Coral Reef High senior Meggie Pires- Fernandes has approximately 1,500 hours in community service. Many of her hours came from volunteering for an organization called The Edge. The organization teaches young children about the importance of saving the environment.
“So when they grow up they can help teach other people how to care for the environment,” she says.
Pires-Fernandez became involved because she went to elementary school with the daughter of The Edge founder Mercy Hernandez. The organization has grown over the years and the curriculum is used in schools in 13 counties. Through The Edge and the Coral Reef National Honor Society, Pires-Fernandes worked on a toy drive. The toys were distributed to children in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Most often, Pires-Fernandes has volunteered at the Old Cutler Learning Academy, which she says was the first eco day care.
“They have a specific program that they work with,” she says. “They have a garden in the back yard and different canisters so they can recycle (at lunch).”
She started in the summer of 2012 and went there every day after school and during the summer.
“Now I don’t have time to go every day, but I go if they have an event,” she says.
Pires-Fernandes did a community service project that was supposed to earn her the Girl Scout Gold Award. A paperwork snafu kept the project from being officially recognized.
“It was called Baby Bottoms; I collected diapers for low income families with infants in Homestead,” she says. “The woman was the director of a group called Project SOS.”
That organization works with victims of domestic violence or homeless women who need help.
She collected more than 500 packages of diapers over three months. In all, the project took six months from planning to completion.
At school, Pires-Fernandes is the secretary of Best Buddies and she has a buddy that she works with who is non-verbal.
“We can’t communicate through words so we have to find other ways to communicate,” she says. “It’s amazing how some people have angry eyes to the world and my buddy is so happy.”
She became involved in Best Buddies through her friend Alexis Magill.
“In sophomore year, we had a class together; she was already super involved,” Pires-Fernandes says. “I just had to be a part of that club because it was so amazing. I applied and I was matched with a buddy. It changed my life and then I got a position as an officer.”
Pires Fernandes also is the secretary of the Scrub Squad, which is the local board for Health Occupation Students of America (HOSA).
“We represent our school when we go to competitions,” she says.
The competitions have revolved around community emergency response teams.
“Last year at state competition, my partner and I got second place and we went to the national competitions and we ranked in fifth place,” she says. “Basically, the whole premise is if there is a natural disaster, it’s the team of people that would go out and help mitigate the situation, try and prevent things from things getting worse before EMT’s arrive — do triage and health assessments.”
The teams are given scenarios that they must act on.
Pires-Fernandes didn’t sign up for the competition this year because she didn’t want to leave her partner in a lurch if she started college in the summer. She is going to the University of Florida and majoring in biomedical engineering.
“I think I want to go on to medical school,” she says.
By Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld