Young volunteer aims to make a difference

Valery Carpio, a 12-year-old Middle Village resident, likes to give back.
On May 16, the seventh-grade honor student at The Dorothy Bonawit Kole School worked for hours with Officer Barnwell and Officer Cherenfant of the 112th Precinct, this columnist, aunt Julia Carpio and grandma Judy Pesantez to paint several green relay mailboxes and scrub blue mailboxes in Forest Hills.
Unsightly graffiti and rust that built up for approximately 15 years became a distant memory within hours. The paint was donated by Gleason Paint Place in Woodside.
“A lot of days I walk around or I’m in a car, and I see graffiti everywhere,” Carpio said. “It doesn’t make the community look great. Once we cleaned up the mailboxes, I saw how much nicer and cleaner the whole community is.”
Local residents and business owners, including Yosef Simhayev of NY Hot Bagels & Bialys, thanked Carpio, inspiring her to volunteer more.
“We walked around to each mailbox and saw everybody thanking us and congratulating us for our work,” she said. “The smallest thing you can do can change everybody’s perspective.”
Carpio also volunteered for the Arts For Life competition, a recent breast cancer fundraising initiative in partnership with Paddle For The Cure, Elmhurst Hospital, and Ridgewood Savings Bank.
She even submitted a work of her own, a pink ribbon along with floral elements titled “Love, Life, Nature Forever.” It is now part of a permanent display for cancer patients and their families at Elmhurst Hospital.
“My artwork represents the hope and love that I have for all the patients,” Carpio said. “I am hoping to visit Elmhurst Hospital and see how my artwork is presented.”
Carpio hopes she can encourage other residents and her classmates to volunteer.
“When everybody’s collaborating, we can make a whole community nice and clean,” she said. “We can pick up garbage in parks, do more for our environment, and continue to help like we did last weekend.”
When Carpio is not volunteering, her passions are singing and acting. She was recently in a school production of “The Little Mermaid.”
“We understand that it’s not only important to work hard and get good grades, but find ways to make yourself relevant by going out there,” said her father, Mauricio Carpio. “Valery approached me and said she wanted to find ways to contribute to the community.”