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2017 Hats Off Nonprofit Awards Volunteer of the Year, Ava Goldstone, Honored with International Youth Award

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Monday, March 26, 2018

Original story can be found here

Ava Goldstone, an 18-year old young woman who has helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars and volunteered countless hours to support children with disabilities, has been named the 2018 CARTER Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, Individual, by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

The CARTER Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy honors a young person with a proven record of exceptional generosity who demonstrates outstanding civic and charitable responsibility and whose philanthropy encourages others to engage on a community, national, and/or international level.

"I feel so fortunate to be recognized by the Association for Fundraising Professionals for my role in bringing the Boundless Dreams Playground to fruition,” said Ava. “Once built, Boundless Dreams will be a hub of energy and excitement for my community."

Ava, a senior at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has become a champion for children with disabilities through her work and fundraising for The Miracle League of Palm Beach County (MLPBC). The League is a nonprofit that provides activities for children with disabilities through baseball.

Ava started her engagement as a volunteer buddy, helping children hold a bat, hit a ball, and run the bases. Soon, however, she wanted to do more, so she secured an internship with MLPBC, helping to organize the organization’s first annual Dinner on the Diamond, which ultimately raised $60,000.

But Ava’s work was just starting. Noticing that a nearby playground was not accessible for children with wheelchairs and other supporting equipment, she began to research and raise funds for new equipment that would accommodate all of the children participating in MLPBC, as well as other children in the community. Her Boundless Dreams Playground project was born.

Ava’s ambitious goal was $210,000. She began her fundraising efforts by creating a calendar of MLPBC kids in action, which sold out, and then spearheading a mini-golf event. Each event raised $2,500. She then worked with staff at MLPBC to write two successful grants to the Women’s Impact 100 and the Men’s Impact 100, which awarded Boundless Dreams $100,000 and $50,000, respectively.

Most recently, Ava participated in the Palm Beach Philanthropy Tank, where she presented her project to four community philanthropists. Her Boundless Dreams Playground project was awarded the top grant of $15,000.  Two other philanthropists in the audience saw her presentation and were so inspired that they invited her to submit requests for funding.  Ava made in-person presentations to both of these philanthropists (one foundation and one individual), and received two grants totaling $40,000—reaching her final goal of $210,000!

“The impact Ava is having on the world around her is incredible for someone so young. We can all learn from the selfless and creative example she sets, no matter what our age,” said Bob Carter, CFRE, chairman of Carter, a consulting firm that helps nonprofits across the globe maximize their philanthropic potential. “Not only should we listen to young adults, but we should also encourage their generous acts of kindness and charity, especially when many people only get to see the darker side of human nature. It is Carter’s intention, and has been since our founding, to help ensure philanthropy’s future by internationally highlighting outstanding young people like Ava.”

With over 60,000 people in Palm Beach County with special needs, the construction of the Boundless Dreams Playground will provide all children with the access to a barrier-free and inclusive play area.  The City of Delray Beach, Fla., will have its first barrier-free playground and has agreed to take care of the ongoing maintenance of the playground.  Ava’s work with The Miracle League also has sparked her desire to advocate for the special needs community in her future educational and occupational endeavors.

“What else can you say about a person who has demonstrated the kind of generosity, spirit, and commitment that Ava has?” said Mike Geiger, president and CEO of AFP. “What she has done is so impressive for a person of any age, and the impact she has made will be felt for decades to come in her community. All of us at AFP are humbled to be able to recognize her for her extraordinary philanthropic work.”

More information about Ava Goldstone, along with the AFP International Fundraising Conference, can be obtained by contacting Michael Nilsen at (425) 241 – 4675 or mnilsen@afpnet.org.

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