Samaia A. Goodrich is a 13-year-old Syracuse City School District honor roll student with a servant’s heart. She organizes projects in her community to encourage youth in the City of Syracuse, and the world, to make a difference “Now and Forever”. “My parents say that I used to write the word ‘love’ all over the house,” says Samaia. “I have always loved to help and give to others.” While in third grade, Samaia started the “Let Our Voices Echo (LOVE) Project – Syracuse.” Her first initiative was collecting bottles to recycle and then purchasing LOVE Project T-shirts for her classmates to wear as they helped clean up their school grounds and a park in the neighborhood. This endeavor helped secure her first award from Syracuse University and the Syracuse City School District. She became the youngest student to receive the Martin Luther King Jr. Unsung Hero Award in 2017.
Later that year, after visiting a family member in a nursing home, Samaia was moved to create a project that would bring joy to the elderly and residents of a local nursing home. She introduced her peers to Global Youth Service Day, and led the way in implementing the LOVE Kits Project. They collected personal hygiene items, crossword puzzles and more; and then spent the day playing BINGO with and reading to the residents. Yet, the young philanthropist didn’t stop there.
Like everyone, Samaia was saddened to see the effects of Hurricane Maria on the news. When she heard that families with children were moving to her community from Puerto Rico she immediately sprang into action. “I just knew that I had to do something to help the kids and families who lost everything,” she said. She came up with a plan to give Christmas presents to the new arrivals and make it their “best Christmas ever.” She shared her idea with her parents and recruited friends, school officials and her student council to help. Samaia then sought donations of food, clothing, gift cards and new toys by distributing a promotional flier, sending letters to businesses and setting up donation boxes. With the help of more than 60 volunteers, Samaia raised thousands of dollars in both cash and in-kind donations to help make Christmas bright for the new students and their families. The gifts were presented at a bilingual Christmas celebration proudly hosted by Samaia and members of the LOVE Project.
With years of service under her belt, Samaia became the first student from the City of Syracuse to be named a Prudential Spirit of Community State and National Awardee in 2019. She continues to develop and implement service projects that bring people, both young and the young at heart, together to make a difference in their communities and the world-at-large.
Samaia is the recipient of numerous awards including the Jack and Jill Award for Community Service and Leadership, the Girls of Merit Award (Girls World Expo), the BLOOM Achievement Award (Academics and Service), and the Heart of Service Award (National American Miss). With all of these accolades, the young philanthropist remains humble. “I just want young people like me to know that it’s not about what we can’t do, but what we can do to make a difference in our own lives and communities”.
Volunteer, Chief Operations Officer
Director of Image and Leadership
Director of Education and Leadership
Director of Recruitment and Leadership
Director of Creativity and Leadership
Director of Development and Leadership
Steering Committee Co-Chair
Steering Committee Co-Chair