At 16, Martha Gumprich has done more community service work than most people twice her age.
“I’ve done a lot of little things, and I just keep going,” says Gumprich, a Grade 11 Sardis secondary student.
All of those “little things” — and there are dozens of them — earned her a Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award last week during We Day Vancouver.
“She’s very determined, she’s thoughtful, she’s organized, and hard working so I thought she is the perfect balance for the Canadian Caring Award,” says Mt. Slesse teacher Sandi Rae who nominated Gumprich for the award.
Ever since she was little, Gumprich has been active in the community. Most recently, she went on a Me to We trip in March where she helped build a school in Kenya. She also helped fundraise for Free the Children and other relief funds, and joined Rotary’s Interact Club of Chilliwack.
“You have an outspoken young woman who sets goals and achieves them. She’s very deserving of a service award,” says Rae.
Rae was Gumprich’s Grade 9 leadership teacher two years ago. In Grade 10, she was one of 13 students who travelled to Oleleshwa, Kenya with Rae to build an all-girls high school.
The school in Oleleshwa is still under construction, but the students are currently using it. Each classroom is its own standalone building, and different groups help out by building different sections of the school.
The team from Mt. Slesse was there to move “thousands of rocks,” says Gumprich.
“Going to Kenya was one of the best decisions I’ve made. It’s opened my eyes to how people around the world live and made me more empathetic to the problems and challenges they face on a daily basis just trying to survive. Having raised the entire amount necessary for my trip by doing odd jobs, babysitting, and saving all my birthday and Hanukkah money, showed me that anything in life is achievable once you put your mind to it,” wrote Gumprich in a document submitted for the award nomination.
“It taught me the value of goal-setting, staying focused, and that sometimes, one has to sacrifice small things to achieve big things. Going to Kenya increased my global awareness and instilled in me the desire to travel, experience different cultures, and to continue working towards making a difference in other people’s lives.”
Gumprich was presented with the Caring Canadian Award on Oct. 21, the evening before We Day. Craig Kielburger, founder of Free the Children, presented her and nine others with their awards.
“I never thought I’d be the kind of kid who would win this award,” she says. “You hear about these other kids who do big things like start their own charity.”
Gumprich didn’t think the “little things” she had done could even compare.
“I found out the night before, so it was definitely a shock since I didn’t think I had won. I’m really proud of myself and I’m very honoured to receive this award.”
On top of that, she and Rae spoke on the We Day Vancouver stage in front of 20,000 students about their trip to Kenya.
“I felt very privileged to share the stage with so many people who had done incredible work,” says Gumprich.
In addition to all of her service work, Gumprich still squeezes in time for herself. She recently picked up rowing, and before that, she was involved with dance for seven years.
“I think you represent not just you, but you represent all of the students who do service work,” says Rae to Gumprich.
“They can do service and make a difference but they don’t have to be a slave to service. They can still have a life and do extra curricular activities, and that should be recognized just as much as those kids who have started their own organizations,” says Rae. “All of those things that Martha has done adds up. I think she does represent a greater body of kids.”
“It’s part of me, it’s what I do. I’ve been doing this stuff for my whole life,” says Gumprich. “I don’t have money to help, but I do have time to spend, and if I can help, then why wouldn’t I?”
Here is a list of some of Martha Gumprich’s achievements:
• prepared special-occasion dinners at synagogue
• helped little kids at Hebrew school
• donated hair twice to Locks of Love
• helped kids with special needs as an elementary school PEER mentor
• volunteered at various Rotary Club events including the annual Lobster Dinner, Dining By Design, and Runway for Rotary
• emceed Mt. Slesse’s anti-bullying awareness assembly
• volunteered at school dances and assemblies
• raised funds for Free the Children, Canadian Cancer Foundation, We Create Change, Philippine’s disaster relief fund, MS Walk, Sun Run (benefiting Raise A Reader campaign), Run Up For Down Syndrome, Colour Me Rad run (benefiting the Special Olympics), and Paddle With InspireHealth (benefiting Integrative Cancer Care)
• participated in a letter campaign to help save The Rainier Hotel
• attended We Day twice (2012, 2014)
• went on Me to We trip to Oleleshwa, Kenya to help build a school
• participated in Halloween For Hunger for Free the Children
• helped plan and run Sardis secondary’s very own Run For Water
• volunteered nearly 100 hours with Rotary’s Interact Club of Chilliwack; is currently vice president of the club and will be president next year
• helped with the Chilliwack Rotary Christmas Parade, Chilliwack YMCA’s family day, and more through Interact Club
• volunteered at the Canadian Masters Championship Regatta
• Sardis Kiwanis Club’s Student of The Month award for June, 2013
• Overall Achievement Award in Grade 9 for maintaining straight ‘A’s throughout the year
• Service Award in Grade 9 for helping in the community
• A Honours Award in Grade 10
• Exemplary Student Award for maintaining a 4.0 GPA throughout entire Grade 10 year