Reflective, sensitive, compassionate and caring deeply about the world around her—and thus acts without haste when given the opportunity to help others is how Corie McDermott, Assistant Director of College Counseling describes the eleventh Metta Student winner Abby Byrne of Newport. A Metta Students Foundation ceremony was held Mon, Janury13. at the Portsmouth Abbey School
Norm Kelly, founder of Software Quality Associates in Providence, created the Metta Students Foundation in October of 2012 after learning of one teen’s kind act towards another teen. Each month, during the school year, the foundation awards one thousand dollars to a student who shares metta.
“Metta means love and kindness," states Norm Kelly, “and we are proud to be able to give recognition to all of those bright lights who give back, not because they have to, but because they are truly good hearted and want to make a positive difference.”
“Abby crafted a grant proposal and presented it to a committee in order to secure Haney Fellowship funding for a solo trip to ‘Barrio Solidaridad’ in Salta, Argentina to do volunteer work," says McDermott,”Communicating only in Spanish (thus, putting her academic language skills to work) Abby helped nuns tend to the poor and needy.
She read Spanish children's books to the kindergarten classes in the public school. She lead craft activities, taught dance lessons (Abby is a skilled ballerina), assisted in music class, and donated about 200 books to the local library, where she would meet with a group of kids twice a week. She also did extensive work in a special education school. Abby reflects that “the reason the FCJ sisters are living in this neighborhood in Salta is centered upon giving support and strengthening the community. They give hope to some of the poorest people in Argentina, and I got to be a part of that.”
Abby also applied for and was accepted to be a volunteer to help the sick and dying in Lourdes. Abby writes the following of her experience: “This was a ten day trip where volunteers assist the disabled on their pilgrimage to the grotto to pray for healing. The volunteers mostly had small jobs: setting tables, making beds, wheeling people from room to room, offering someone a cup of coffee, or accompanying them for a service. I had been selected to be a “buddy” for a man named Adam who was unable to feed himself. I sat down with him for each meal and fed him before I ate. It was the most intense, emotional and exhausting week of my life, and really one of the best experiences I've ever had.”
Finally, Abby went to Virginia last March with Appalachia Service Project. There, she spent a week doing hard manual labor: she roofed and sided a house.”
“Winning this grant has made me feel inspired and eager to do more,” states Byrne, “I have been so thankful to be given the opportunities that I've had, and a grant like this shows that there will be more for me in the future. It has shown me how much people care, and how much love there is out there. And for that I am so grateful.There have been times where I have felt like I could not help others, because I did not have anything special to offer. But I've realized that the most I can do is share my whole self. Through my recent community service trips, I've realized the importance of listening, and the effect of a smile, a hug or the sharing of a story. To other students, I would say this: it’s easy. It’s easy and there’s nothing more rewarding.”
It is for all of these reasons the Metta Student foundation tells this Examiner they are proud to award Abby one thousand dollars.