LIHUE — When 2014 Kapaa High School graduate Cassidy Yatsko arrived at Boise State University, she knew she wanted to help people in her new community. But she realized she could help save people across the world after joining ONE during her freshman year.
“They help people in poverty and we help people in our community with that,” she said. “It was ONE that stuck out to me.”
A bipartisan, nonprofit organization with over 6 million members, ONE works to end poverty and preventable diseases in countries in Africa.
Yatsko and student Patrick Gartside flew to Washington D.C. Feb. 27 and represented Hawaii when they lobbied for ONE and the organization’s “Electrify Africa Act,” a project designed to provide the continent’s sub-Sahara region with electricity. They spoke about the benefits of Electrify Africa to the House of Representatives and also met with Sen. Mazie Hirono and the representatives for Hawaii Sens. Tulsi Gabbard and Brian Schatz.
“As a world we should be able to come together and help people in extreme poverty,” Yatsko said in an interview. “There shouldn’t be poverty in general at all, but we can’t just say ‘come on, we need world peace’ and it’s going to start tomorrow, we need to start somewhere.”
ONE is also trying to train individuals living in the continent to work in energy companies.
“It’s really a bill that should have been passed already. It was passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate,” Yatsko said. “There’s a bunch of places in Africa where they don’t have energy. They’re studying in the dark and hurting their eyes. There are woman giving birth in dark rooms. These are things we take for granted in America and they really need it.”
Yatsko’s father, Jack Yatsko, couldn’t be happier with his daughter’s accomplishments.
In addition to being a part of the ONE program, Cassidy has volunteered for numerous activities while living on Kauai. She’s organized dodgeball and movie nights for the All Saints Church in Kapaa, preformed beach cleanups with organizations like the Sierra Club, and has volunteered at the Friendship House.
She’s even added dog sitter to her volunteer resume.
The ONE volunteer also won the Citizenship Award, sponsored by the Department of Education and Honolulu Star Advertiser due to her outstanding efforts helping people. Yatsko also won the Ho’o Kanaka Award because of her leadership skills.
After she graduates from Boise State in 2018, the psychology major would like to become a high school or college counselor to help those who worry about going to college. She would also like to pursue her master’s degree at Boise or at Michigan State University and then would like to come back to Kauai to work.
“We’re proud of her to be part of such an organization,” he said. “Cassidy always had a community service streak to her. She’s had that as a part of her character since she was little. Finding ways to improve people’s lives is a global concern, so I hope she sticks with it.”
Yatsko plans to become a ONE co-correspondent after the current president graduates from the university. She also hopes to get more people involved.
“I’m hoping to advance the club with community service and get the word out about what ONE is from there,” said Yatsko.
After she graduates from Boise State in 2018, the psychology major would like to become a high school or college counselor to help those who worry about going to college. She would also like to pursue her master’s degree in Boise or at Michigan State University and then would like to come back to Kauai to work.