Mae Lobrano, a senior at Academy of Sacred Heart, loves to dance with the Jesuit Jayettes, act with Sacred Heart Academy’s drama department and golf with their golf team. But Lobrano does more than keep a full extracurricular calendar – she also co-founded Teens Helping Teens, a nonprofit organization, and she volunteers at the Royal Castle Child Development Center.

Lobrano’s first memory of volunteering was with the Girl Scouts in the third grade. Her troop picked oranges from Lobrano’s grandparents’ orange grove and brought 30 boxes of navel oranges to Ozanam Inn on Camp Street. “I remember that the workers at Ozanam Inn were so excited about getting the oranges and said they were gold to them because they provided vitamin C to the homeless during the freeze,” says Lobrano. “I was empathetic toward the homeless, but at the same time, I felt good that we were helping people who were less fortunate than us.”

In 2009, Lobrano helped co-found Teens Helping Teens to encourage, organize and recruit other teenagers to volunteer for community service projects by utilizing social networking websites.

The first project that Lobrano participated in with Teens Helping Teens was to organize a group of teenagers to volunteer at the New Orleans Sheriff’s 33rd Annual Thanksgiving Feast at the Convention Center. The organization used Facebook, emails, phone calls and text messages to organize 20 teenagers to serve Thanksgiving dinner to members of the community.

“Working together on a project with other teenagers brings us closer together as friends,” Lobrano says, “We share a feeling of accomplishment.”

In 2010, Lobrano volunteered at the Royal Castle Child Development Center, an organization that provides a learning environment for inner-city children up to age 5. This opportunity fostered her love of children and infants.

“I have learned through volunteering that one person, one idea or one organization can truly make a difference in a person’s life and help an entire community. I have also learned that helping just one person in any way can make a difference,” says Lobrano. “Also, I have discovered that volunteering gives me that confidence to take a chance and try to make a difference in our community.”

After graduating high school, Lobrano would like to study medicine and become a doctor. She plans to work with Children’s Health Fund, or a similar nonprofit to provide health care to underprivileged children in New Orleans.