By Rich Polt
Published December 10, 2012
I cannot help but marvel at the passion, commitment and smarts of the 20-somethings that we feature here in Talking GOOD. I think back to my own 20s and realize how self-obsessed I was at that time of my life. It’s a testament to the maturity of these individuals and also, I suspect, to a generation of kids who came of age in a post 9/11 world (as opposed to the “Me Decade” of the 70s and 80s).
Beth Awalt, co-founder of The Starfish Foundation, is one such individual. While studying at Villanova University, Beth planned and led service trips to Guatemala and Cambodia. More recently she volunteered with Hand in Hand Baltimore and worked for the Esperanza Center. And this past spring, Beth received the Archdiocese of Baltimore Volunteer Award and was named an Emily C. Specchio Ambassador Program Fellow.
Still in her early 20s, Beth’s has now co-built a foundation that provides impoverished students in Ecuador with guidance, tutoring, and scholarships so they may continue their education and escape the cycle of poverty. While so many students in America are now thinking only of vacation and the holidays, Beth is focused on those students who will be lucky enough if they can finish school at all. Thanks Beth for the work you do, for leading by example, and for sharing of yourself in this blog.
The 10 questions
IN JUST ONE SENTENCE, WHAT IS YOUR PURPOSE IN LIFE?
My purpose in life is to exhibit agape in all I do: divine, thoughtful, unconditional, self-sacrificing love.
WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH BEFORE YOU “EXPIRE?”
I would love to change the course of nature for someone (or many someones!) in poverty, by giving them the tools to break that chain themselves.
IF YOU COULD MEET WITH ANYONE (ALIVE), WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU ASK THEM?
I would love to meet with Father Gregory Boyle, SJ. Father Greg works with gang members in Los Angeles, teaching them the importance of turning their lives around – and providing them the means to do so. His novel Tattoos on the Heart combines strong love with immense dedication in the face of massive challenges. I would ask Father Greg how he stays patient and hopeful with these young men, despite the setbacks of working with such an at-risk population.
WHO WOULD PLAY YOU, IN A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE?
Someone with a LOT of passion and spunk! And someone else who realizes that smiling is often the fastest way to brighten someone’s day. Perhaps Alexis Bledel? I think of her most in her role as Rory Gilmore, on “Gilmore Girls” — where her character has drive to spend time with people and determination to succeed in all she does.
WHAT IS A BELIEF THAT IS CORE TO YOUR BEING?
There is something good in every individual. Like Abraham Lincoln once said, “I do not like that man; I must get to know him better.”
WHO ARE YOUR HEROES?
John and Kathy Tucker are high on my list, after they dropped their luxurious lives to found a non-profit organization in Cambodia. I volunteered there through Villanova University’s Service Break Experience Program a few years ago, and I am constantly amazed and humbled by their innovation, passion and love for the people they serve – both within New Hope for Cambodian Children and outside of it.
IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS, WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING?
As much as I’d love to say I’d be parsing through emails, updating social media pages, etc. – I suspect I’d actually be watching Friends. I think I actually have all ten seasons memorized…
TELL US SOMETHING SURPRISING ABOUT YOURSELF.
I recently encountered a wild bear on a rural road in Wisconsin! Don’t worry, we were inside a car with Rudolph antlers and a red nose – the bear just wanted to make a friend.