Maisie Ruddy, a senior at Fayetteville-Manlius, is a perfect example of the great work youth are doing in the Syracuse community. She has been a volunteer at Hopeprint, an organization dedicated to unifying diverse communities rich in culture and connectedness to prosper in place, for about a year and a half. Currently, she volunteers with them for three days a week as a one-on-one tutor and program assistant for youth. According to one of her supervisors, “She has gone above and beyond to make personal connections with the kids and each day she comes with new ideas for how to best support [them] in our community. From walking kids home, to bringing so much positive energy everyday- Maisie has shown a great regard for the north side community and every child in our programs.”
Maisie’s passions stem from trying to leave the world a little stronger than it was before. This is something she is able to see a lot while working at Hopeprint. “In just a few weeks,” she says, “a child can feel more empowered and able if you give them the right kind of love. A lot of students just need someone to believe and fight for them.” She mentions that even just making sure the kids’ math homework gets turned in on time yields a powerful impact that organizations like Hopeprint strive for. Maisie also derives immense inspiration from the kids she works with, stating, “The students there have honestly taught me just as much as I have taught them, if not more.” Maisie’s interests lie within the realm of the social sciences, politics and activism, and she hopes to go to college for International Relations and English, as she is a big reader. It is clear her passions, skills and experience will serve her well on her journey towards these goals.
Not only does Maisie engage and create positive change within Hopeprint, but she has also made an effort to be engaged in other ways within the Syracuse community. During her junior year, she founded a school club called HOMES For All, which has now spread to four other districts state-wide. HOMES For All is a coalition of high school students who fundraise, volunteer, and educate others to fight poverty and homelessness in central New York. She asserts that she never expected HOMES to gain the attraction it did, but that the work has been incredibly rewarding. Beyond Hopeprint and HOMES, she also volunteers with Camp Good Days & Special Times, a summer community program for children affected by cancer. COVID has strained the function of Camp Good Days, but she is hoping to be a counselor at the Syracuse branch’s day camp this summer.
Maisie enthusiastically states regarding the Syracuse community, “Whether it’s basketball, good food, or great people, the greater Syracuse community is so kind to one another. Everywhere you look there are incredible projects and small businesses blooming. We really have a city full of brilliant, open minds.” While there is much to appreciate within Syracuse, she is also aware of concerning areas that she would like to change. She states, “The income disparity in Syracuse is incredibly troubling. Between redlining on I-81 to racially systemic poverty, Syracuse tops the list of worst places to live for Black Americans. This is the same reason that our city schools are incredibly underfunded and overpopulated. If I had the power to change one thing about Syracuse, it would be that a free and easy life was accessible to more people.”
In all, Maisie says she believes in Syracuse because it is resilient. The people of Syracuse are feisty and independent, and because of that, she believes we rise to the challenge of issues that can feel overwhelming. She mentions that local leaders are always bringing important conversations to schools, whether it be about domestic violence, homelessness, or refugees. With this mindset, Maisie remarks, “When I work with kids in Syracuse, I can tell that we are raising a generation of kind, strong citizens.”