A Legacy of Love, Giving & Service
Story by Katrice Williams | Photography by Leidi Lester
Brooklyn Howells is a sophomore at Islands High School (IHS) after being selected to join the school’s veterinary (vet) program. She has adored animals as long as she can remember.
“I’ve wanted to be a veterinarian since I was four years old,” she says.
Brooklyn’s favorite animal of all is her 12-year-old German shepherd who she lovingly named Polish. Polish has been a real inspiration in Brooklyn’s life for a long time.
Brooklyn even began a new business in recognition of Polish, naming her brand Polish’s Pail on behalf of her lovable pooch. Under the brand, Brooklyn plans to kick off her new pet-sitting business, where she aspires to do a lot of good for a lot of fur babies. She is looking forward to formally announcing that big news during her upcoming Sweet 16th Birthday Celebration. Brooklyn is confident that Polish’s Pail can be a viable forerunner to her veterinary clinic, which she plans to open after attaining her degree in veterinary science.
A Heart to Give
Like many young ladies, Brooklyn has been looking forward to her 16th birthday for quite some time. However, she is not anxious about the notoriety or glamorous gifts that often come with it; instead, she is excited to be the one who will be doing the gifting.
“Giving back is one of my favorite things to do for my birthday. Yes, the party, the glitz and the glam is fun, but I can truly say that I enjoy giving back,” she asserts.
Brooklyn’s 16th birthday celebration will continue the beautiful legacy of giving that she began years ago. Instead of receiving personal or monetary gifts for her big day, the future veterinarian is asking all family, friends and attendees to donate gifts or treats to the Humane Society for Greater Savannah (HSGS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that “aims to rescue animals, provide animal healthcare services and perform public advocacy to combat animal cruelty.”
“I’ve always wanted to give back to what I love, and I felt the need to help the Humane Society,” she says.
HSGS has been near and dear to Brooklyn’s heart for a long time. She appreciates the difference the organization makes in the lives of so many animals. At age ten, she began participating in “therapeutic reading sessions to dogs” through the organization’s Nuzzle Buddies Program.
“I’m not going to stop giving just because it’s my Sweet 16; those dogs there still want food and treats, so I can’t let them down. I believe it’s going to be a great way to enter into my 16th year,” she says.
What is more, at only six years old, Brooklyn began helping and supporting various animal and marine life organizations, including: One Love, Coastal Pet Rescue, Second Chance and Tybee Clean Beach. The then committed kindergartner took donation boxes to her elementary school in order to collect animal treats from all students who wanted to give; in turn, the principal awarded a dress-down pass to each student who supported the initiative. Brooklyn has maintained that same giving heart throughout the years.
Future Vet in the Making
This year, Brooklyn enlisted the support of her school once more. IHS Principal Derrick Butler will allow information about the cause to be placed in the school newspaper, encouraging the donation of treats and toys for HSGS on Brooklyn’s behalf. Brooklyn is thankful for her school’s support. She feels privileged to be a part of such a great vet program.
“It is the only school in Chatham County that offers a veterinary program, so it was the perfect fit for me. It’s a great experience if you truly want to be a vet,” she says.
Brooklyn appreciates the hands-on experience the program offers. She loves the opportunity to care for all the animals.
“You learn how to take care of them. You learn their personalities and how to treat them differently based on their personalities. That’s a big part of being a vet,” she adds. Brooklyn is a member of the school’s vet science team that competes with other high school vet programs across the state.
Young Community Leader
On September 9, Brooklyn was sworn in to serve on the Chatham County Youth Commission (CCYC), an honor awarded to her by Savannah Mayor Van Johnson. Members are high-achieving high school students who represent various public and private high schools across Chatham County.
Following an academic evaluation by her school, which included a grade review, essay submission and personal interview, Brooklyn was one of two students selected from IHS as a candidate for the CCYC.
Upon selection for candidacy, there was an extensive CCYC finalist evaluation process that lasted throughout the summer; it included candidates learning and recalling Savannah historical information and community-oriented data, as well as giving in-person presentations to Mayor Johnson, all while consistently exemplifying how each would add value to the commission in order to benefit the community.
Members are able to express an array of concerns to the mayor and area officials on behalf of Chatham County’s younger residents.
“The Chatham County Youth Commission challenges me and it allows me to meet new people from different schools. We are like a family. We’re working for a better community. We’re vocalizing our views for a positive future. We’re able to tell our chairman what we’d like to see for the youth,” she says.
The CCYC takes part in various community programs and initiatives. In fact, they participated in “Peace in the Park” at Daffin Park on September 25 in support of “everyone’s right for life, freedom and the pursuit of peace.” The event stemmed from the annual International Day of Peace. Brooklyn, alongside other CCYC members, mentored small kids from the local area, helping them with various arts and crafts.
The stellar student was recently nominated for the Governor’s Honors Program (GHP), “a residential summer program for gifted and talented high school students,” those who are rising juniors or seniors.
Moreover, Brooklyn has been playing the trombone since fifth grade, and she is currently one of two underclassmen in the IHS Mastery Band; she is also a member of the IHS Jazz Band. She, too, plays flag football, basketball and soccer.
Brooklyn is truly grateful for her two biggest role models and inspirations: her mom Rowena and her dad Shune.
“I’ve seen them working so hard over the years to support me to allow me to have a good life. It makes me want to work even harder,” she says.
They are both thankful for the thoughtful young lady they see blossoming right before their eyes.
“I’m proud of how she is allowing her light to be used as a child of God,” Rowena says.
Supporting the Humane Society
Brooklyn encourages anyone who would like to support a worthwhile cause to donate to the Humane Society for Greater Savannah: www.humanesocietysav.org.