By: Sharon Aron Baron
A Parkland resident whose passion is helping people received the President’s Volunteer Service Award, or PVSA, for donating over 500 hours of her time last year.
Moya McFarlane volunteers for various organizations in the community, but her favorite volunteer activities are the ones that empower young people through education, such as online reading with first-graders along with STEM and Junior Achievement events.
Through Royal Palm Christian Church, Joshua’s Heart, United Community Options, Honor Flight, Innovations for Learning (TutorMate), the AT&T Aspire Academy, and several AT&T employee resource groups, including Women of AT&T, AT&T Pioneers, The NETwork and more, Maya helps feed the homeless, provides community integration programs for special needs children, raises funds to send veterans to Washington, D.C., works on community beautification projects, teaches young children to read and embrace STEM education.
Moya said she’s been volunteering since she was a child in Jamaica.
“I cannot remember a time that I was not volunteering,” she said. “It probably started when, as a child, I had to give blood because there was a traffic accident involving a bus [full] of children, and there was a need for blood. My mom took me to donate. Even then, it felt so good to do something positive, that it sparked something in me to continue.”
Moya said that for the past four years, she has volunteered with Innovations for Learning helping others with online tutoring by reading with those who need some help in reaching their expected reading levels.
Each year, she has been able to see the progress of these children. They start out timid and afraid of reading out loud, because they lack confidence in their reading abilities. By the end of the school year, when they get to meet the students, they are beaming with accomplishment, and reading fluently and with confidence.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world knowing that you have helped a child with a skill they will use to achieve all of their dreams,” she said.
Besides volunteering, Moya works at AT&T in Sunrise as an attendance analyst for their client solutions and sales operations, where nationwide, AT&T employees have volunteered more than 1.78 million hours of time in community outreach activities during 2017.
She has two children who graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas. Her daughter Monet is now a sophomore at Pace University in New York, and her son Barrington, is a freshman at Florida State University.
In addition to a congratulatory letter from the president of the United States, she will receive a personalized certificate and an official pin, medallion or coin. Moya’s no stranger to the award, as this will be her fifth year to win the PVSA.
“I volunteer because I was always taught that it’s our responsibility to support our communities locally, nationally and internationally wherever there is a need. It’s each person’s responsibility to make our world better by doing small acts of kindness.”