“One simple act of kindness can have a rippling effect. The more involved we become in our communities, the more we can create the positive changes we want to see in the world,” says Madeline Lorraine Puente, a recently graduated senior from St. Mary’s Dominican High School.
Puente’s most rewarding volunteer experience was going on a school mission trip during Mardi Gras to Bani, Dominican Republic. Puente and her schoolmates taught in schools and provided support to the community.
“Until I arrived in Bani, I never fully grasped the reality of living without simple comforts and conveniences. Americans often take so much for granted, such as having electricity, clean water, technology and an education,” she says.
Throughout her community, Puente is a member of City of Kenner’s Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and the Audubon Junior Zookeepers, and she has volunteered at Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and the Rotary Club of Metairie. Puente was also involved at her school, where she was a member of Student Council, Veritas Volunteers Service Club and served as a Student Preacher, just to name a few.
Puente created and organized an event to honor her best friend, Ashley Code. September of her senior year, Code passed away from a brain tumor. The event was called Ashley Code Day: Pay it forward. On this day, students from 22 different high schools were asked to perform random acts of kindness on what would have been Code’s 18th birthday.
“To know that thousands of people participated, and will continue to participate, in spreading kindness to others on this day brought me such happiness, and I know, Ashley also,” says Puente. “Ashley in her own right was a relentless activist for Christ. She may have been young but she was tremendously mature in her spirituality.”
Puente’s mother, Karen Lacour Puente, has inspired her to become an activist. She taught Puente the values of courage, kindness, service and thoughtfulness.
“The life my mom leads is one I want to emulate, because everywhere she goes she brings joy to others’ lives. This is why I became an activist, because I want to help better people’s lives in every possible way, just like my mom,” she says.
Puente is attending the University of Alabama in the fall and plans to have a career in medicine. She wants to be involved with the Catholic Church and various service organizations on campus.