At 13, she’s a nationally-recognized volunteer who seeks to inspire others through service

Updated: Dec. 22, 2020 at 3:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Thirteen-year-old Rylee Brooke Kamahele wants to help other young people realize their own potential through volunteering.

Her own volunteer work has now earned her national recognition.

“Volunteering, I feel, has always had a place in my heart,” she said.

Rylee got involved with community service when she was just 8 years old, helping her parents with a program for at-risk youth.

“My parents both were ministry leaders and they did a lot of community work when I was younger. So I kind of grew up around it,” she said.

Through her own volunteer organization called “Love is a Verb,” Rylee mobilizes other kids for beach cleanups, animal rescues, and Thanksgiving meal distributions.

“My husband and I are just so grateful, and we’re extremely proud,” said her mother, Sasha. “We’re just in awe of what she does.”

Every year, Rylee spearheads a Secret Santa project for homeless kids and youth in outreach programs.

“What we do is we go into the shelters and provide an all-around Christmas experience,” she said.

“We give them gingerbread houses, arts and crafts. We bring in shave ice trucks. And every year we do, I think, 600 kids.”

Rylee is homeschooled. Even her subject lessons center on community service.

“She writes bills and she puts those in, or she’ll write a program, or she’ll work on getting funding for something,” Sasha said.

The Prudential Spirit Community Awards program named Rylee one of the nation’s top youth volunteers for 2020. The program is America’s largest recognition program for youth volunteers.

“I am so grateful to be honored for this,” Rylee said.

Prudential also honored Joie Agoo, 18, of Mililani for her work with other youth at the Mililani YMCA.

They run a “Houseless Project” that provides sack lunches for people living in homeless camps in Central Oahu. Dyson Chee, 17, and Yucheng Wu, 17, were also recognized for their volunteer work.

Rylee wants to inspire other young people to help others.

“Find something that you absolutely love doing and pursue that,” she said.

She is working on turning her charitable organization, called The Catalyst Club, into a non-profit to take on more community service projects.

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