Farmington Hills teen hopes her story shows impact one person can have

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published July 22, 2019

 Rosie Burns-Pavlik poses in front of Freedom House Detroit in November 2016. Burns-Pavlik has helped raise thousands of dollars in donations for Freedom House families.

Rosie Burns-Pavlik poses in front of Freedom House Detroit in November 2016. Burns-Pavlik has helped raise thousands of dollars in donations for Freedom House families.

Photo provided by Rosie Burns-Pavlik

 From left, former Freedom House Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Willete, Rosie Burns-Pavlik, and Freedom House CEO Deborah Drennan, pose for a photo with the $3,300 raised for Freedom House through the inaugural Orchestrating for Freedom benefit concert.

From left, former Freedom House Volunteer Coordinator Cheryl Willete, Rosie Burns-Pavlik, and Freedom House CEO Deborah Drennan, pose for a photo with the $3,300 raised for Freedom House through the inaugural Orchestrating for Freedom benefit concert.

Photo provided by Rosie Burns-Pavlik

Advertisement

FARMINGTON HILLS — From the outside, Rosie Burns-Pavlik, a recent graduate of Harrison High School, lives life like many of her peers. She enjoys playing music, was a member of different clubs and extracurriculars at her high school, attended prom and homecoming, and attempts to find a balance between being involved and simply hanging out with family and friends.

The more you get to know her, however, the more you can understand her innate passion for serving her community and giving back to those in need.

“If we had more Rosie’s in the world ...,” said Deborah Drennan, CEO of Freedom House Detroit, where Rosie has volunteered for the last four years. “She is truly a remarkable young woman.”

Burns-Pavlik thought back to some of her earliest memories of community service, reminiscing on the days she spent as a Junior Optimist, being a part of the Green Team helping to clean up her school, and volunteering to collect books for kids in need in Detroit.

Since then, she’s done quite a bit more, and she’s hoping to use all her years of experience to create a ripple effect to show kids younger than her how they can do the same.

“I have learned so much about myself and the world, and how one person can really affect a large amount of people,” she said. “Even being so young, you can achieve so much if you put your mind to it. … Yes, it’s hard work, and it takes time and commitment, but if you’re truly passionate about something, then it’s not hard.”

Burns-Pavlik really started to take charge of her ability to give back after babysitting twin boys of a woman being supported by Freedom House.

Freedom House is a “one-stop shop” for asylum seekers, where they can receive legal aid and a safe place to stay during their asylum case as well as a number of social services — ESL classes, mental house counseling, employment readiness programs and more.

“When I was in ninth grade, me and a couple girls from my Girl Scouts troop would go down every other week and babysit 1-year-old twins while their mom took a class about how to assimilate into Western culture,” Burns-Pavlik said. “I babysat for about two years, and then after that I fell in love with the people there, and I just wanted to help them more.”

One of her International Baccalaureate classes sophomore year instructed her to put together a community impact event. She found that to be the perfect opportunity to give back more to Freedom House while fulfilling her course requirements at the same time.

She fused her passion for playing the cello with the requirements of coordinating a community event to create a benefit concert she called “Orchestrating for Freedom.” The concert started simply as an opportunity to invite her fellow music peers to perform solo — something they didn’t get to do often through school — but was quickly surprised to see over 100 people in attendance, raising $3,300 through the process.

“I was hoping maybe 20 or 30 people would come. I was hoping to raise just a couple hundred dollars, and the fact that I was able to raise $3,300 was absolutely phenomenal,” she said.

With the results far exceeding her expectations, she expanded the concert for a second year, inviting some of her peers from the Detroit Metropolitan Youth Symphony to participate as well. They raised roughly another $2,100 for Freedom House.

Burns-Pavlik, and her parents who own the Sunflour Bakehaus in downtown Farmington, also set up a donation jar at the bakery, which has helped her raise an extra $2,000, along with bringing in donations like hand-me-down clothing and used furniture for the Freedom House families.

Drennan explained that Freedom House relies on both those in-kind and monetary donations, and for Burns-Pavlik to notice those needs and react to them speaks volumes to her “amazing character.”

“There’s a lot of people who want to volunteer for goodness, and yet it helps college applications, it helps employment resumes. Rosie isn’t thinking about any of that. Rosie is thinking about the need, so she stepped up, and people see the genuine heart she has present in everything she does,” Drennan said. “She can persuade anyone to give $10 or give us a box of flip flops. It’s amazing.”

As Burns-Pavlik readies herself to attend the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati in the fall, she’s hoping to still keep Freedom House close to her heart and help out when, and how, she can. She’s also already begun talking with the office of diversity and inclusion at her new university to figure out what other service opportunities may lay ahead.

Most importantly, she hopes her story will inspire others to “just find something you’re passionate about and pursue it.”

Advertisement