Name: Meredith Ruggiero
Age: 16, Sophomore
School: Daniel Hand High School
Accomplishments: Every Saturday for the two years Meredith Ruggiero has volunteered at High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Inc., working with children and adults with physical, emotional and developmental disabilities. She works with many different people, but she has found a special connection with Hamden High School Junior, Amanda Aceto. By the time Amanda arrives at High Hopes for her weekly riding lesson Meredith has already tacked up their special Quarter horse Gelding, Codie, and prepared him for Amanda’s riding.
While Meredith works with many different horses and riders, she has a very special relationship with Amanda. “It was just by chance that we got put together and we were working on the same horse. I lead and she rides,” says Ruggiero. “Over time, since it is every Saturday, we just got really close and we talk all the time.”
“Amanda and Meredith have become good friends; they text each other on a regular basis and make plans to get together socially outside of High Hopes like going to the movies, just hanging out, and making cookies for the holidays,” says Amanda’s mother Leslie Aceto. “Their friendship is very special to Amanda.”
Key to Awesomeness: Meredith has been consistent about her commitment to her volunteer work.
“My mom mentioned it to me one time when I was 13 and I looked on the website immediately because I love horses, I love kids. I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is a perfect fit for me!’ The day I turned 14 I signed up. I was looking forward to it for so long.”
“I love it. I don’t know what else to say about it. I love going and I get upset when I can’t go!”
Meredith and Amanda have found other areas of interest, in addition to horses. Meredith says she keeps her company, in addition to encouraging her to do her best on Codie. “We talk about random stuff. We always find ourselves talking about the Jonas Brothers. We sing sometimes!” says Meredith.
This volunteering may have opened up a new future for Meredith.
“I love it, I don’t know how I would be able to give it up,” she says. “I never really thought about it before I got there. “
Yet now that she is involved she has realized, “I love helping. So, yes, definitely I see myself doing something with this in the future!”