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Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Date: May 3, 2016
NEW CASTLE (May 3, 2016) - Governor Jack Markell will present the Governor's Youth Volunteer Service Awards to eight individuals and seven groups of young people on May 19 at Polytech Adult Education Conference Center in Woodside.
More than 200 people are expected to join the Governor in honoring the young volunteers for their outstanding service. The event will begin with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and the ceremony starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 per person and are available online at evite.
Gov. Markell and his wife, Carla, have been champions for volunteerism and service, creating and participating in the annual Delaware Week of Service every year since 2009. Since 2010, the number of Delawareans who volunteer has increased 30 percent, with the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) reporting more than 192,000 Delawareans volunteering in 2014, contributing 21.4 million hours of service to nonprofit and community organizations. CNCS found that about one in four young people in Delaware volunteer.
"Across the state, I am impressed by the level of commitment our young people have to volunteerism and to serving vulnerable populations," Gov. Markell said. "Every day, they demonstrate that one person can make a difference in the lives of others. For Carla and me, drawing attention to volunteerism in Delaware and celebrating it has been one of our greatest honors."
The 2016 award recipients participated in such diverse activities as assisting people with disabilities, educating peers, leading nature and agriculture programs, supporting a fire company, coordinating blood drives and organizing fundraisers. They are representative of Delaware's young people who are making a positive contribution to society, and inspiring others to do the same.
"Our young people demonstrate that by helping others, especially those in vulnerable populations, it brings us all closer together and enhances our collective sense of community," said Rita Landgraf, Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, which oversees the State Office of Volunteerism. "From one generation to the next, that level of compassion and commitment shows how we are building a stronger and healthier Delaware."
The awards honor the volunteer efforts of young Delawareans in the areas of arts and culture, community service, education, environment, health, human needs, public service and social justice/advocacy. Volunteer efforts must have been performed during 2015, although prior volunteer activity can be highlighted to show long-term commitment. To be eligible, individuals must have been enrolled as secondary school students for the 2014-2015 academic year and be 18 or younger.
The Governor's Youth Volunteer Service Awards are sponsored by the Office of the Governor and are coordinated by the State Office of Volunteerism and the Governor's Commission on Community and Volunteer Service. To learn more about volunteer opportunities in Delaware, go to VolunteerDelaware.org.
2016 Governor's Youth Volunteer Service Award Winners
Micah, a senior at Mount Sophia Academy, spearheaded a yearlong effort to build a pavilion to be used by church, school and community groups, as well as by families and individuals who hike, bike and jog at an adjacent state park. In search of a project that would have a lasting impact on his community, Micah brainstormed with officials at his church and came up with the idea of building a pavilion where people could meet, sit and talk. Micah enlisted the assistance of 57 different people, as well as contributing almost 1,200 hours over the past two years to the Pavilion Project located in Newark.
Weston does a variety of volunteer work and each year selects one large service project. Last year, he organized a book drive in February throughout the Lake Forest School District and collected more than 4,500 books. Weston and his family made deliveries throughout Kent County and into Sussex County. The recipients of his book drive included Mom's House, People's Place, Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital (Pediatrics), Bayhealth-Milford Memorial Hospital, Harrington Library, Greenwood Library, a local veteran's group, Kent County Library and The Shepherd Place.
For the past three years, Malcolm has traveled to schools in Wilmington, New Castle and Philadelphia to lead workshops on agriculture through a service he created called the "Washington Agrication Program." He teaches younger students about the importance and impact agriculture has on our community. Writing lesson plans, designing labs and creating team-building activities, Malcolm has introduced more than 800 students to agriculture.
While volunteering at Blindsight Delaware, a nonprofit agency dedicated to improving the quality of life for Delawareans who are blind or visually impaired, Sabrina heard about a program called Vision to Learn. Vision to Learn provides children who do not have access to vision care with free eye exams and free glasses via a Mobile Eye Clinic. At the suggestion of the executive director, and with very little direction, Sabrina developed the Vision to Learn Volunteer Manual that will be implemented this summer. Combining the new Volunteer Manual and Sabrina's help recruiting volunteers, Vision to Learn will be able to serve many more children throughout Delaware and provide free screening, eye exams and glasses to children.
Over the past 18 months, Krishna has spent almost 170 hours volunteering at the Mary Campbell Center, helping to enrich the lives of the 67 full-time residents, as well as the participants of their outreach program for children and youth with disabilities. Krishna served as a counselor for the Children and Youth summer camp program, and also took on a much-needed wood-working project, which assisted in a center-wide organization initiative. He is also an activity volunteer and created a science program, which the residents love.
As part of an Odyssey of the Mind team, sponsored by Barrel of Makers, Inc., Elizabeth spent a conservatively estimated 110 hours fundraising, creating, and teaching individuals with disabilities how to use "drawbots." Thanks to their joystick controls, the drawbots are robots that provide people with disabilities with a way to express themselves by making works of art. At the same time, Elizabeth is active in additional volunteer initiatives that serve other communities. She is president of the "DreamCatcher" branch at Wilmington Charter. This group works to make the last dream of a hospice patient come true. She also worked with one other young woman to bring the Pulsera Project, which aims to educate Nicaraguan youth, to her school.
As an active member of the Harrington Volunteer Fire Company, Cody has volunteered more than 100 hours responding to a multitude of emergency incidents and another 50 or more working at hall functions that support the financial needs of the Volunteer Fire Company. As a direct result of Cody's volunteer service, a particular truck may have another person on it to cover a task more quickly and a truck may get out of the station faster for a situation in which every second matters.
Will's Carnival for a Cause, founded by middle school student Will Kenney, is a fun-filled event for community members of all ages, aimed at raising awareness and funds to benefit those who suffer from Sturge-Weber Syndrome (SWS). SWS is a rare, congenital neurological and skin disorder often associated with port-wine facial marks, glaucoma, seizures, and developmental issues. Replete with carnival games, bounce houses, rides, a dunking booth, food, a silent auction, and so much more, Will's Carnival for a Cause has raised more than $15,000 for the Sturge-Weber Foundation in just two events. Will Kenney is currently in the planning stages for his third annual event.Group
Scouts by their nature are committed to service; it's in their oath. Milford Scouts, Boy Scouts Troop 116 and Girl Scout Troop 1233 have clearly demonstrated their commitment to Scouting and their commitment to the community by initiating and completing 10 service projects resulting in almost 1,100 hours of community service. Through their community service, the Milford Scouts have enriched the lives of the citizens in Kent County, enhanced the safety of visitors to the Air Mobility Command Museum, provided care to discarded and abused pets, cleaned and evaluated the health of the environment, and provided data to environmental managers to change policy. It is safe to say they have touched the lives of thousands, not just today, but into the future.
The young women who make up the Miss Delaware Teen Class of 2016 have introduced and encouraged several hundred school children to learn about careers in STEAM fields, prepare for emergencies, learn about the dangers of eating disorders, help get animals adopted, work to feed the homeless, and so much more. Collectively, the 13-member Miss Delaware Teen Class of 2016 has volunteered more than 450 hours in service of over 20 local initiatives.
The Senators In Action is a deeply committed group of seventh- and eighth-grade students who give their time to different causes for the good of the community. The 12 young people spent more than 250 hours preparing meals for shelter residents, planting trees, working on Code Purple and numerous other activities in service to others.
The Lake Forest High School Principles in Leadership Class consists of 29 students who performed almost 2,500 hours of service that touch all parts of their community. The positive impact on the community is as varied and far-reaching as the 19 different service projects for which the members of the Principles in Leadership Class volunteered. These 29 students serve as role models for younger students and their peers, and show adults that the next generation is ready and able to take on the challenges of today's world in a positive manner.
The Leasure B.E.A.R.S. Care Club has, so far this year, spent more than 250 hours on more than 20 different service projects, from cleaning roads and landscaping, to raising money for charitable causes to collecting food, yarn, jeans, dog food, and toiletries for local charities. The mostly fourth- and fifth-graders have a passion to make a difference in the world around them.
G.A.V.E. members in the state of Delaware have contributed at least 377 hours in the past year. Those hours have impacted the areas of literacy, emergency preparedness, homelessness, poverty, epilepsy awareness, cancer awareness, mentoring, senior care, military support, and more. Additionally, they have raised more than $5,000 in cash and in-kind donations to support causes throughout the state.
Student Council members of William Penn High School devoted more than 250 hours of time to the Blood Bank of Delmarva this school year alone. The Student Council members promote the Blood Bank's need for cultural diversity among the donor base. In addition to supporting the basic needs of the Blood Bank of Delmarva through blood drives, the Student Council also created a Student Recruiting DVD used by all of the high schools on the Delmarva, and have set up ongoing lab tours to inspire new donors.
Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.