Student wants to raise awareness about homelessness

Maggie Wolfe thought “philanthropy was distant, raising money and then done.” She now knows differently.

As part of this past fall’s Scholars in Service program sponsored by the Covenant House, the 17 year-old junior at Hillgrove High in Powder Springs learned much more.

“Maggie was dynamic out of the gate – incredible, so driven and great,” said her mentor for the program, Elizabeth Burdette.

The bar is set high and Wolfe has learned to make the most of her time by being proactive while carrying a full load of AP classes, a member of Beta and the National Honor Society (4.55 GPA). She grabs every spare minute to work on school commitments, including lunch and in route (while her mom drives her to Fayetteville and back) to ride her horses four or five times a week.

In her free time, she rides and competes at a national level. “At five years of age, I went to a birthday party and fell in love like most little girls, wanting a pony. … I never grew out of that.

“Growing up, my parents donated money and we did some volunteering time to time. My parents emphasized that we didn’t have an inherited, inherent right to be successful just because we were lucky and went to good schools and had a nice home,” she said.

It was through a book she read last year in her language class titled “Scratch Beginnings” that opened her eyes to homelessness. The counseling department sent out information/applications this past fall for the hands-on Scholars in Service program.

“I knew that Covenant House existed, but didn’t know exactly what their mission was,” Wolfe said.

She learned that their target is the homelessness – ages 18-24. “They provide support needed to leave the streets and achieve independence,” said Wolfe.

Statistics from their website show that there are 3,300 homeless youth on any given night. Forty percent identify as LGBT and 72 percent have been victims or or witnessed violence.

“During this program, the one thing sticks out in my mind was that I met so many abusedand amazing kids. So arbitrary. All of these kids were so nice, eloquent and articulate. I was lucky. I was born into a great situation. …

It wasn’t their fault they’re homeless. It’s rarely due to laziness,” she said.

After high school and college she wants to attend. law school. Her ultimate dream is to attend Georgetown and work in the human rights field. Interested in history and her father, an attorney, the path seemed natural to her.

“I’ve learned homelessness is right near your home. … The number is epidemic. It’s shocking. They’re my age. They could be my friends. Homelessness is filtered to us … People live in a bubble,” said Wolfe.

She has raised about $14,500. While the deadline for the scholarship has ended, money can still be donated until February 15.

“This program includes a joint scholarship - one to the student who raised the highest funds and the other to the Covenant House youth who the students voted on. We read essays from the youth who applied for this scholarship, and it made me think about education inequality and the way a great education gives people a leg up,” said Wolfe.

“I’ve learned that philanthropy is a lot more personal. It’s about making connections and raising awareness.”

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