Scholarship Review

Noah Calisti

Greensburg Salem High School
Senior? Yes
Elite top 100? Yes
Letters of recommendation: Letter of Recommendation 1, Letter of Recommendation 2


Throughout my life I have paid special attention to the opportunities for me to bless my community. Many of these volunteering opportunities have come through my church’s youth group. My favorite (and largest) volunteering activity came 1,400 miles away. In 2018, I and 29 other members of my church (largely youth) travelled to Houston, TX for nine days. Through an organization called ReachGlobal, we stayed at a small church and helped repair homes damaged by Hurricane Harvey. For the week, we split into small teams of around six, each group working at a different house. My responsibilities included painting trim and doors and then installing those doors. While it seemed relatively simple on paper, the volunteer work extended far beyond physical labor. ReachGlobal emphasized “people over projects.” This means that we should prioritize talking to the homeowners over getting the most work possible done. Groups came every week, so work would be completed regardless. However, getting to know the people affected was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. That week, I both got plenty of work done and talked a lot with Jeff and Gloria, our homeowners. They had a very interesting story, and I am glad that I got to know them. All in all, Houston taught me how easy it is to do big things. I simply made myself available, willing to do whatever was asked of me. By just doing that, I participated in the best trip of my life while blessing people far away from my home.
After Houston, I took the lessons learned and applied them to my own hometown. Every year, my youth group serves the Cancer Survivor’s Meal at our local Relay for Life (I have participated four times). I also help with our Vacation Bible School, volunteering with the games station. Unofficially, my friends from church formed a group where we get together to do service projects around the community. I have helped with projects like cleaning up the streets of Greensburg and doing yardwork for a friend’s relative. Groups like these help me see how many chances there are to assist those around me. We haven’t been able to meet recently due to school and holidays, but I made sure to stay active regardless. In the summer, I volunteered for two shifts at a lemonade stand at our Arts and Heritage Festival. The lemonade stand was run by my school’s MiniTHON, which raises money to fight childhood cancer. Later that summer I went to Mahaffey Camp to work children’s games for Family Camp. It was my second year going, and I had a blast. My church once again packed boxes for Operation Christmas Child, and I made sure to attend our youth group’s boxing night. That night, we packed over 100 boxes using donations made by members of the youth group. Most of these activities aren’t particularly glamorous or even very difficult. However, by simply paying attention to the needs of my community, a little effort can go a long way.