Once a year, Florida’s Hometown USA Program Inc. selects only five students of all levels of education to represent their hometowns in a program dedicated to fostering care, volunteerism, leadership, and community pride. Nine-year-old Kullen McKenna, a third grade student at NorthLake Park Community School, was chosen to join the program as an Orlando representative for the 2021 program.
Kullen and her parents, Jennifer and Ken, are residents of Lake Nona and are extremely proud to honor our hometown through her volunteer work. She is a fiery force of nature: This young girl is a competitive baton twirler, a karate queen, a leader, and the pioneer behind Kullen’s Crayon Collection, a project that repurposes old crayons – winning the Disney Dreamer and Doer award as a result. She’s also won the Orange County Drug Free Essay Contest. Kullen was selected for the exclusive opportunity as a result of her selfless spirit and readiness to help her community.
Florida’s Hometown USA Program Inc. is a nonprofit organization for the young population of Florida. They aim to educate, inspire, and nurture the giving nature of youth and encourage community service. Partnered with nearly 30 different Floridian organizations, the students have a wide variety of volunteering opportunities.
Through the nonprofit, the five students picked are given the chance to visit children’s hospitals, nursing homes, charity functions, veteran’s hospitals, and other events and activities. The students will learn the importance of giving back and taking care of one another.
“It is our belief that if children are involved in volunteering at an early age and are taught to show love and concern for others,” said Linda Watts of Florida’s Hometown USA Program Inc., “it will stay with them forever.”
The nonprofit itself is a decorated entity, recognized through awards like the Governor’s Points of Light Award, the National President’s Daily Points of Light Award, Disney’s Helping Kids Shine Award, and Disney’s VoluntEAR of the Year.
Kullen McKenna and four other students from Florida will represent their hometowns and make us proud. She is one of many caring and generous souls we are lucky to have in Lake Nona. Our community and state will benefit from a culture that promotes volunteerism and being there for one another at all ages and stages of life; it supports youth in their ability to love and have empathy and concern toward other people, no matter their condition.
Photos Courtesy of Jennifer Pitts