Paisley’s Pals: Changing the World from Grapevine

Paisley’s Pals: Changing the World from Grapevine Main Photo

25 Apr 2024

Each April, we celebrate National Volunteer Month – a time dedicated to honoring the spirit of volunteerism in communities across the country. Here in Grapevine, we’re proud to have Paisley’s Pals. The organization strives to cultivate future leaders and compassionate activists through quality education to foster a peaceful world. And it is all fueled by the ideas and passion of 10-year-old visionary Paisley Elliott.

In 2017, then 4-year-old preschooler Paisley heard a bible story about refugees…and she had a lot of questions. Her mother, Tali Jones, faced the challenge of explaining what it means to be a refugee and then that there are refugees here at home and in countries all over the world. 

Paisley was instantly inspired to help. The next year, she collected 250 stuffed animals for children in war-torn Syria, hoping to provide them some comfort. Then, she collected over 500 pounds of supplies and hand-packed and later delivered blessing bags for families in the UN refugee camp at Estadio Jesus Martinez, Palillo in Mexico.

A Desire to Change the World Grows in Grapevine

Over the years, Paisley’s desire to help has only grown. And the businesses and residents of Grapevine were ready to support her! In 2019, she spent the summer launching LemonAID stands, partnering with area businesses like NOMAD Outfitters and Tommy Tamale to set up shop. Her CHANGE jars found their way into Main Street businesses, collecting spare change for a cause, and a crowdfunding campaign broadened her audience even more. By the end of the summer, she’d raised $20,000 to transform a one-story warehouse into a two-story school for refugee children who fled Syria and Afghanistan.

“Without a supportive community, I am not sure Paisley’s Pals would have been able to make a global impact so quickly,” said Tali. “We count our blessings daily that so many people, organizations, and companies have jumped up to help support Paisley in her endeavors.”

While the community has certainly rallied around this young entrepreneur, her determination drives her success.The school she built in 2019 eventually had to be relocated when the refugee camp around it burned down, inspiring Paisley to create what is now called the SHINE Box: a flat box classroom filled with customizable multi-panel units that can be configured as desks, shelves, bookcases, and more. According to Paisley, two SHINE Boxes can create a flexible, personalized learning environment for up to 24 children.

The SHINE Solution project continues to evolve. In 2021, Paisley’s Pals piloted the SHINE Box in the Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Western Uganda. Alongside the educational resources, the program includes a bike share, menstrual health education program, solar lamp distributions, and digital skills training programs.

“If you know anything about kids, you know their imagination NEVER stops,” said Paisley. “I get new ideas when I see something that worked really well, or if I find a gap in one of my projects.” 

Transforming Communities at Home and Abroad 

Paisley’s work has been recognized right here in Grapevine, recently receiving a Young Changemakers grant through the inaugural Change Bowl, a “Shark Tank” style competition for kids 8-18 to present their ideas about how to bring kindness and joy to their community for a positive impact offered by House of Shine. She pitched the Kindness Rocks podcast, which would share stories of kindness in the community. 

She’s also received worldwide recognition and support. In December, Paisley traveled to Geneva, Switzerland, for the Global Refugee Forum co-hosted by the Government of Switzerland and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where she presented a hands-on demonstration of the SHINE Box. “I pledged to bring 50 pop-up classrooms to refugee hosting countries by 2027, so I have a lot to work on,” Paisley said.

“It’s not every day you get a front-row seat to watch a child actively improving the lives of others,” said Tali. “From right here in Grapevine to rural Uganda, watching Paisley strive to accelerate her impact is the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”

Be Part of Our Incredible Community

Paisley’s Pals has so many incredible, inspiring stories to tell. Their team is a testament to the power of community, compassion, and the unlimited potential of youth; a shining example of volunteerism that transcends borders and demographics to ignite a global movement of kindness and innovation. Thanks to Paisley’s vision and the support of our community - alongside a network of international partners -  the organization is forging a path toward a brighter future. We’d love for you to be part of it.

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