Rosedale teen volunteer piles up contest awards

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Ask Rosedale resident Rebecca Mader about the slew of contests she’s won in the past two months, and the 15-year-old just giggles and shrugs.

Mader, a sophomore at Martin Van Buren HS in Bellerose, was honored by Gov. George Pataki for her volunteer work, by VFW Post 5298 in its Voices of Democracy speech-writing contest, and by the Citizen’s Committee for New York City for her craft business.

“I just keep hearing about them and I just keep winning,” she said.

The governor’s award was the first, said Mader, who goes by the nickname Becca. She had been nominated for the governor’s Youth Recognition Award for her volunteer work with the Cornucopia Society, the Rosedale Civic Association, the Pioneer Girls, and Christ Lutheran Church, which she and her family attend, said Delores Mader, Becca’s mother.

The Youth Recognition Awards honor one youth from each of New York’s 62 counties. Winners were given a certificate and a laptop complete with a DVD player and a carrying case, Becca said.

“My son saw that and said, ‘Why didn’t they have contests like this when I was that age?’” said Delores Mader.

A savings bond was the prize for Becca’s winning speech in the Voices of Democracy contest held by VFW Post 5298 in Jamaica. The topic of the speech-writing contest was “America’s Future,” and Becca didn’t want to enter at first.

“I told my mom, ‘I am America’s future. What do they want me to do, write about myself?’” Becca said.

That’s exactly what she did, relying on her volunteer work as an example of what her generation should be doing for the nation. The speech won at the post level, and advanced to the regional level, Delores said, adding that they have not heard about that competition yet.

Becca also won a spot at an exposition of young entrepreneurs through a contest sponsored by the Citizen’s Committee for New York City. The contest awarded Becca’s craft business a $300 prize, and an additional $150 to buy supplies for more crafts for the expo, planned for May 16.

Her business, Becca’s Radical Art Goods, stemmed from her hobby of making crafts, including beaded necklaces, foam magnets, picture frames lined with fake flowers and crosses constructed from rainbow-colored dowels.

“She just started doing that as a hobby,” said Delores Mader. “She started realizing that people really liked her stuff and that they’ll pay money for it.”

Becca sells her wares to her family and neighbors, and at Rosedale Civic Association meetings, she said. Items run from $1 to $8, and she can earn up to $20 at the meetings, she said. Becca donates part of her profit to the World Wildlife Foundation, she said.

In addition to the contests, she was also awarded a certificate of honor from Borough President Helen Marshall, said Delores Mader.

The Maders heard about the contests from people who knew Becca was involved with community, Delores said.

“All these things say, ‘If you know someone who might be interested,’” she said. “She’s so involved in all these organizations, they pick her.”

In addition to selling crafts at the Rosedale Civic Association meetings, Becca also helps with their community cleanups, as well as ones organized through the Cornucopia Society, she said. The groups work on parks and plants flowers and bulbs.

“I even went there when I was on crutches,” Becca added.

Becca also helps out with the Pioneer Girls, a Christian version of the Girl Scouts, and leads the Cherub Choir, a chorus for 4- to 7-year-olds, at Christ Lutheran Church, at 248-03 Francis Lewis Blvd. in Rosedale, she said. Both are good experiences for Becca, who is interested in pursuing teaching, she said.

“By now if she hated kids and didn’t really want to be a teacher, she’d know,” said Delores Mader.

Despite the hectic schedule, Becca enjoys her volunteer work, she said.

“I’ve just been doing it for so long I’m used to it,” she said. “It’s better than doing nothing.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

Updated 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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