Attending school as a senior at both Mandeville High School and NOCCA|Riverfront, studying creative writing, applying for colleges and still finding time to volunteer locally and nationally makes Avery Friend fully qualified to be considered a Student Activist.
During the past year, Friend has been committed to a number of causes including actively participating in animal-rights organizations such as Save the Manatees Club in Florida, which she has been active in since she was 9. Locally, Friend has volunteered with the Humane Society and the St. Tammany Animal Rescue Team. Her work with the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation even gave her an opportunity to write a creative nonfiction piece for NOCCA.
Over the past few years, Friend has been involved in many political causes across the country; she has protested the handling of the Iraq War and the death penalty, and has supported equal rights for all genders, races and sexualities. Through these different forms of activism, Friend has been involved with many organizations including: Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace, The School of the Americas Watch, The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, The National Organization for Women and Code Pink.
“As much as I know that it’s important to fight for the things I believe in, sometimes it can be disheartening to try and make a difference in something intangible, something that can’t be changed overnight,” says Friend. This is exactly why Friend has immersed herself into animal rescue. “Shortly after Katrina, I went into New Orleans and worked with a friend and her family to rescue cats and dogs who had been left behind. Being able to physically rescue those animals, even reunite some of them with their owners, was an incredible feeling.”
Friend believes that activism is a habit that teenagers need to get into at a young age. She believes that everyone cares about something and there is an easy way to get involved locally or nationally to help the community. Friend says, “Teenagers can be very focused on their own lives – I know I am – and it’s critical that we remember that we can make a difference if we want to.”
Volunteering has given Friend many more opportunities to explore the opportunities available to her. “There’s something nice about looking around and realizing that if I wanted to I could spend my life in Florida working to rescue manatees, or traveling the country speaking out against the death penalty. There will always
be something to fight for and through the people I’ve met,
I’m realizing that there will always be people who will be willing to fight for it.”