Just in time for college-application season, Friends School of Baltimore senior Noah Gainsburg added an impressive title to his resume: St. Francis Neighborhood Center’s Volunteer of the Year. At 18, this Reisterstown native has dedicated more than 300 volunteer hours to Reservoir Hill’s SFNC, a nonprofit that offers youth development programs for families living below the federal poverty line.
Gainsburg was introduced to nonprofit work through his mother’s involvement with local and national organizations, but it wasn’t until he heard about SFNC from a classmate that he knew where he wanted to dedicate his time. “St. Francis is like the hidden little gem of Baltimore,” Gainsburg says. “It’s amazing how much they can do at a relatively small organization.”
Over the past two years, Gainsburg has made a tremendous impact on the center, one that will last long after he trades Charm City for a yet-to-be-determined college town. Through two collection drives last year, he collected enough school supplies for all 60 of SFNC’s enrolled youth, as well as more than 600 coats last winter.
Last summer, he worked as a teaching assistant for SFNC’s third to fifth grade students, and, instead of getting paid, he donated his earnings back to the center. “I grew up with dyslexia and dysgraphia, and, in a lot of the students, I see the issues that they have in school on a more personal level,” he says.
Additionally, Gainsburg’s parting gift to the center, a $5,000 fundraising campaign for its academic program, The Power Project, has surpassed its goal and continues to grow. “For a young man in his teens, I would say Noah’s superhero gift is empathy,” says SFNC Executive Director Christi Green. “It’s very hard for a young teenager to have the level of empathy that he does.”
With a new beginning on the horizon, Gainsburg says he plans to continue his commitment to volunteer work at his new school. “No matter where I end up, I’m going to be building communities,” he says. “I’m going to be involving myself as much as I possibly can.”