A young woman from Halifax has received a prestigious honour.
Rebeccah Raphael has been recognized by Her Majesty the Queen with the 147th Commonwealth Point of Light award.
The awards recognize inspirational volunteers making a difference in their communities and beyond.
Earlier this year, Raphael's school year was cut short. She was in her final year at Pearson College UWC in Victoria, B.C. when the COVID-19 pandemic made its way to Canada.
One day, the teen was lying in bed and feeling pretty helpless when she decided to explore virtual volunteer opportunities.
She stumbled upon a book buddy program in Calgary, which gave her the idea to launch an online tutoring program right here in HRM.
The Halifax Helpers now has 50 tutors for elementary school and junior high students, hosting 300 sessions a week for several subjects including English, French, Social Studies, Math and Science.
During a virtual ceremony with Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, Arthur J. LeBlanc, and UK High Commissioner to Canada, Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque, Raphael said she's honoured.
"A lot of the children are so grateful and have such a fun time with the tutors," she said.
"The tutors will always message me saying how grateful the children are, how grateful the parents are, because of course it's such a burden on the parents to have them teach their own children stuff that they aren't necessarily comfortable teaching."
Over the summer, Raphael said the website is getting a redesign to increase capacity so they can host more students this fall.
The Halifax Helpers is also partnering with the YMCA, which allows them to recruit volunteers through the Canada Student Service Grant.
"Which is an initiative that the Canadian government is doing where students get funding for their university for volunteering," she explained.
Most of the funding for the website has come from donations, but the groups has also been applying for grants to keep them going.
Raphael has enrolled at the University of Toronto. She's not sure yet if she'll be heading to Ontario this fall, or attending classes virtually from Halifax.
However, she plans to continue on with The Halifax Helpers and said she can't wait for the team to expand the project so they can help out more students.