Sunday, Apr 14th

SHS Student Wins St. Vincent's Youth Award

Rishi2Rishi ShadaksharappaIf anyone needs a reminder that the Scarsdale School District is full of wonderfully caring, considerate, creative, and hard working students they need to look no further than Rishi Shadaksharappa.

Rishi, a junior at Scarsdale High School, was recently celebrated for his dedication to community service when he was honored, along with twenty two other Westchester students, with the St. Vincent Hospital Youth Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service.

According to their website, “Each year, the Auxiliary presents awards to high school students whose volunteer service exemplifies St. Vincent's core values of respect, integrity, compassion and excellence…and whose service best exemplifies the mission of St. Vincent's – respect and compassion for ourselves and others, excellence in service, the dignity of human life and commitment to the community.”

In addition to the Youth Award, during the award ceremony at St. Vincent Hospital in Harrison, Rishi was awarded a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from the office of Congressman Jamal Bowman.

In order to be considered for this prestigious award, all SHS students needed to submit an essay explaining the ways in which they use their acts of service to make the world a better place. To learn more about Rishi’s dedication to our community and why he was selected from a multitude of SHS applicants, you can read his essay here:

“In July of 2022, coming out of the pandemic, I felt disconnected from my grandparents who live abroad. I realized that a lot of other senior citizens must feel the same way being isolated from their loved ones, especially during the holidays. I also noticed grocery stores were throwing away expiring flowers as new inventory came in weekly. For me, these flowers, being in very good condition, could (and should !) be used to brighten smiles around our local community. Creating a sustainable solution to this issue while also catering towards the senior community seemed possible.

For those reasons, I founded Bouquet Buddy, a non-profit, local community service that donates flowers to hospitals, nursing homes, shelters, and any place where people need a little bit of happiness, free of cost, around Westchester County. Partnering with grocery stores and local florists who provide me with expiring flowers that would otherwise go to waste, I repurpose them into arrangements and distribute them.RishiRishi with Manuel Homem and SVP of St. Vincent’s Hospital Westchester, Bernadette Kingham -Bez

So far, Bouquet Buddy, has delivered about 3,000 bouquets to local facilities such as GiGi’s  Playhouse, the Hospice of Westchester, Scarsdale Senior Center, Eastchester Senior Center, Bristal Assisted Living, Garth Road Senior Center, Burke Rehabilitation Center, the Kensington, and Atria of Rye Brook. Every week, on Thursday evenings, we collect in the range of 30-75 buckets of flowers from different locations. After school on Fridays and Saturdays, I hand-deliver individual bouquets to the facilities.

I often connect with seniors during these visits. They genuinely appreciate the donations and look forward to seeing “the flower boy” each week. It’s really a win-win situation because this project was created looking to connect with the senior community, and Bouquet Buddy has done just that. My mom helps drive me to every location and I have gotten closer to my family during this process. Overall, this organization has taught me valuable skills. It has taught me patience, respectful communication with elders, disciplined work ethic and time management. Having delivered thousands of bouquets over the past 20 months has taken countless hours, I hope to find a way to keep the Bouquet Buddy going in some form long after I graduate from SHS. If you are interested in learning more about my organization (with photos), please take a look at my instagram account @bouquet.buddy.

In addition, since my freshman year of high school, I have also volunteered at the local firehouse to train in fire and emergency services as part of the Scarsdale Fire Explorers Program. I work directly with the well-trained firefighters who mentor me throughout the process. During these sessions, we learn through physical training/drills and about the protocols pertaining to emergency situations. I have come to admire and appreciate the volunteer spirit among the Scarsdale community and have trained to do my part one day.”

Congratulations Rishi Shadaksharappa on your well-deserved recognition.

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