NPHS senior earns accolades for website

NPHS senior Gabby Frost has garnered an impressive collection of awards for her work to combat mental illness- one Buddy at a time.

Photo Courtesy of PB Teen

NPHS senior Gabby Frost has garnered an impressive collection of awards for her work to combat mental illness- one Buddy at a time.

When she was fifteen years old, Gabby Frost was just your typical high school freshman scrolling through Twitter in her free time. Fast forward almost three years later, and Frost, now eighteen years old and a senior at NPHS, is gaining local and even national recognition for her internet-based efforts to help teens struggling with depression and other mental illnesses.

As the founder of Buddy Project, a website dedicated to matching people with other people who have similar interests in hopes of starting lasting and uplifting friendships, Frost is currently in the midst of what has been a whirlwind few months for her and her Project. Within the past year, Frost has been named a Pottery Barn Extraordinary Teen, appointed to the Harvard Youth Advisory Board for a project aiming to better high schools across the nation, recognized as a Hometown Hero by Glamour, and nominated for a Shorty Award (an award she previously won in 2014 but lost this year to teen Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai).

With each of those recognitions have come experiences that have helped Frost push Buddy Project to become bigger and more expansive. One of her most enlightening trips was the three day journey to San Francisco she took this spring, courtesy of Pottery Barn Teen.

As one of the company’s Extraordinary Teens, Frost participated in a photo shoot with the eleven other award winners. Though sometimes the accomplishments of her fellow honorees were intimidating, she eagerly took the advice they had to offer.

“I was kind of the newer one,” said Frost. “Some of [the other winners] had their nonprofit since they were ten, so they were able to give me advice and tell me other things I could do to make myself known.”

One of the most valuable things the founder of the Project (which has over 120,000 signups as of October 31st, 2015) gained from that San Francisco trip was the importance of declaring nonprofit status, which Frost is currently in the process of doing with the help of her mom.

“If I hadn’t gone [to San Francisco for Pottery Barn Teen] Buddy Project might still not be a nonprofit,” she said.

Though Buddy Project was declared a nonprofit this summer, Frost is still awaiting federal 501(c)(3) status that would allow people to receive tax deductions on donations made to the organization.

In the meantime, she has been busy with other Project-related projects, such as the Harvard Advisory Board, for which she and her 24 fellow delegates must each come up with ideas on how to make high school a more accepting environment. Though the Board was just formed and Frost is still unsure as to what exactly her idea is going to be, she knows it will focus on the one thing that has proven to be her passion: mental health.

“I want to do something in schools to empower students to make a change, no matter what kind of change it is,” said Frost, summing up her goals for both her project for the Board and for the future of Buddy Project. “When I started [Buddy Project] I was fifteen, so I felt discouraged by my age. I want to let people know that they don’t have to be a certain age or have certain experience to do something. The idea and the passion is what can lead people to make something.”