"I learned that you must look people straight in the eye, give a firm handshake, and tell them how important your thoughts are, even if you are a child."
Mary-Pat Wright, 10, of Jonesboro, Georgia, donated money raised from a play she wrote to an organization that helps troubled youth.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Mary-Pat: I wrote a play, "Easy Street Ain't Easy". I am a 10-year-old actress, playwright, and filmmaker. I want to donate some of the money I raise to the Covenant House in Atlanta.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Mary-Pat: The Covenant House in Atlanta, Georgia, a national nonprofit organization that works with troubled youth.
What inspired you to get involved?
Mary-Pat: I live in a middle-class neighborhood where all of my friends at first glance seem spoiled. Well, one of my Best Friends Forever came to me while spending the night and shared something with me and made me pinky-swear not to tell. She was being touched by her mom’s boyfriend, and her mom did not believe her. Do you know what my friend was doing? She was cutting herself, and she was too afraid to tell.
I went to the Internet to find places for her to go, and I came across The Covenant House. I told my mom that if this could happen to someone we knew and loved, then there are kids in every neighborhood in the world that need someone to speak up and out. I am going to do just that. I am not going to wait until I am older. I can do my part now.
How did you first get involved? Through school? Your parents?
Mary-Pat: I told my mom that I wanted to raise money for The Covenant House, and she called them. She contacted a fundraiser, Yolanda Reynolds, who puts together the Who’s Who In Black Atlanta. I also contacted a local filmmaker, Bobby Peoples, and casting director Kenny Leon, and they have all agreed to help me in my fight.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Mary-Pat: Getting kids together to do something great, to teach other kids that they have a voice, and they do not have to be afraid to tell when someone hurts them.
What is/was the hardest part?
Mary-Pat: Getting adults to take you seriously. At first, when I had my auditions, when adults found out that a kid wrote this play, they did not want to stay until they heard me speak.
What was the biggest surprise?
Mary-Pat: That a local filmmaker stepped in and helped me to make it into a movie.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Mary-Pat: I learned that you must look people straight in the eye, give a firm handshake, and tell them how important your thoughts are, even if you are a child.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Mary-Pat: It makes you feel warm inside, and you can stick your chest out. Every time you read a newspaper or listen to the news, all you hear about is African-American kids doing wrong, dressing wrong, listening to the wrong music and other stuff. Well, I hope they hear about this message.
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