The presentation of the Youth Leadership Philanthropy Award by the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation to Princeton Carter stemmed from his encounter with a homeless veteran.
For years, the Isidore Newman School sophomore has journeyed twice a day under the Claiborne Avenue underpass on his way to and from Isidore Newman School. While doing so he witnesses an all-too-familiar sight: the homeless.
Like many, Carter has been affected by their plight.
“Every day we’d pass by them, and I would see all the signs they were holding up and it would tear me up inside,” he said. “But I always just pushed it off.”
That is until one fall day in 2012.
“I saw this veteran and he was holding an ID card along with his sign.” Carter said. “The card identified him as a soldier. I knew right then that I had to do something.”
Since it was right before Thanksgiving, Carter had an idea to ask people in his school to donate Rouse’s gift cards to homeless veterans.
“I got a bunch of friends to hand out fliers in the carpool lane at my school asking people to call or go to a Rouse’s and purchase them,” he said.
In three weeks Carter had collected $5,000 in gift cards, which he turned over to Volunteers of America. The organization then distributed them through their Supportive Services for Veterans Families program, one of three programs they run that benefit veterans in southeast Louisiana.
Caitlin Scanlan, development manager for VOA, says it was evident from the start that Carter was different.
“Princeton has this unquenchable desire to not only really get involved and help people, but encourage others to join with him,” she said.
The VOA isn’t the only organization that has taken notice of Carter’s talents.
Carter was recently presented the Youth Leadership Philanthropy Award by the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation during its annual Taylor Scholars Awards Program.
A legacy created by former oilman Patrick Taylor and his wife, Phyllis, the Taylor Foundation is the force behind the popular Taylor Opportunity Program for Students, or TOPS Program, which rewards Louisiana students who make good grades with memberships to the Audubon Zoo, Insectarium and Aquarium, as well as the New Orleans Museum of Art. This year Louisiana had more than 175,000 TOPS Scholars.
During the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the program, Mrs. Taylor drew special attention to Carter.
“Princeton epitomizes what we hope to inspire in all the young people of Louisiana,” she said. “Find your vision and go after it.”
Carter has done just that. Just a few months after the gift card drive, he was on the move again, this time organizing a clothing drive for Covenant House, a nonprofit that serves homeless ages 16 to 21.
“We collected items like suits, and nice shoes in bins around Newman for about two weeks,” Carter said. “Basically things you could use to go to job interviews.”
Just a few months after that, he collected more than 700 toys and books for battered women and children — all under the umbrella of a nonprofit Carter formed called My Brother’s Keeper Newman.
Outside of his own organization, Carter has further partnered with the VOA in helping to develop their Youth Leadership Council. Consisting of philanthropic students from around the city, the council held its first event in March, an afternoon Bingo game at the VOA’s 200-unit affordable housing project for seniors called The Terraces on Tulane.
The entire event was organized and carried out by council members, and included both food and live music courtesy of the Isidore Newman Jazz Band.
“It was a huge hit,” Scanlan said. “Even one of our 93-year-old residents was out there shaking her hips.”
As Carter struggles to balance his academics, sports — he is a high-ranking state tennis player — and a social life, he says that the addition of all of this philanthropy has definitely taught him time management. It is a skill he hopes will serve him well as he aims toward a career as a surgeon.
But no matter where he ends up or how busy life gets, he says one thing won’t change.
“Wherever I go,” he said, “I’m going to carry this work with me.”
For more information on My Brother’s Keeper Newman, visit www.mybrotherskeepernewman.org.
For more information on the VOA Youth Leadership Council, contact Caitlin Scanlan at (504) 482-2130.