Help a Moorestown student represent the township in Europe

A 15-year-old Moorestown High School sophomore and an active participant in FEP, the Friends Enrichment Program for financially disadvantaged Moorestown children, has been nominated and subsequently invited to participate in a 2012 People to People Student Ambassador trip to Europe.

If all goes according to plan, Desiree Williams will travel 19 days this summer.

As a representative of the community and country, she will visit France, Italy and Greece. In each of these countries, she will take part in educational and cultural activities aimed at fostering international understanding.

People to People programs originated in 1956. They were initiated by President Eisenhower, as means of easing Cold War tensions via cultural exchanges and diplomatic alternatives. The programs offer qualifying students life-changing opportunities to increase their knowledge of the world.

To be considered for participation, a student must be nominated and must be the bearer of three recommendations, including two from recent teachers.

To be invited is an honor, but to a child from a family of modest means, it presents a challenge.

“Even though I look forward to this great experience, the tuition is much higher than my family can afford,” Desiree noted in a written appeal for community support and sponsorship, which she sent to local businesses and organizations.

To defray the cost of the trip, she would need $6,000 beyond the two payments totaling $900 that she already made.

As she stated in her letter, Desiree has “high expectations.” A determined young person, she is confident that she will be able to amass the necessary amount by mid-May, when she will have to make her last payment. “I don’t have all the money yet, but I will have it,” she says.

To raise money for the trip, she has been setting aside her babysitting earnings and is selling Mama’s Homemade Cookies, which she and her grandmother bake in her grandmother’s kitchen. To the cookie sale, she is now adding a hoagie fundraiser. She is available for babysitting on Friday and Saturday evenings. Another attempt to raise funds for the trip is weather-dependent. After each snowstorm, she plans to go door-to-door, offering her shoveling services to local residents.

FEP has known Desiree since she was a baby, the youngest of five siblings who benefited from the enrichment scholarships that FEP has been awarding to financially qualifying Moorestown children since 1997. FEP has watched her progress through the years. Since her high school freshman year, she has given back to FEP, first as a counselor-in-training, then as a counselor and as the group’s praise-dancing instructor. A volunteer who regularly participates in the FEP Sunday afternoon program of activities during the school year, Desiree has contributed an impressive total of 85 hours of community service to the program since the fall of 2010.

In May of 2010, Desiree was one of three outstanding high school FEP volunteers whom FEP referred to Perkins Center for the Arts for summer volunteer jobs in the Summer Arts Camp program. Anyone who may wish to help Desiree raise funds for the People to People trip should contact Monique Begg, chairperson of FEP, at (856) 235–3963.