Genevieve Kennedy’s first memory of charity was when a member of her old youth group asked her dad to buy basic bathroom goods they couldn’t afford.
Seeing a Citrus County neighbor having trouble getting things others might take for granted helped inspire Genevieve to find her own path toward giving back to her community.
Most recently, the 17-year-old Crystal River High School senior was able to secure a $5,000 donation from Arnie and Diane Ross, of the San Francisco Fund, to be split between the Citrus County Education Foundation (CCEF) and Citrus County Blessings.
Since her freshman year, Genevieve has partnered with Blessings and the CCEF to bring more personal items, food and school supplies closer to children and families who need them.
“These are two great organizations to help volunteer for,” Genevieve said.
CCEF Executive Director Shaunda Burdette and Blessings Executive Director Christina Reed said Genevieve’s selflessness motivates other students to lend their struggling classmates a hand.
“It helps to normalize it, and it helps those students feel more comfortable asking for assistance and receiving that assistance,” Reed said. “The more students we get involved, the better it’s going to be for us.”
“It’s so important to have a voice from the frontline,” Burdette added.
Genevieve is the chair of the Blessings board of directors’ high school student representative group for the nonprofit.
Reed and Burdette said Genevieve’s ability to provide aid without expressing a hint of judgement is invaluable when it comes to building a relationship between those unconfident or unsure to ask for assistance.
“There’s integrity and trust there so students an adults will come to her if they have needs,” Burdette said, “and that’s what sets her apart from other school leaders — her compassion without judgement.”
Florida Southern College accepted Genevieve into its bachelors of nursing program for next fall.
Genevieve — a two-time semifinalist of the FHSAA Swimming and Diving State Championships for Class 2A — said she might get into the pool to compete for her next school.
Burdette and Reed said nonprofits countywide are uniting to coordinate their array of services and target those most vulnerable during the COVID-19 era.
“We’re definitely doing a whole lot more than we ever knew we could,” Burdette said. “There’s always a need that’s out there for us.”
With each endeavor the organizations take to meet growing and varied demands, Citrus County is right behind them.
“It’s just been amazing,” Reed said. “Our numbers are rising, but our needs are being met.”