With the presidential elections coming up in November, Miami Palmetto High School incoming senior Nathalie van der Reis has been writing postcards to remind people to request mail-in ballots.
Throughout her high school experience, van der Reis has volunteered for Achieve Miami, on Saturdays, to help children improve their literacy. She recruited friends who would drive to the Saturday sessions together.
“The buddies value the one-on-one attention they receive,” she says. “I can’t imagine what they are going through right now with COVID-19.”
When everyone had to stay home during COVID-19, she began writing postcards to voters.
“I think the right to vote is one of the most important rights an individual has,” she says.
She contacted the organization Blue Wave, after her family received a postcard. The organization gave her a script and the postcards.
“All I had to do was write the script, address it, put a stamp on it and mail it out,” she says.
The first batch took a month or two and she planned to ask for more.
“The Blue Wave focuses on informing individuals who are registered voters to vote by mail in this election,” she says. “The postcard reminds the voter of the option to vote by mail. A website is provided on the postcard.”
She believes this is a very important initiative because every vote counts.
Van der Reis is interested in another voting initiative which her cousin launched at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan in 2018. Her cousin made it a hospital initiative to provide patients who were unexpectedly hospitalized in the days prior to the November midterms the opportunity to vote from the bedside.
In most states across the country including Florida, there is no process in place for obtaining an absentee ballot due to an unexpected circumstance such as a hospitalization.
Van der Reis was hoping that hospitals in South Florida would implement a similar program where she could volunteer as a runner to and from the Board of Elections.
Van der Reis believes this is an important matter due to the current conditions of COVID-19 and the number of voters that may be hospitalized in November.
When things return to normal, van der Reis plans to return to the tennis circuit. She competes in state and national tournaments throughout the year, although summertime brings more national and international tournaments.
She usually travels to Europe to play because her dad is from Amsterdam. One summer she represented The Netherlands at the Maccabi Games in Israel.
At home, she’s captain of the Palmetto tennis team. Her freshman year, the team won the state championship. She believes the 2020 team was on track to win states again, but the season was cut short.
Her freshman year, she won the Rookie of the Year Award from the tennis team and her sophomore and junior year she was the Most Valuable Player.
Playing high school tennis made her realize that she wants to be part of a team so she’s open to being recruited for a college team. Because of the COVID-19 pause, recruiting trips were already postponed. She wants to play for a Division III university.
She is looking at a business or liberal arts major wherever she goes.
At Palmetto, van der Reis was the treasurer of the English Honor Society her junior year, a member of the National Honor Society and the School Safety Chair for Student Council.
Non-athletic awards include the Wellesley Book Award, the PTSA Outstanding Service Award and Panther on the Move.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld