On Friday, Oct. 4, Poly Prep's Maria Hatzipetros was honored by the Guild for Exceptional Children as the first Junior Benefactor in the history of the organization at their annual Autumn Gala at the El Caribe in Brooklyn.
This event, hosted by Channel 7 news anchor Ken Rosato, was an evening of dinner, dancing and prizes all in order to raise money for the GEC. The GEC was established in 1958 and is a Brooklyn non-profit providing residential opportunities and clinical, therapeutic, educational, social, recreational and support services to people with developmental disabilities. Through day programs, homecare and a preschool located in downtown Brooklyn, this organization provides assistance to a wide range of people with different needs.
Aside from her hands-on involvement as a Poly volunteer, Maria has also benefited the GEC through her Girl Scout Gold Award. A Girl Scout since she was five years old, Hatzipetros has been on many service trips and has participated in many events to help spread awareness about the needs of the developmentally disabled community. During her time as a Girl Scout, Hatzipetros also completed her Bronze, Silver and Gold awards, the three highest a Girl Scout can achieve. For her Gold Award, Maria collected art supplies from her community to donate to the GEC’s preschool. Due to recent government budget cuts, the GEC has lost a significant amount of money that would otherwise be used to purchase these kinds of supplies.
A young woman who values and exercises her own creativity at Poly, Hatzipetros believes it is important for young children to express themselves through the visual arts. Hatzipetros is honored to be part of the GEC family and when asked about what community service means to her she replied, “Service is something that comes from within, it should not be an obligation but rather a gesture of kindness that makes you feel good about yourself.”
Hatzipetros is also thankful for Poly Prep’s Upper School community service initiative and encourages all students to make the most out of their community service requirement. Despite Poly’s demanding curriculum, community service should be a part of everyone’s lives not only during their time at Poly, but also in the future.
“I really want students to take the time out of their busy schedules and try to do something nice for others and for their community. It is the most rewarding feeling. In college, I hope to continue my service and give back to others. Service has become part of me, part of who I am as a person.”