Brooke Yellin, a junior at Long Beach High School, combines her mother’s philanthropic spirit with her own intuition to give back to high school students who have overcome adversity and value education.
Yellin launched the Geri E. Yellin Scholarship Foundation — named after her mother — in March last year after her mother died the month prior, and has since raised more than $3,000. Yellin carries on her mother’s legacy by volunteering with students who have developmental disabilities and hosting presentations in ninth-grade health classes. She’s active in her school — playing on the soccer team and managing the cheerleading team. She also frequently assists with after-school sports activities for students with developmental disabilities.
“Our education is so valuable and there’s no reason for any of us to not be taking advantage of it,” Yellin said.
Yellin will be awarding the chosen senior at the Senior Scholarship Ceremony with $500 on May 30 — her birthday.
Although Yellin’s mother was not expected to live past two weeks after her birth due to a lack of oxygen going to her brain, she went on to live a full life and started a family with Yellin’s father, Ian. Geri Yellin was diagnosed with dyslexia at a young age but attended college and persevered throughout her academic career regardless. Throughout her life, she volunteered with child day cares and nursing homes.
“My mom was so determined and willing,” Yellin said. “She knew the one thing she needed to finish was school, so this award is for someone who has faced obstacles and persevered. There are so many who go through the worst and can come out the best.”
In order to raise funds for the scholarship, Yellin has sold bracelets, lanyards and silicone phone wallets. She explained that she purchased these items in bulk at a low price and sold them for a higher price to increase the margin of her sales. This way, she increased her gross profit margin, the amount of money generated minus the cost of products sold.
Blake Malizia, a business teacher who has helped Yellin launch her fundraising efforts, teaches this strategy in classes at the high school. Malizia said that she has been successful in employing effective marketing strategies for a good cause.
“Brooke took a product that she knew everyone would want,” Malizia said. “She had a table where she was selling [products] before and after school.”
Malizia also told the Herald that Yellin is an open-minded, intelligent and hard-working individual. Comments made by Long Beach community members on Yellin’s GoFundMe page also reflect her altruistic personality.
Vice Principal Dr. Francine Newman echoed the sentiments.
“Brooke is a quiet leader,” Newman said. “She follows her own lead and sets a great example for others.”
Yellin told the Herald what one must do to be awarded the scholarship.
“Someone who doesn’t use the cards they’ve been dealt as an excuse,” Yellin said. “It’s someone who takes their obstacles, realizes what they’ve been dealt and still works hard every day.”
Yellin is looking to pursue a career as an adaptive physical education teacher and has plans to expand to other school districts in the coming years to further honor her mother’s memory. To donate to the Geri E. Yellin Scholarship Foundation, visit the GoFundMe page.
“I think working on this has made me realize that life is super short, and things happen unexpectedly,” Yellin said. “You have to take the bad and make it good [because] you don’t get a lot of time to figure out how to make it good.”