Great Lakes Young Citizen of the Year Ruby Keys, traveled to Sydney last week to continue her work with the homeless, a passion which earned her this year’s honour.
Loaded with bags of food, the Pindimar teenager hit the streets to assist those in need.
Ruby’s work with the homeless began when she was 14, after witnessing the number of people living on Sydney’s streets while attending a school excursion.
“I had never actually seen homelessness before, but in Sydney it’s everywhere,” she said.
“Talking to some of the homeless, I got to know them on a personal level which was very emotional, I just wanted to help.”
Ruby’s determination to assist was evident on her birthday when her only wish was to help the homeless.
“Some friends and I went around door knocking for my birthday to collect donations,” she said.
“People were generous and we were able to pass the donations onto SWAG Ministries.”
Known for her compassion, Ruby has since worked with other organisations including Shine International and Phoenix Rising Foundation where she is highly praised for her efforts.
Despite her inspirational work, Ruby was surprised to be named Young Citizen of the Year. “I wasn’t expecting to win,” she said.
“I didn’t do the work to be acknowledged, I just wanted to help.”
Bulahdelah Central School Deputy Principal Mrs Deb Gilbert, who nominated Ruby for the award, said she was an inspiration to other young people.
“Ruby is very sympathetic to the homeless and is not judgemental of their circumstances,” she said.
“She has a very giving nature and is able to identify a need and work out solutions to fix the issue.”
Many other students of the school have also been successfully nominated for the Young Citizen Award during the past five years.
“It’s been a pleasure to acknowledge and nominate our students for their exceptional work and achievements in our local communities,” Mrs Gilbert said.
Ruby, now in her final year of school, is looking towards a career working with Aid Organisations.
“I don’t want to see people in a position where they have no one to help them,” Ruby said.