For the past couple of months, Ava DiFiore, a junior at Perkiomen Valley High School, has been building an organization all about giving back to the community and inspiring others. This program is called InspiringU, and it is part of a non-profit organization called Pillars of Light and Love, run by certified life coach Kathy Opperman.
“InspiringU was created back in November when I went to Kathy and I told her that I wanted to create a program for teens, run by teens, that gets teens involved in the community,” DiFiore said. During the unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic, teens’ mental health has shown to be declining, so the creation of a program like InspiringU was a way for teenagers to help each other out while getting involved in the community.
“I think that it is crucial for teens to know that they are not alone, and that there are resources out there for them that can help with what they were going through,” DiFiore said.
InspiringU has held community service projects as well as fundraisers to benefit the organization and local small businesses.
“Recently, we sold 140 pizza kits through the amazing Collegeville Italian Bakery, and with donations, raised almost $1000 in order to keep InspiringU running. We have also made around 40 hats for a program called Hats not Hate, via Circle of Love, made around 50 Dog Chew Toys for a local dog shelter, and are currently in the process of trying to get 500 cards for those in senior homes, rehabilitation centers, and veterans,” DiFiore said. InspiringU not only helps the teens that are a part of the program, it also benefits the community, small businesses, dog shelters, people in need, and much more.
“InspiringU has benefited me through experience because volunteering carries life lessons and a new perspective. I’ve learned more about myself and helping others. I’ve also learned more about working with others and problem solving,” Alessia Revelli, a sophomore at Perkiomen Valley High School and a committee member with InspiringU, said.
InspiringU and Pillars of Light and Love as a whole is a very safe environment, where members can relate to each other and come together by helping others out. Pillars of Light and Love has numerous support groups, such as EncouragingU, which talks about everyday issues faced with being a teen, DiscoveringU, which talks about things such as depression, anxiety, and disordered eating, an eating disorder group for adults, a group for family who has lost somebody due to suicide, and much more. InspiringU is the first of its kind where teens get involved in the community to help others out while simultaneously helping themselves out.
“It has just truly been so amazing to be able to foster such connectivity with the community, and others to be able to help to make the world a better place. I genuinely can not wait to see how much bigger our program will be in the future. I want to thank Kathy Opperman for helping me with this program, the InspiringU Committee members, as well as all of the volunteers,” DiFiore said.
Ava DiFiore, while only being a junior in high school, has shown true leadership with the formulation of InspiringU, and has created a safe place for teens to spread kindness and help the community, one project at a time.