By Mike D’Abate

While Rhode Island might be the smallest in the U.S., its heart is second to none when it comes to benevolence. So many of us in our home State’s close-knit communities are taught the value of sharing and giving, from a young age. For most, it takes some time to fully grasp the concept of this most valuable lesson. For 13-year-old Ava Giorgi of Smithfield, it is one that she has already mastered.

Whether it be from the example set by her family, the values she learns in school, or experiencing the power of teamwork by playing youth sports, Ava exudes a maturity beyond her years. Her actions are truly the product of a kind heart. She has an intrinsic and giving nature that is evident in all that she does. Something as simple as holding the door open, or sitting with a lonely schoolmate at lunch is an act of kindness that comes so natural to her. Her example proves that such individual acts of kindness can positively change numerous lives…including those of her four-legged friends.

Recently, Ava set out to raise funds to provide for the care of recently-rescued dogs, in need of medical and hygienic assistance. After raising more than $200 on her own, she contacted Jules Martins and Christine Nichols, owners of Village Paws in Greenville. The owners of the pet grooming salon were deeply touched by the gesture. They explained that her fundraising efforts would be able to benefit a Shepherd named Callie. Due to a long period of neglect, Callie had become emaciated, flea-infested and suffered numerous vision problems. Past attempts at finding her a good home had previously proved to be logistically problematic. However, Callie had just recently been adopted by another Village Paws client named Cheryl and her loving family. Ava’s generous donation has allowed Callie to live a more comfortable and healthy life, as she settles into her new surroundings. Village Paws was able to treat her flea infestation, and a local veterinarian is treating her health issues. In a greater, and even more heartwarming twist, the family that has adopted Callie are also the proud owners of her sister Betty (a black, border collie cross). Through Ava’s selfless act, Callie is on the road to better health, and feeling the love from her new family, alongside a reunion with her canine sister.

Despite the success she has displayed in using teamwork to help others, Ava Giorgi has only just begun her mission of philanthropy. She plans on raising additional funds this summer (hopefully surpassing her original goal) to help pets that are in need of loving care. It is certainly this quality that makes her parents, her friends, her teachers and anyone possessing the privilege of knowing her, most proud.

However, Ava will be the first to admit that she is just following the example in her heart. When asked about how helping pets has made her feel, she said:

“I hope my story is able to inspire others to get out there and do what they can to give back and be kind. In the end, one kind gesture goes a long way. One smile, or belly rub can change a person or an animal’s day. Making a difference and knowing you change someone’s life is the best reward of all and I cannot wait for what’s next!!”

Neither can we, Ava. Thank you for being an amazing example for each of us.