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State Honoree

Cathleen Powell

West Virginia

Cathleen Powell, 17, of Glenville, W.Va., a senior at Gilmer County High School, raised more than $8,000 to benefit victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks through a statewide service “challenge” program among West Virginia high schools. “The feeling I got watching the September 11 tragedies on television is what initially inspired me to start the project,” Cathleen said. “I wanted my school to do something to help instead of just watch everyone suffering.” After obtaining the permission of school and government officials, Cathleen wrote letters challenging every high school in her state to raise money, and ended up collecting more than $8,000 for 9/11-related charities. Inspired by this experience, Cathleen and her fellow volunteers formed a school service club to work on a variety of volunteer projects. “Service Connection” volunteers have provided Christmas presents for needy children, helped a family whose belongings were lost in a house fire, mentored special education students, and initiated a pen-pal program with orphaned children in East Timor. “I hope that teenagers have been inspired to dedicate their lives to helping the people around them,” she said. “It’s essential for teenagers to give back to the world and volunteer.”