The below was in the St Pete times on August 21, 2001
Girl knows it's better to receive, then give
A 14-year-old helper at Girls Inc. decides to recycle a reward.
By JOHN REINAN
© St. Petersburg Times,
published August 22, 2001
PINELLAS PARK -- Your average teenager could do a lot of things with an extra $100.
But it takes an above-average teen to do what Ashlee Farrell did.
Ashlee, 14, spent this summer as she has so many summers before: at the Girls Inc. center in Pinellas Park.
Girls Inc. offers educational and recreational programs to build girls' skills and confidence. The organization operates three centers in Pinellas County serving more than 500 girls in elementary and middle school.
Ashlee has been a regular at Girls Inc. since she was 7, attending summer sessions as well as daily after-school programs.
This year, she was one of a half-dozen older girls who served as junior staff members in Pinellas Park, helping to run the center and mentor the younger girls.
At the end of the summer, each of the junior staffers was given a $100 honorarium for their hard work.
But Ashlee didn't use hers for clothes, CDs or movie tickets. She bought school supplies and games for the center.
"It's my last year here and I wanted to help it be a better place," said Ashlee, who is entering ninth grade at Pinellas Park High School.
But turning over the money wasn't so simple. At first, Ashlee asked if she could just give back her honorarium. Girls Inc. officials said they wouldn't take it.
So with her parents' blessing, she asked if she could make a donation. Girls Inc. accepted.
Ashlee and a friend, along with Pinellas Park center director Peggy Cameron, went to Wal-Mart and bought crayons, coloring books, alphabet and math cards, board games and school supplies.
Ashlee's decision puzzled some of the other girls.
"The other junior staff all said, "Why are you doing this?' " Ashlee recalled.
But it made a big impression on the Girls Inc. staff.
"We all learn that it's better to give than to receive, and Ashlee represents that," said Betty Bloomer Crames, executive director of Girls Inc. of Pinellas.
"It was very touching. All of us were in tears," said Helen Buckwad, Crames' assistant.
Many of the girls served by Girls Inc. are from low-income, single-parent families. Ashlee's parents, Jody and Scott Farrell, are married and both work -- Scott as an auto-body painter and Jody as an accountant.
An only child, Ashlee said she feels fortunate to come from an intact family. Now, the supplies she bought are helping girls less fortunate than she.
"We had a mother call today to thank us," Crames said. "She's on disability, and some of Ashlee's things went to her daughter."
Ashlee said she's merely applying some of the lessons she learned during her years at Girls Inc.
"It taught me how to be more responsible, how to be a role model, how to treat others with respect," she said. "I'm pretty sad about leaving, but I have many wonderful memories."