Gabrielle Kostecki learned firsthand what it means to be a true superhero in her community. When she and her family spent the Thanksgiving holiday visiting a hospitalized friend, a group of volunteers surprised the family with a home-cooked feast.

While some superheroes rescue people from a burning building, she learned that others lay out checkered tablecloths and cover them with homemade pies and all the other trimmings of a traditional holiday meal. She realized that we can each channel our inner superhero by “deliberately investing time to leave a mark in others’ lives.”

These are some of Gabrielle’s words from her winning essay response for our 2020 Community Hero Scholarship. The scholarship committee at D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ was moved by Gabrielle’s essay, which they felt embodied the gratitude and generosity the firm wants to nurture with this annual $1,500 scholarship.

Inspired to pay it forward

Today, Gabrielle leads the Junior Council at Texas Children’s Hospital—the same hospital where she experienced that inspirational Thanksgiving meal. She uses this role to combine her passions for children and art to offer hospital patients something unique—she planned 10 holiday parties for patients throughout the hospital.

“Beyond the bright decorations, there was something more, something meaningful, about bringing ‘home’ to the hospital patients to temporarily forget the chaos of their situations,” Gabrielle explains in her essay. “My involvement with planning these events brought joy to countless children, which was perhaps the greatest impact they needed during their moments of suffering.”

Making her mark at school

Gabrielle also dons her superhero cape in her local school community. She launched an art-mentoring program for elementary students, tutors students who struggle with math, and works as a Student Ambassador to welcome new families to the school.

Sewing her way into the hearts of patients and hospital workers

The COVID-19 pandemic gave Gabrielle another opportunity to shine. She began sewing face masks for Texas healthcare workers. Over time, the teen began to solicit fabric donations and create pre-cut face mask sewing kits.

She produced a YouTube tutorial that landed more than 13,000 views and assembled a sewing team to ramp up production. By the end of their efforts, more than 15 local healthcare facilities received their share of more than 2,500 face masks. You can see the tutorial and read more about this project at Graced Ministry.

Gabrielle managed to fill a medical need while she touched human hearts. “What touched me the most was the faces of those who received the reusable masks,” she writes.

This compassionate, inspired, and resourceful teen hopes to become a doctor and help end the opioid crisis. Her giving spirit will persist through college, where she plans to tutor underprivileged students and launch a nonprofit that teaches patients how to sew.

A hearty congratulations to a true superhero

Please join us in congratulating Gabrielle on winning the D. Miller & Associates, PLLC Community Hero Scholarship. We are pleased to award her $1,500 to put toward her vision. We were delighted to surprise Gabrielle with the news of her accomplishment at the end of a video interview with the teen, which you can watch on our Facebook page or in the video above.

The window remains open for students to apply for the 2021 D. Miller & Associates, PLLC Community Hero Scholarship. Students who qualify have until June 15, 2021, to submit their applications and essays. You can read about upcoming scholarship opportunities, deadlines, and essay topics on the D. Miller & Associates, PLLC™ website.