Q&A With Microgrant Recipient Larisa


Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youth 18 years of age & younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. In a local park, microgrant recipient Larisa (16) from PA implemented a storywalk, a series of wooden signs installed along a park trail, each sign displaying a page of an illustrated children’s book. Preschool to elementary school aged children-who naturally want to move around a lot–read the signs as they move along the trail. Larisa’s project combined two concepts she loves: the outdoors & books!

Q. What inspired you to start this project?

A. My local park has been the site of many a Girl Scout event and program. I wanted to do something that would benefit them and thank them for letting us hold so many events there. I chose to build a Storywalk when I came across the idea online, and I thought it was an amazing combination of books and the outdoors: two of my favorite things! I wanted to do something that would benefit the park and the people who went there, and the Storywalk seemed like a perfect solution.

Q. While working on your project, what surprised you?

A. I hadn’t realized how much work it would take to design and make the spreads containing book pages to be displayed in the signs. It took much longer than I thought it would, especially since I hadn’t factored in the necessity of lamination to keep rain from damaging them. I also ran into difficulty when digging the holes for the signposts: the first few went fine, but then the ground started getting gravelly and we ran into more rocks. Luckily, we had the tools we needed to keep going, but it was definitely an unwelcome surprise.

Q. What do you feel you learned from this experience?

A. I learned that even if something seems overwhelming, like having to make an entirely new plan for my project after getting delayed by Covid-19, it helps to take it step by step. If you know what has to get done, and what time you have to do it in, having it all written down makes it seem much more manageable. I also learned that it doesn’t help a problem to keep going when what you’re doing obviously isn’t working — e.g., trying to bludgeon the rocks in the holes with a post hole digger. Bring in different tools or a new perspective and everything will look much more optimistic.

Q. How did Karma for Cara impact your project?

A. Karma for Cara really helped me get started—I had been delayed for a year by Covid-19, and I was getting discouraged because at that point I had no idea how to pick the project back up. When I came across the Karma for Cara grant, I thought it might be the thing that could kickstart me back into action. I pulled together a new project plan and applied, and with the grant I was able to purchase the supplies I needed and finally start working on my project.

Q. How will your project continue to impact others?

A. I made up three extra books, ready to be placed in the signboards, and gave them to the Parks and Rec board of the park. The board will continue switching out the books so that people who come back to the park every season will have a new book to read. Kids will be able to enjoy the Storywalk again with something fresh even after my involvement is over.

Q. How many hours did you spend on your project?

A. 109

Q. How many youth volunteers or students were involved in your project?

A. 5

Q. How many total hours did other youth volunteers or students spend on your project?

A. 16