Isaiah Rayes of North Las Vegas has long had a passion for helping people, he said. He said he spends his spare time feeding senior citizens, making baskets for the homeless and making people smile any way he can.
He volunteers through Top Teens of America, a youth service group created on behalf of Top Ladies of Distinction, a nonprofit educational humanitarian organization that promotes leadership and and success in youth. Rayes volunteers with the organization’s Starlight chapter in Las Vegas.
“My two older sisters volunteered with the group when they were younger, and it made me want to start,” Rayes said, adding, “I’ve learned a lot through the organization: to speak more, learn what jobs and positions do.”
The intial Top Ladies of Distinction chapter was founded in 1964, according to Carrie Peery, president of the Starlight chapter, which was started in 1994. The group’s purpose is to improve the quality of life in youths and adults, she said. The organization is holding its annual Paint the Town Red luncheon in September. It’s one of its largest fundraisers, she said.
“We started because in this chapter there were some ladies who got together who saw a need to improve the community and engage or youth,” Peery said. “We focus on teens because we’re trying to make a bigger impact on our youth — help them improve life in the future for us.”
Teen volunteers practice leadership and community service through humanitarian efforts that include providing food to senior citizens during Thanksgiving and participating in March of Dimes walks, Peery said.
Nationally, Peery said, Top Ladies of Distinction chapters have partnered with nonprofit organizations that include the NAACP, UNCF, March of Dimes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, AARP and the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.
“We currently have two chapters in Las Vegas; another group was chartered last year,” said Jann Williams Carlisle, vice president of the Starlight chapter. “We ultimately want our teens to learn things they can apply to life — organization, how they can form their own committees. Many of the teens we work with are underserved, but all are in different areas. Sometimes they’re not economically underserved, but they might be underserved in terms of cultural exposure in terms of the opportunities for leadership, travel; this gives them a chance to be exposed to those kind of things.”
If you go
What: Top Ladies of Distinction Paint the Town Red luncheon
When: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 15
Where: Suncoast, 9090 Alta Drive