Mount Vernon senior recognized for volunteer work

A new Fairfax County Public Schools video highlights the extensive volunteer work of a Mount Vernon High School senior working to better her own community.

Racheal Appiah was named the Fairfax County Youth Volunteer of the Year in earlier this year by Volunteer Fairfax. She spent the summer of 2017 as the lead volunteer for youth programming at the Stony Brook Apartments on Buckman Road, according to Volunteer Fairfax. She helped plan, organize and run a three-week summer camp for more than 60 Stony Brook kids, and also took part in a six-week learning loss prevention program. Additionally Appiah served served as the lead organizer for the Stony Brook Community Day, which was attended by more than 150 residents.

This past summer Appiah led the tutoring program, which pairs teenage volunteers with elementary school kids for one-on-one assistance in math and language arts. Appiah set up the pre- and post-assessments for the children taking part, measuring just how far they progressed during the program.

Ryan Barton, the former manager of Community Impact Strategies at Stony Brook, praised Appiah’s efforts and she inspired other teens in the Stony Brook community to volunteer their own time for the program.

“What Racheal did is, she got the teens in the community to buy into being a tutor,” Barton said. “These are kids who are 13, 14, 15 years old and they’re spending almost 15 hours a week of their summer tutoring youth.”

Appiah is also part of the Stony Brook Junior Volunteers, which was named the Fairfax County Youth Volunteer Group of the Year in May. The Stony Brook Junior Volunteers have been especially active in environmentalism, cleaning up Little Hunting Creek in Hybla Valley and establishing a community garden that has produced more than 53 pounds of produce for low-income residents of the community, according to Volunteer Fairfax. The group has logged almost 10,000 volunteer hours since being formed since 2012.

In the FCPS video, Appiah says she hopes to one day become a nurse.

“I just love to see people smile,”  Appiah said. “It’s so amazing. … I want to help people out.”

Having an upbeat attitude comes naturally for Appiah, according to one of her teachers.

“Racheal is a delight to have in the classroom,” said Alicia Freitag St. Jean, a history teacher at Mount Vernon. “Racheal always has a smile on her face and spreads joy wherever she goes.”