My journey came to a crossroads when I was 15 years old,” wrote Alexis Werner in her Spirit of Anne Frank Scholarship Award application. It was then that her step-father came home from his third duty in Afghanistan.“It was so scary to see such a physically strong man deteriorating mentally.”
Alexis decided something had to be done.Actually, three things.With a mission to end mental illness and poverty among veterans, she first established Victory Gardens, an organization that sponsors gardens throughout her native Pittsburgh.The produce— over 1,000 pounds since 2011- is donated to veteran organizations. Her second project was helping write a children’s book, Seeds of Hope:The Beginning, which highlights community service, healthy eating, and veteran appreciation. Finally, she participated in a student- made documentary, Our Way Home, which follows the stories of veterans from World War II to today, with a focus on PTSD.
“My path incorporates giving justice, service, and love to the community and, one day, the world,” she wrote, paraphrasing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her next step to making this happen begins this fall, when she will attend Temple University in Philadelphia.