Ed. Note: Champions of Change is a weekly initiative to highlight Americans who are making an impact in their communities and helping our country rise to meet the many challenges of the 21st century.
“How great it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank.
After working hard to improve my corner of the world, I have been able to share it with others. This week's Champions of Change call was a wonderful opportunity to talk with other youth who are making a difference one school at a time.
For my 15th birthday, I wanted to do something more than a “wasteful” party, and I wanted to do something. I knew after getting involved with energy conservation and green building I wanted to do something now and not debate the might or could be. I worked with the local arborist to plant 30 trees with a bunch of friends for a “Party with a Purpose,” and it turned out successful. Food, trees and fun. My family and friends wanted to do some more. The second Party with a Purpose was in March of 2009, these 100 saplings were the start of Discover Green. We continued planting trees, I started writing grants, and the next thing I knew my organization had been involved in 101 events, presented to 6,095 youth, planted or distributed 6,701 trees, collected over 50 tons of trash, marked 2,500 storm drains – worked with 1,100 teens and made sure that almost 2,100 pieces of pizza were eaten. This doesn’t include all the other great partnerships and projects invasive species, watershed education, native wildlife habitats and more.
With more than 2,000 community service hours in the last five years, people ask me why I do this. My answer – “Why not!” As FDR said, “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.”
I believe that teens can make a difference and that I can help build them one tree at a time and one slice of pizza at a time. Isn’t it great that no one need wait?
Matthew Evans is an 18-year old who had the vision to create a non-profit called Discover Green, which is based in Pflugerville, Texas, raises awareness around energy and water conservation, and constructs sustainable landscape models throughout the community.