Riley: Sharing Her Talents Through Giving

When Riley started her 5th grade year, she suffered the loss of her grandfather. The unconditional support from her CIS site coordinator, Lisa Shepperley helped Riley stay on track and inspired her to use her creativity to impact others in a meaningful way.

In popular culture, the term “triple threat” refers to skilled entertainers that perform many different talents. At 14 years old, Riley knows exactly what it means to be a triple threat- cooking, creating artistic crafts, and fundraising are shining areas that make her a rockstar student at CIS Mancelona High School.

Even with Riley’s amazing skills, she needed someone to lean on during her struggle with grief and loss after her grandfather passed away. Riley got connected to CIS through Lisa Shepperley, her close mentor and confidant, who would support Riley every step of the way. Ms. Shepperley helped Riley through “stolen moments”, short periods within the school day where she would give positive talks and emotional support in the hallway, during recess and even during reading interventions.

Riley and Ms. Shepperley continued to share a light-hearted bond with each other. One of their many fun memories together include a moment where Ms. Shepperley wore Riley’s sunglasses and posed for a picture – this picture was submitted to her local county fair where Riley won 2nd place for the Showmanship photo competition. From this positive relationship of a caring adult, Riley blossom into an upbeat, outgoing and creative individual.

Riley’s talent in cooking was inspired by a CIS afterschool culinary program led by Ms. Shepperley. The program taught important values of budgeting, managing responsibilities, lessons on respecting differences, building relationships and using social media to share student recipes. Through this program, Riley learned how to prepare various foods, manage multiple tasks and establish new friendships. Ms. Shepperley’s “key ingredients to success” are participation, commitment, and being yourself, all areas that Riley has achieved.

Most recently, Riley has developed a humanitarian heart. Her 7-year old cousin is fighting Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma or DIPG, known to be the worst form of brain cancer with a zero percent survival rate. DIPG is an extremely rare, incurable disease located in the middle of the brain stem that makes nervous system functioning impossible. To help fight this disease, Riley and her family coordinated a spaghetti dinner of 1000 attendees that raised over $2,700 to a DIPG fund for her cousin. Riley also donated her prize money from the photo competition to this fund.

In this same spirit, Riley hopes to do a canned food drive at her school with the support of Ms. Shepperley and CIS. To Riley, a life without CIS “wouldn’t be as fun.”