Incoming Palmer Trinity junior Vanessa Morales is the founder and president of the club, Hope for Tomorrow. The club donates money to St. Jude’s Hospital and toys to Jack Nicholas Children’s Hospital.
She came up the idea for the club in the summer going into ninth grade. Her motivation is to help people who are suffering from cancer.
“One of my best friends had cancer when she was three years old,” Morales says. “She had a tumor.
She’s fine. She’s been healthy for many years now.”
In a short period of time, the club grew from an idea to an organization with approximately 50 members.
Club members worked to help sick children who were spending the holidays in the hospital.
“The toys were distributed there,” she says. “Sometimes the left over toys are distributed over the year when they have a hard time.”
The students also visit children at Baptist Children’s Hospital. Last school year they did a Valentine’s Day card activity.
“We brought cute little hearts,” she says. “We let them hang out and play and helped them decorate.”
Money for the activities is raised through bake sales and Shed Your Threads days where students pay so they don’t have to wear school uniforms for a day.
“We usually get around $400-$500 dollars,” she says. “I also have a Go Fund Me page.”
Morales believes it is important that cancer be cured.
“I know every contribution matters,” she says. “I hope these contributions make a difference.”
She’s also a member of JRDS, which raises money for research into Type One diabetes. Club members participate in walks at Zoo Miami.
“Our goal is to raise $5,000,” she says. “We are on our way there. The money is donated to research.”
Her community involvement includes Bake-A-Wish. Every three months, club members go to schools in low income communities to bring cupcakes and sing happy birthday to children who might not otherwise celebrate birthdays with cake and songs. Children whose birthdays are in the three-month period get cake and the other kids are given homemade cookies.
“We get together and go the president’s house a day before or a couple of days before and bake all the cupcakes and the cookies,” she says.
“It’s really fun. When we go we sing happy birthday to the kids they light up and we have a really good time.”
Children also benefit from Morales’ participation in Breakthrough Miami. During the school year, she goes one Saturday and month to teach children from underperforming schools.
“We do history, math, we’re basically the teachers and we teach them,” she says. “We play games and we have fun. It’s a really good program. I like it.”
Last summer she taught the kids how to play volleyball in the PE class and she continued to teach PE during the school year. Teaching volleyball was natural for her since she’s been playing since sixth grade. Last year she was on the junior varsity team. This year she expects to move up to varsity.
Outside of school, she helps out at a pediatrician’s office and a gastroenterologist’s office.
“I want to go to medical school,” she says. “I want to be a surgeon. I’m really learning a lot from this.”
Both of her parents are doctors and so her interest in medicine is a natural.
“I love helping people,” she says. “Helping them medically… it makes me happy to think about it.”
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld