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Belen student honored by United Way

Founded AVUS Connect to ease isolation among older adults

Shawn Martinez is shown here with United Way board member Ana VeigaMilton and State Sen. Rene Garcia after the awards presentation, June 21, 2022 in Miami.

Photographer: COURTESY

Shawn Martinez is shown here with United Way board member Ana VeigaMilton and State Sen. Rene Garcia after the awards presentation, June 21, 2022 in Miami.

MIAMI | Shawn Martinez, a rising senior at Belen Jesuit Prep, has been named as the 2022 Outstanding Youth by the United Way of Miami. The award was presented June 21, 2022 at the United Way Miami’s annual meeting and volunteer awards.

Shawn is a student-athlete, class of 2023, at Belen. When not in a pool training or competing as a member of the Belen water polo team, he is dedicated to carrying a rigorous curriculum and maintaining a weighted GPA of 5.21.

However, his most fulfilling activity is AVUS Connect, an intergenerational volunteer platform addressing isolation and loneliness in older adults. He founded AVUS, which means “grandfather” in Latin, as a call to action to address isolation through a Senior Reassurance Program where he secured a corporate sponsorship with the not-for-profit, United HomeCare.

As the founder, Shawn was tasked to create the AVUS Connect Program website for volunteer recruitment, enrollment, and activity management. He also grew the program beyond the hallways of Belen Jesuit with the addition of the program in other area schools, including Doral Academy, Christopher Columbus High, Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, and American Heritage High.

Shawn was a panelist and presenter at the 2021 Florida Conference on Aging, leading a workshop called “Youth Volunteers Busting Senior Isolation.”

Through the AVUS volunteer platform, a total of 7,290 hurricane preparedness meal kits donated by FPL/NextEra and FCOA were delivered in over 10 underserved communities throughout Miami Dade County.

Shawn is a Fellow of the United Way Youth Institute (2021â€22) and was chosen as a Bank of America Student Leader representing South Florida as a paid Summer Intern at the YMCA in Allapattah. He is a student member of Florida Council on Aging, Mu Alpha Theta (Math Honor Society), Science National Honor Society, National Hispanic Recognition Program, Key Club, and athletic member of The Miami White.

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