When Adolfo Rodriguez started recruiting students and teachers to join buildOn for a knitting project at Central High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, he had no idea that his hard work would eventually land him an award from a local hospital. But that is exactly what happened to the 15-year-old freshman.
Passionate about serving his community, Adolfo led fellow students in creating hats for newborns to donate to St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. The hospital was so moved by their knitted gifts that they presented Adolfo with the Values Recognition Award—an honor that is typically reserved for hospital staff who go above and beyond the call of duty through an act of kindness.
Above: Adolfo (center) stands with St. Vincent Medical Center staff and one of his buildOn Service Learning Program Coordinators from Central High School, Laura Callachan (far right), after receiving the Values Award.
Lucinda Ames, the Mission Services Coordinator at St. Vincent’s, was particularly touched by Adolfo’s generosity and nominated him for the Values Award. “The project, creating hats for babies, shows reverence for a very vulnerable sector of our population, and also a respect for diversity,” Lucinda wrote in her nomination of Adolfo. “When the hats are presented, there are no language or other barriers among our patients, just a pure moment of joy understood by all.”
“It shows that people as young as Adolfo are thinking about giving back and giving to others and to a project that is going to bring joy to a family in the community. It builds a solidarity.”
The colorful hats have been a hit among growing families and even the hospital staff at St. Vincent’s. According to Lucinda, the decision to give Adolfo the Values Recognition Award was unanimous. “Our staff was very impressed that someone that young would do this. It’s very inspirational. The staff feel that people are thinking about them and their patients,” Lucinda says. “It shows that people as young as Adolfo are thinking about giving back and giving to others and to a project that is going to bring joy to a family in the community. It builds a solidarity. It is such a positive thing that he came forward to do this, to help people that he didn’t even know and people of many cultures.”
The experience has meant a lot to Adolfo, as well. “When I gave the hats to the hospital,” Adolfo explains, “a family chose to keep the hat that I personally knitted for their baby and that made me feel very peaceful because it showed me that I made a contribution to the community.”
Above: Adolfo (right) poses for a picture with a family after giving them a hat knitted for their newborn child. “It made me feel great just because they didn’t have a hat until we got there,” Adolfo says.
Adolfo first learned to knit in seventh grade at Reed School, which is located just blocks from St. Vincent’s Medical Center. He has always wanted to serve his community, but it wasn’t until he joined buildOn that he was able to stitch together his passions for service and knitting. “As a kid, I knew I wanted to help people,” Adolfo explains. “buildOn gave me that extra step up to show that in the world there are people who need help. It allows me to be with them. If they need an extra hand, I’ll be there for them.”
Upon receiving the award at the Values Recognition Ceremony, Adolfo was sure to share the recognition. “I am dearly honored to accept this award but I’m not the only one who deserves it. The whole buildOn community at Central High School deserves recognition, too,” Adolfo said. “I want to thank everyone at St. Vincent’s hospital for allowing buildOn and Central High School to give this contribution.”
Below: Adolfo, Laura (far left), and staff at St. Vincent’s Medical Center show off the colorful hats for newborns.