Palmer Trinity junior Isabella Martino loves dogs. She started as a member of the Second Chance Club while in sixth grade and became president in ninth grade. She plans to continue as president until she graduates.
The Second Chance club has fundraisers to benefit animal organizations such as Paws4You, Born Free and one that works with horses.
“They are non-kill, non-profit organizations,” she says.
This year, Second Chance took on a new fundraiser, a dog wash.
“People brought their dogs and all the money went to Paws4You,” she says. “We had a really good turnout. We mailed out different flyers to the neighbors.”
Club members also go to the shelters to help.
“We go and we bathe them, we feed them, we bring out donations,” Martino says.
They encourage adoptions by hosting booth at the International Festival.
“Paws4You brings puppies and dogs and we’ve gotten some of them adopted,” she says. “We’ve done it three years in a row.”
Their fundraisers include everyone’s favorite, bake sales. They make approximately $300-$500 at each sale.
Outside of school, Martino is on the executive board of Students Offering Support (SOS). This year she’s secretary. Last year she was the co-chair of the Bowling Against Bullying event. Proceeds from the bowling night go to the Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment.
“It was the first year doing it at Splitsville,” she says.
SOS also hosts a holiday party at the Chapman Partnership for the Homeless Shelter.
In February, Martino went on a mission trip to Haiti with the Haiti Partnership Club. They went to Lamacette, where they have built a shelter and school for the children and to Hinche, a town about 45 minutes away.
“This time, we didn’t build but played with the kids,” she says. “We spent time with them. We brought balloons. We brought a lot of clothes.”
Because the children there have so little, they were fascinated with the things the teens brought them.
“They could spend three hours playing with the balloon,” she says. “I got little bracelets and little necklaces and passed them out. Just the simple things would make them simple. It was like the best time in my life.”
While in Hinche, the students camped out.
“There’s no shelter,” she says. “They have a three-walled hut with a grass roof for their church. They have a little room with cement walls. It has a tin roof. Those are the only 2 structures.”
The people would get up early – with the sunrise – and go to sleep early. They’d also go to church for hours.
“That’s all they do. They sing and they are all together,” she says. “The kids would walk like an hour to be with us.”
While this was Martino’s first mission trip, she did go on a teen program while in ninth grade that included two days of volunteer work in Costa Rica. She plans to go on another Haiti mission trip next year.
Although she still has time, Martino is starting her college search. This past summer she attended a running camp at the University of Florida. Currently, UF tops her college list.
She attended the running camp because she’s captain of the cross-country team and she is a member of the track team. Last year she ran the mile and two-mile events for the track team. This year she switched to sprints and competes in the 200, 400 and 800.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld