Young Syracuse student receives top award for community service

Local News

A young student from the Syracuse City School District is receiving a prestigious award for dedicating her life to community service.  

This month, Samaia Goodrich will be the first student from the City of Syracuse to get the Prudential Spirit of Community Award in its 24-year history.  The award is part of the nation’s largest youth volunteer awards program honoring students in grades 5-12 for outstanding volunteer service. 

Samaia has done many community service iniatives over the years, but one of her most recent projects includes helping those affected by Hurricane Maria after it hit Puerto Rico.

A rare and selfless act of kindess created a special bond between Samaia, her mother Akua and Karla Cedeno and her son Janiel.  It all started almost two years ago, when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.

“I was sitting downstairs with my mom and we were watching TV about what happened in Puerto Rico and how they lost everything and I was wondering, if I was in that position how would I feel,” remembered Samaia.

She knew she had to do something to help when she found out students from Puerto Rico were coming to the Syracuse City School District.  She created a project called “Presents for Peers.”  With the help of her classmates, she raised nearly $5000 to give gifts to families who moved from Puerto Rico to Syracuse, includig Karla and Janiel.  

Thanks to Samaia’s kindness, along with her classmates, Syracuse is starting to feel like home for the Cedeno family.

“Its been a blessing, its been a blessing knowing her (Samaia) and her mom, everybody here, I cannot even explain it,” said Karla Cedeno.

Samaia’s work continues to gain local and national attention with honors from various organizations and her school district.

“You never know what someone is going through or what your help can do to make a difference in their life,” said Samaia.  “I am excited and feel honored (to win the awards) but its not about me, its about the young people who want to serve or never got the chance to serve due to their life being cut short.”

Samaia will be awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award on March 29th.

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