“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” ~ Margaret Mead
This quote had inspired Sheliza “because it shows that no matter what age, what race, what size and what person you may be, anyone has the capability to make a difference.”
With a volunteering history longer and richer than most of us can boast of in a lifetime, it is a revelation that Sheliza Kassam is only 15 years old.
She was first introduced to the wonderful world of volunteering when she was five as a “junior volunteer” at her mosque.
“From the moment I started volunteering, I knew it was my passion,” Sheliza says. “I always wanted to give back to my community, my city and world for everything they offered me.”
With role models like Craig Kielburger and Mother Teresa, one of Sheliza’s primary goals in life is to make a difference in the world.
On her 13th birthday, she wanted to witness the impact that she was making on the community firsthand.
“I was becoming a teenager and I felt as if I should go beyond my level,” she says. And so, Sheliza chose to celebrate this momentous occasion in the company of homeless families.
“I choseInnfrom the Cold because I got to see less fortunate families and realized that even people my age go through days starving,” she says. Armed with her birthday fund, she brought people together to cook and serve food to 80 people, including children.
It would be impossible to paint the impact and breadth of Sheliza’s contributions to the Calgary community in its entirety, but this snapshot of her current volunteer career is quite impressive.
Sheliza’s current lineup of volunteer activities:
- Junior volunteer at her mosque since 2002.
- Raised over 850 used eyeglasses for third world countries for the Lions Club Sight Night projects.
- President of Girl Guides Pathfinders group
- Logged 63 volunteer hours with City ofCalgary’s Park N Play Day Camp, takingcare of kids under 12.
- Speech and math tutor at Westmont Charter School
- Mayor’s Youth Council with Youth Central
- Co-chair of ConocoPhillips Youth of Distinction Awards Committee
- Blogs for www.youthareawesome.com
- Junior Achievement Ambassador
- CalgaryPublic Library Advisory Council
- Alberta Health Services Child and Youth Advisory Council
All this and more, while still navigating through high school.
By being a shining example of volunteerism, Sheliza hopes to inspire others to do the same.
“I tell my friends to volunteer because it makes a difference in society and there is so much that needs to be done and so little time,” she says. “We are the next generation and that’s why we need each individual to make a difference in society — to make sure the world can be a better place. And it can be done, we just need passionate individuals to get it done.”
Sheliza Kassam is this year’s recipient of the Leaders of Tomorrow Award – Senior High division, one of the award categories of the 16th Annual Leadership Awards.