Although she admits her involvement for the most part has been promoting music appreciation in her community, Nicole Gerhardt says she has also made a difference through her involvement in CISV Philadelphia, a local branch of an international nonprofit organization that promotes peace education by building global friendship.
Nicole is a senior at Abington Senior High School and a lifelong resident of Abington Township. She has always looked for ways to give back to her community, mainly by encouraging appreciation of the arts and by facilitating peace education at the local level. She has volunteered as a camp counselor and teacher at the Abington Art Center, where she worked more than 130 hours over the course of a summer. She instructed students from age 4-12 about different art styles and helped co-teach a wheel-throwing pottery class. Seeing the smiles on students’ faces gave her a sense of appreciation and accomplishment.
As a member of the Abington’s Select Choir, she joined with other members to visit nursing homes and hospitals, serenading residents and caroling with guests. She recalls older women and men she encountered on outings in the community coming up to her and relating how they remembered singing the same songs with their church choir years ago or that they had been music teachers. These experiences made Nicole realize just how much music is can bring people together, regardless of the circumstance.
During her last two years at Abington, Nicole has been the Activity Coordinator of the CISV branch. This entailed planning and organizing activities that revolved around the organization’s four pillars: Diversity, Sustainable Development, Conflict Resolution, and Human Rights. As examples, she coordinated and performed charity work with the Philadelphia Mitzvah Circle where she sorted through clothing donations for those in crisis and wtih the Breathing Room where she baked cookies for families affected by illness.
An adult member of CISV stated that Nicole’s commitment to the organization shows that she not only understands the importance of giving back, but also how valuable and gratifying volunteering can be. Nicole herself says volunteering has been an immensely humbling experience, and she will continue to give bake to her community in the future.
What a remarkable testimony for a young person, which only goes to show that youth is not just our hope and survival for tomorrow but very much the hope for today.