Cranbrook, Marian teens honored as Volunteers of the Year

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published September 13, 2016

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BLOOMFIELD HILLS — Two teens who wanted to do some good in their community have been honored by Gov. Rick Snyder as Youth Volunteers of the Year.

They are 17-year-old Eliana Margherio and 16-year-old Emily Prokop, friends who attend Cranbrook-Kingswood High School and Marian High School, respectively. In 2014, the pair started a nonprofit called Trends for Teens, which aims to help motivate low-income teens in achieving life goals.

“Eliana and I kept hearing about charities for children and adults, but there was a gap there for teenagers,” explained Prokop. “Also, teens often have trouble setting goals for themselves, and this was an opportunity to help them make progress in their lives.”

The program encourages young people to learn goal-setting skills by rewarding them with what the organization calls a “shopper’s incentive program.” Margherio and Prokop say this builds self-esteem and perseverance, and teaches them self-efficacy.

“We set up stores full of new or gently used clothes at schools or homeless shelters,” said Prokop. “Those taking part have to set goals and have them overseen by someone, like a teacher, and they get points upon achieving those goals, and the points can be redeemed at our stores. All the goals they set fall into one of five categories we call ‘the five A’s.’ They are athletics, academics, attendance, acts of kindness and actively participating in the community.”

“I interned at my aunt’s nonprofit in Boston, and it helps little kids. I started talking about it with Emily, and we wanted to do something that would help older kids,” explained Margherio. “Our original idea was just to offer clothes to teens in need, but one of the teens we were talking to had the idea of setting up goals as a motivating system, because teens don’t like handouts.”

The duo was honored at a ceremony Aug. 30 at the Temple Theatre in Saginaw. Snyder said during his speech that Margherio and Prokop are among the best Michigan has to offer and should inspire other residents to help their fellow citizens.

There are currently three Trends for Teens stores open in the Detroit area: at the International Technology Academy in Pontiac, at Wilson Middle School in Wyandotte and at the Coalition on Temporary Shelter homeless shelter in Detroit. They are looking to open more stores in the near future, though.

“We are currently hoping to expand to more homeless shelters and schools,” remarked Prokop.

Trends for Teens is always looking for more new or gently used clothing or monetary donations to help with its goals. The group also welcomes those who wish to volunteer in its stores. Those looking for more information can email trendsforteensinfo@gmail.com.

“I think we’ve been super successful, and everyone we’ve been talking to has said the program has gone over really well, and they’ve had a lot of people take part,” said Margherio. “Getting this award was a really great honor, and it’s nice to be recognized for all of the work we put into it.”

Prokop agreed.

“Eliana and I were both very excited to receive this award and meet Governor Snyder,” said Prokop. “This has been such a great experience.”

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