Recently Palmer Trinity graduate Sophia Sardinas spent much of her time in high school working on making hospitalized children happy. She was the head of the Create Happiness Club, a club that created coloring books for children stuck in the hospital.
Palmer Alum Jenna Fusfield designed the books and Sardinas took them to the printer. Then Sardinas and a couple of other students went to Miami Children’s Hospital to donate the books and colored pencils. They’d also take the time to color with the children.
“They are doodles,” she says. “Doodles that Jenna does so they are not for specific ages. They are therapeutic for the kids.”
When they went, they took about 150 coloring books at a time to distribute. They paid the $1,500 printing costs through bake sales at school and events at Palmer such a Shed Your Threads. The printing company also helped by giving them a price reduction on the cost of printing.
“We’ve also gone to Ronald McDonald house – the one next to Baptist Hospital,” she says.
The Create Happiness Club was started when Fusfield was a senior and Sardinas was a sophomore. It will continue on because her sister Victoria Sardinas will take it over now that Sophia has graduated.
Along with creating happiness for hospitalized children, Sardinas helped children gain knowledge by working with Breakthrough Miami. Twice a month for three hours at a time she’d go to Palmer to teach French to underprivileged students.
“We have a lot of fun learning and because most come from Spanish backgrounds, it comes easier for them,” she says.
Her volunteer work outside of Palmer includes a stint as the District 12 representative on the Youth Commission of Miami-Dade.
“Commissioner (Pepe) Diaz appointed me,” she says. “We meet monthly to plan events for the community.
This past year the youth commission took part in an Obesity Fair. Just before the school year started, they had a Back to School event where they handed out backpacks filled with supplies and pencils to 500 students.
While at Palmer, Sardinas played softball and participated in the shot put in track and field her freshman and sophomore years. She joined the softball team for her senior year because so many of her friends were playing.
Over the years, Sardinas has taken three humanitarian service trips. One was sponsored by Palmer and the other two were done through church groups. The Palmer trip went to Nicaragua where the students built a house.
“The students will help mix the cement and lay the bricks by hand,” she says.
The other trips were to the Dominican Republic and Honduras. The Honduras trip was sponsored by an Alabama Baptist Church.
“I was invited to go by a doctor friend,” she says. “I went to translate for the Alabama doctors who didn’t know Spanish.”
The trip to the Dominican Republic was with a group of doctors from Miami.
“I went originally thinking I was going to be a translator as well, but I ended in operating room,” she says. “I was helping the doctors with what they needed.”
She assisted with minor surgeries such as wart removals, although she did observe other surgeries, including amputations.
She was able to go on that trip because of her strong interest in becoming a doctor. Her goal is to study dermatology.
“I suffered with acne throughout high school,” she says. “It took an emotional toll on us (she and her sister) because we were insecure about it. We finally found a dermatologist that helped us.”
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld