Cara Monteleone, Livonia High School

We sometimes forget how fortunate we are. We eat three square meals a day, can go to school, have clothes, a house, family, and friends. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, they don’t even know where they’re going to get their next meal.

The Yuda Bands Project aims to remedy poverty through education. We find active, service-oriented, and passionate kids in developing countries and finance their schooling. Over the years, we have helped over a thousand students. Most of them are now helping their communities.

The Yuda Bands Project wouldn’t have affected that many lives without help. Many organizations supported the Yuda Bands Project, but the main reason for its success is our volunteers.

Our volunteers are energetic, passionate, and goal-driven youth. They understand how lucky they are. And now they want to extend help through whatever means they can.

Age doesn’t matter when it comes to service: whether you’re a 16-year-old student or a 50-year old millionaire from the Philippines. What’s important is the heart for service, sympathy for others and the willingness to act.

These qualities perfectly sum up Cara Monteleone, a 9th-grade student at Livonia High School.

 

LEADERS AREN’T BORN, THEY ARE FORMED

Cara is a freshman at Livonia High School. But that didn’t stop her from being active. She got involved in various school clubs and activities.

“Name a club at school, and I’m probably in it. This includes yearbook, student council, Interact, band, jazz band, chorus, etc. I am also a varsity ski racer and a junior varsity lacrosse player.”

Cara is goal-oriented, driven, and sets high expectations for herself. Many of her classmates noticed this. That’s why they elected her as freshman class president.

Thanks to her new position, she met new people, leadership opportunities opened, and she learned about the Yuda Bands Project.

“I heard about the Yuda Band Project from my freshman leadership teacher who saw a Yuda Band booth at the National Leadership Conference.”

“WHAT REALLY CAUGHT MY ATTENTION WAS THE PERSONAL ASPECT….”

Cara loved how simple, yet personal, the Yuda Band Project’s goal was. The goal was to choose a student and sell enough Yuda Bands to keep that student in school.

The Skype call with the student also interested her. She knew *exactly* who she was helping. No hidden names. No anonymous name or pen names. Cara knew getting involved would change that student’s life forever.

After a few meetings, Cara decided to join the Yuda Bands Project and chose to sponsor Progress Manzanga, a 14-year old girl from Zimbabwe.

 

A GOAL WITHOUT A PLAN IS JUST A DREAM

Cara loves to lead, but what she loves more is helping people achieve their goals. She thrives in leading others to succeed. These qualities were apparent as she managed the Yuda Bands Project with other first-year students.

Cara spearheaded the planning. They had planned two to three weeks before the Yuda Bands arrived. The Livonia High School students started by arranging small committees. Each committee formulated how to advertise the bands. They also discussed the who’s what’s, where’s, and why’s of the project.

 

LOVE, DEDICATION IS WHAT YOU NEED TO SUCCEED

Cara and the other freshmen sold the bands from November 30th to December 14th. During the selling period, Cara always emphasized what the Yuda Bands Project is about, who they are helping and why it is important.

“The Yuda Bands Project is so great because you get to know where all of your efforts is going and who’s life you are changing, so why not share that with everyone else at school?”

Thanks to that initiative, many students joined in on the movement. They advertised on their half. Word of mouth spread, and it got people’s attention and interest.

In two weeks, they sold 600 Yuda Bands for Progress Manzanga’s education.

The real reason the Yuda Bands Project succeeded because everyone was “all in.” Everyone committed to the cause.

“These freshmen were so eager and willing to succeed, and that initial drive really set a tone for the rest of the sale,” Cara said

“….right at the start every freshman really loved the idea of this project and to begin with that attitude made this entire project that much better,” she added.

 

AGE DOESN’T DETERMINE SKILL OR ABILITY

Phillip Whiting, Cara’s project manager, was impressed with Cara Monteleone.

“I was blown away to realize that Cara is only in 9th grade. She is very mature and on the ball. Most project leaders are in 11th or 12th grade.”

The leadership Cara showed was admirable. She showed everyone age isn’t a hindrance if you want to help. Phillip hopes more 9th-graders will follow Cara’s lead. He hopes they will find a cause bigger than themselves and pour everything they have, like what Cara did.

 

“GIVING SOMEONE THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES AND LIFE CHANGING MOMENTS…”

The Yuda Bands Project showed Cara it’s possible to come together and achieve a common goal. More importantly, through the project, she realized how fortunate she is and continually reminds herself to not take things for granted.

“From joining this project I’ve realized just how fortunate I am to have such amazing opportunities that I take for granted every day without any thought at all,” Cara said.

Cara now values education more than ever. She believes education is a gateway to prosperity and wants everyone to have the same chance as she does.

“…because of how fortunate I am and everyone at my school is we can give someone else those same opportunities and life-changing moments,” she added.

Cara’s teacher, Ms. Terry D’Imperio, was also very involved in the project. Cara and Ms. Terry told Phillip they had a great time.

After a Skype call with Progress, Ms. Terry D’Imperio sent Phillip an email:

“Hi Phillip,
I just wanted to say THANK YOU for the opportunity to Skype with our student, Progress today. This whole experience has been amazing, and my students got so much out of it. This is my 29th year of teaching, and I can say there are a handful of days that I will always remember. Today was one of those.”

Not everyone can say they changed someone’s life for the better, but Cara can. She didn’t need money to do it either. Cara simply had the heart for service, great initiative, empathy and the boldness to start.

You can do the same. Sponsor a student today. Join the Yuda Bands Project and help underprivileged students like Progress get an education and achieve their dreams.

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