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State Honoree

April Mathews

Virginia

April Mathews, 14, of Potomac Senior High School in Dumfries, Virginia, sought to provide homeless children with much-needed support from formerly homeless children, like herself, through a support group called AfterShare Kids. With the help of a friend whom she met during her stay at the Prince William County Homeless Prevention Center, April founded AfterShare Kids, a program that encourages kids to come back to the center to share advice with its young residents. "We thought that the kids and teens who move out of the center could help the young people in their same age group by sharing a common experience, said April. AfterShare Kids debuted in October 1995 with just four members. Today, over 50 members participate in the program, which due to April's involvement in a public awareness campaign on homelessness, has received community support and funding. April and other members of AfterShare Kids have received monetary awards for their volunteer efforts, which April has donated back to the program to help purchase computers. With these computers, AfterShare Kids are writing about their homeless experiences and compiling the stories into a book to help educate the public on the plight of the homeless. "I've learned that you can use something you think is a bad experience to help others in the same situation," said April.