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State Honoree

MaryAlice Parks

Washington

MaryAlice Parks, 17, of Tacoma, Wash., a junior at Annie Wright School, planned, implemented and directed a summer theater camp at a local soup kitchen for underprivileged children. This past summer, after learning that she had not been accepted into an elite summer theater institute, MaryAlice decided to bring her passion for the theater to children who might not otherwise get the opportunity. “A theater camp could increase the kids’ self-confidence and creativity, and could be a perfect experience for their enrichment and growth,” explained MaryAlice. She spoke with the soup kitchen’s director, the woman who inspired her volunteer spirit, and received her overwhelming support. MaryAlice then secured a grant from her church, recruited 10 teen volunteers to assist, and registered 14 young children to attend. The children learned skits, songs and teamwork, made costumes and built sets. At the end of the camp, the children performed to the delight of 100 people who visited the soup kitchen that night. “As each kid realized they had responsibility and were important for the good of the whole, they began to trust, value and admire themselves,” said MaryAlice.