Kenedi Board displays the qualities of a passionate public servant through her dedication to transforming the lives of those younger than her. A resident of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, she has spent much of her time serving her community by helping to lead the collection of materials for children in need through the organizations Help 4 Kids and Backpack Buddies. She also participates in many other volunteer opportunities within her local area of Horry County.
A sophomore at Christian Academy of Myrtle Beach, Kenedi is active on her school’s varsity cheerleading and volleyball teams and takes part in her school’s Student Government. She is also a participant in the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy — a national high school leadership program that encourages students to impact their local communities through action.
Kenedi holds the title of “Teen Miss Horry County 2020” through local scholarship pageants. She has been able to take part in many volunteer opportunities partnered with other girls with similar local titles.
FINDING VOLUNTEER PATHS
Over the last two years, Kenedi has been able to participate in 11 service projects. She said she is very grateful for the many opportunities that participating in pageants have given her.
“I don’t participate in these pageants for the titles,” Kenedi said. “I have always been involved in and a part of my community. But I truly think that doing pageants and having a title has given me a bit of a platform to make it easier to get things done and to be a role model in the community.”
Kenedi emphasized the personal importance she feels to always set a good example. As a volunteer cheerleading director with All-Star Sports Camp for the past two years, she has been able to teach younger kids.
“At the sports camp this past summer, one of the younger girls came to me and said that she wanted to try out for her cheerleading team at school but she was worried because she didn’t know the basics. I think it was really great that she was able to step out of her comfort zone after that and learn the fundamentals because she was able to look up to someone older than her with experience in something she wanted to pursue,” Kenedi said.
Kenedi also explained other ways she is able to set good examples at school for other students.
“I think it’s really important to be a role model for younger kids,” Kenedi said. “I’m a teacher’s assistant for the second graders, and I’m always with younger kids at school. I feel that it’s good for them to have someone to look up to. At the same time, it’s good for a lot of kids my own age to see their peers out doing good things in the community because maybe it will lead them to also help. I want to know that in a couple of years, when I leave for college, that I have started a foundation here and that maybe these kids will want to follow positive things I have been able to accomplish.”
Kenedi’s drive to transform her community has led her to assist with a food drive at her school through Help 4 Kids, a local volunteer organization working to provide food for children in need.
“We were able to collect more than 400 cans of food for local children,” she said. “We felt really blessed by the turnout.”
Among other service projects, Kenedi has volunteered with Miles for Smiles — a transport van that goes from school to school within the state to explain to children the importance of proper oral hygiene. She collected donations such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, supplies the Miles for Smiles team needs to properly help and teach at the schools they visit.
Kenedi also traveled to Charlotte to help pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child, a project that sends gift-filled shoeboxes to children in need around the world. Kenedi said volunteering there gave her an opportunity to see its importance.
“Operation Christmas Child was something that helped me to see that it’s not me doing the work; it’s God doing His work through me,” she said.
LIVING THROUGH FAITH
Though originally from High Point, North Carolina, Kenedi moved to South Carolina when she was 5 years old because of her father’s job as a multi-site pastor and the need for a pastor at Barefoot Church in North Myrtle Beach. She said she has been surrounded by Christianity her entire life, and the role her faith plays in her life now is as important as ever.
“I grew up in church. My grandpa is a pastor. My dad is a pastor; I’ve always gone to a Christian school. I’ve been in a Christ-centered environment my whole life. At first, I didn’t really understand it because I was younger, but these past few years it has really shown me that He made us and created us not just to live, but to live with a purpose,” Kenedi said. “I’ve found that my purpose is to lead others to serve in their communities. Obviously, this world isn’t going to last forever, but we can make it a better place while we’re here. I think it’s really important that we always rely on Him for things like that and not on ourselves. It gets too easy to glorify ourselves.”
Every small effort counts when serving, Kenedi said, noting that volunteering in the community does not have to be the kind of time-consuming struggle it is often thought to be.
“Truly, volunteer work doesn’t take as much time as you think,” she said. “It takes 30 minutes to go down the street and take your leftover food to the homeless shelter. It takes 15 minutes to go out and buy some canned food and take it to the nearest donation box. You don’t have to do this big extravagant project — it’s the little things that truly matter.”
Kenedi said she has been able to see herself changed through her volunteerism, and that her perspective has genuinely shifted over the past few years.
“Serving my community has made me much more grateful for what I have,” she said. “I’ve helped people that are struggling every day to put food on the table. It’s not to say that, ‘Well, I have more than you, so I should be thankful.’ It’s saying that if they can be thankful for what they have, then that should reflect on me, and I should be thankful for what I have. In the mornings, I don’t question if I’m going to have something to eat, or whether I’ll have clothes to put on, or a ride to school, because that’s what I’ve always had. But, even the kids next door to me, those sitting right beside me, they might not eat breakfast, or they might not have dinner that night. I think it really opened up my eyes to see that each person is different, and that I need to be thankful and grateful for what I have.”
Kenedi believes serving her community through volunteerism has made her more thankful, more positive and more motivated to be a light in her community.
“Whenever something happens in my life and I start to struggle, I always try to continue my service, or do a different project. I think it’s hard to stay upbeat in hard times, but doing service keeps me optimistic and active in my community,” she said. “Volunteering has taught me to say, ‘This is a problem, my community needs me, how can I fix it?’”