By Samantha Joseph
MARTIN COUNTY - A leadership seminar inspired 15-year-old Connor Mortell to take the reins on a project that will help dozens this summer.
The teen, who will enter his sophomore year at The Pine School, is part of the Rotary Youth Leadership Assembly, a program that focuses on leadership, good citizenship and personal growth.
He said the group's idea of "service above self" had such a profound influence on him that it led him to organize a food drive that yielded enough for 34 meals.
"I consider it one of the greatest experiences of my life," he said. "I was really inspired."
Along with friend, 15-year-old Jessie Green of Stuart, Connor invited members of the Rotary Youth Leadership Assembly to donate non-perishable items to benefit the Treasure Coast Food Bank, a nonprofit that supplies food to 250 agencies across Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties.
At the end of the food drive, the group collected more than 44 pounds of food.
It was the latest in an already long-line of philanthropic efforts for the area boy, who also volunteers for several causes, including raising money for the American Cancer Society.
"He's a remarkable teenager," said Kim Waser, a local marketer familiar with Connor's projects.
For his part, the teen said he has found volunteer work, such as the food drive, rewarding.
"By participating in projects, such as writing letters to deployed soldiers, (Rotary youth members) learned the importance of putting others above ourselves and to do our best to help our community," he said.