2011 Superheroes for Washington families: Shandra Benito
Last summer, 19-year-old Shandra Benito — with the help of Ashoka’s Youth Venture — founded Reach Out, an organization that runs summer camps and programs for children at Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services (ADWAS).
It was just the latest in a long list of accomplishments for Benito, who led the trumpet section in the Roosevelt High School marching band before moving on to Seattle University, where she was honored with the prestigious Sullivan Leadership Award. She also has served as a Teens in Public Service intern at the Ballard Food Bank, tutored students in low-income areas and given music lessons in schools where music programs have been cut. Benito accomplished all this after being diagnosed with hearing loss at the age of 2.
“Having a young, energetic, hard-of-hearing woman leading great activities for our kids, educating our larger community about experiences around domestic violence in deaf, deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing communities, and coordinating activities we might not otherwise have the resources to run makes a huge impact on the experience of the kiddos we work with,” says Sadie Pile, the children’s advocate at ADWAS. “Shandra’s motivation to provide this opportunity for them had a fantastic impact. Kids are still, months later, asking about the mentor-friends they made that week, and their world has expanded a little.” — Kathleen F. Miller
Get to know Shandra Benito...
Personal hero: My dear friend Michael Wiley. His friendship completely changed my life and inspired me to want to do the same for others. He is currently serving in the Peace Corps in Azerbaijan, and is one of the wittiest and wisest people I know.
Pet peeve: The word “sure” — it’s so noncommittal, it drives me nuts!
Best recent read: Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
Best way to get kids involved in giving back: Do what you love! There are a million ways to get involved with the communities around you doing what you love, whether it’s giving music lessons, coaching or providing free art classes. There’s no one right way to make a difference.
Flip ahead to meet the rest of our 2011 Superheroes:
Karen Kodama, Seattle Public Schools
Dr. Beth Harvey, pediatrician
Ron Sher, creator of local retail centers
Rebecca Mallos, Attachment and Trauma Specialists
Mike Heinisch, Kent Youth and Family Services
Karen Bryant, The Seattle Storm