2020 Governor's Youth Volunteer Service Awards

Highlighting the difference that young volunteers make in their communities, Governor John Carney recently presented the Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Awards to 29 individuals and 9 groups in recognition of their service to Delaware. “Giving back to our communities is one of the most selfless things a person can do,” Governor Carney said. “To see the number of young people we are honoring this year and the range of their volunteer activities makes me proud for the future of our state. These young people are helping to change the lives of people in need and serving as an inspiration for others to follow their lead.” In 2019, 15,118 Delawareans of all ages volunteered through community partners with the State Office of Volunteerism, contributing 647,848 hours of service to nonprofit and community organizations. In economic terms, those volunteers contributed nearly $16 million in services to Delaware and its residents. 

The 2020 youth award recipients raised money for local nonprofits, supported school programs, befriended young people with disabilities, worked to protect Delaware’s environment and gave back to the arts. The honorees are representative of Delaware’s young people who are making a positive contribution to society and inspiring others to do the same. “In honoring the contributions of time and passion by these young volunteers receiving the Governor’s Volunteer Youth Service Award, we recognize youth helping their fellow Delawareans and we are building a stronger community through volunteerism and developing the next generation of leaders,” said Kanani Hines Munford, Executive Director, Governor’s Commission on Community and Volunteer Service.

Honorees were highlighted during a virtual ceremony to air during the 2020 Delaware Volunteerism Conference on August 13, 2020. The Governor’s Office sponsors the Youth Volunteer Service Awards, which are coordinated by the State Office of Volunteerism and the Governor’s Commission on Community and Volunteer Service.


The nomination period for the 2020 Governor's Youth Volunteer Service Awards has closed. Honorees were announced during the 2020 Volunteer Delaware conference held virtually on August 13, 2020. 


Congratulations to the 2020 Governor's Youth Volunteer Service Awards Honorees

Individuals

Caroline Allen, Kent County

Caroline Allen is a member of the Westville 4-H club where she has been elected as the 2019 news reporter. In this role she exhibits good leadership qualities and serves as a role model to the members of the club. She attended all 4-H meetings and submits updates to be included in the monthly 4-H monthly Kent County Newsletter. As a 4-H camp counselor she led a class of 8 – 12-year old’s that focused on foods and nutrition. She was also the “STEAM ambassador”. STEAM Corps is an AmeriCorps*State program that places members in counties across the state to provide Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) programming to local youth. Caroline was part of the team that began the first Delaware 4-H Tech Team. The mission is to develop a curriculum for 4-H teens to teach throughout the state of Delaware to grow the interest in computer science fields. In addition to Caroline’s profound involvement with 4-H Noah’s Animal Rescue Center, a Faith-based nonprofit focusing on training and using rescued animals to minister to people as therapy animals. Caroline’s love for animals shines in this volunteer position.

 
Madison Bauerle, New Castle County 

Madison Bauerle, a junior student athlete at Appoquinimink High School, is a member of the Delaware Interscholastic Athletic Association/ Special Olympics of Delaware Unified Football and Basketball teams, in which through a partnership lead by Special Olympics, works with Appoquinimink High School student-athletes who have disabilities. Madison is an inspiring leader for her teammates with disabilities both on and off the field or court. On the field she is constantly reminding them what their jobs are, putting them in the right place with various cues and personalized tactics she has developed with them through all her interactions. Madison uses the athletic playing fields as a highway to bridge the gap of inclusion within the daily comings and goings of the Appoquinimink High School hallways. She not only lives the message on the field, but in school as well. She helped her coach put together the first ever “Senior Night Recognition Ceremony” for the Unified Flag Football team. Madison has been paramount in not only helping to build the foundation of the program, but truly has lived the mission of accepting others and focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities. Madison Bauerle spreads the power of inclusion through athletics.

 
Liam Gardner-Bowler, Sussex County

Delaware's battle to fight opioid addiction doesn't only affect adults. Children of those struggling with addiction often don't have the resources that other children have, and often struggle academically. For these reasons, Noah Gardner Bowler wanted to create a Learning Resource Center in the Milford Mommy and Me sober living home. Noah spearheaded the learning Center project. He recruited fellow Eagle Scouts, 4-H members, leaders, church members and local bushiness to collect, purchase and set up the resource center. Noah and his team collected items that are now housed on a bookshelf decorated with positive messages. Additionally, Noah collected school supplies for all ages to help the kids when school started. A storage caddy is now available to store art supplies and educational items. The shelves are filled with games and DVD's. There are now art supplies for all ages to help them with school projects. Books from toddlers to teens are now available in the Learning Resource Center. Noah understands the diverse needs for children of those struggling with addiction. Among children whose parents have a substance use disorder, risk for negative outcomes are highly variable. Noah has a heartfelt compassion for children of substance abusing parents and strongly supports this multi-risk population is deserving of effective services.

 
Megan Chen, New Castle County

Megan Chen is a 17-year-old activist, author, and entrepreneur is the founder of The Urban Garden Initiative, which is a nonprofit organization that aims to empower and inspire youth to achieve urban sustainability through a gardening-based program. Through her work with The Urban Garden Initiative, she has been able to provide resources and opportunities for lower-income youth to become environmental change makers within their communities. One of the needs that Megan aims to address is the major food desert problem within Wilmington, Delaware. Many of the schools that she works with are often located in inner-city Wilmington where it is very difficult to not only access healthy produce but, also grow food, as much of the land is known as a brownfield. To address this issue, Megan creates container gardens. These are portable urban gardens that can be grown in small spaces or even indoors. In addition, she works to address the needs of environmental education for middle school students in order to inspire them to become environmental changemakers. Megan works with over 15+ schools and community centers within Delaware and has chapters all over the world.

 
Edward Cierniak, New Castle County 

Ed Cierniak’s strong volunteer ethic comes from his foundation as a Boy Scout. Beginning as a cub scout at a young age, Ed learned that helping other people is an important part of being a good citizen. As a part of the Scout Ranger Program at First State Historical Park, Ed was responsible for trail maintenance, trash remediation and maintenance of the picnic area along a stretch of the Brandywine Creek. Ed did such an exceptional job in this program that he was invited to complete his Eagle project in partnership with the New Castle Historical Society. For this project, Ed decided he wanted to install the necessary ramp to make the Amstel House in Old New Castle ADA compliant. Ed worked to get plans drawn and all materials for the project donated. It was no small feet to convince the Old New Castle Historical Board to entrust a 16-year-old Boy Scout with the responsibility of bringing in materials, digging foundations and building a needed ramp in such a way that both respected the integrity of a 250-year-old house and also would be used by hundreds of people in the years to come. Ed’s presentation was well received, and permission given. He then recruited volunteers and got to work. Ed committed more than 100 volunteer hours to this project that resulted in making Amstel House accessible to all visitors regardless of mobility. Nominator Daniel Reese wrote “Edward Cierniak learned early that it is always beneficial to help” and “Ed has always ‘paid it forward.’”

 
Katelyn Craft, New Castle County

Katelyn Craft is a long-time volunteer at Exceptional Care for Children in Newark. Each child is involved in the everyday activities of playing, learning and growing while receiving expert medical care. Katelyn works in the playroom and living room. She loves coloring and reading to the children. You will often find her cuddling them. She loves all the children at the facility. Many of them do not have regular visits from family, it is important to her that each of them knows they are loved. Katelyn is a positive companion for the children receiving care at Exceptional Care for Children. Many young children have feelings about the changes an illness has on his/her body. Katy encourages them and provides them opportunities to communicate these feelings and express their concerns and fears. Music, drawing, or writing can often help kids express their emotions and escape through a fantasy world of their own design. Regardless of their age, illness or disability, Katy always lets them know that there are people who love them and will be there for them. Katy is always available to talk, play, or hold a child’s hand. She knows just being next to them will provide the greatest comfort. Through the pain and discomfort these children experience, whenever they see Katy they smile and always find the strength to hug her.

 
Melanie Dasher, Sussex County 

Melanie Dasher is involved with many activities in and out of school. At the young age of 7, she became a part of the organization HEY SIS which stands for Helping Every Youth Succeed in School. Her main goal is to provide school supplies to children preparing to begin kindergarten. Each year her goal is to collect school supplies for approximately 400 head start children. In addition to this, she hosts book drives and community events to give out free books. She volunteers for a variety of special events at the local Head Start programs including dressing up as Elsa, for winter celebrations. Her community involvement does not stop with HEY SIS. She helps cook and serve dinner at the Code Purple shelter in Seaford. Melanie is active in collecting, sorting and hanging up clothes for the Helping Hands Clothing Closet in Bridgeville. Many Non-Profit organizations such as Loflan Senior Center, Shoebox Ministries, Project Sparkle On, and the National Junior Honor Society contact Melanie to assist with and volunteer at events. Her determination and enthusiasm motivate her peers to become more involved in the community.

 
Madelyn David, New Castle County 

Nominated by her middle school librarian, Madelyn David is a tireless champion of literacy in her community. As a middle schooler, Maddy was known to be an advocate for others and that passion for advocacy and service continued through to high school. This past summer, Madelyn designed and built a little free library as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project. Active in scouts for several years, nominator Katelyn Scott says that “she takes seriously the promise to help people at all times, and the words considerate, caring and responsible perfectly sum up how Maddy lives her life. She is the embodiment of the {Girl Scout} law to make the world a better place.” Madelyn is an active volunteer with numerous efforts in the community and has served more than 100 hours in completion of her Gold Award project alone. Her kind, considerate and compassionate nature are character traits that her teachers and peers alike are quick to recognize and point out.

 
Sadie Davis, Sussex County

Sadie Davis was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes when she was 10 years old. A few months after her diagnosis she sought the support from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Since that time, she has engaged in a tremendous number of philanthropic events to increase awareness about the disease as well as fundraising for research. She role modeled her leadership abilities as “youth ambassador”. Youth ambassadors are those who are learning how to live with raise awareness of the disease. Ms. Davis attended a three-day event in Washington DC where she represented Delaware as a delegate. Youth Ambassadors met with Delaware State Representatives; the information they received from youth ambassadors afforded the continuation of a bill that insured the Junior Diabetes Research Foundation continues to receive funding. From this experience, Sadie was inspired to spearhead legislation that would make necessary legal changes allowing a layperson to assist with the administration of glucagon, as opposed to having licensed professional administer the necessary treatment. Because of her efforts, the legislation was passed which made it possible for children living with diabetes to engage in experiences they may not have had an opportunity to participate in since a medical provider would have been needed to be on site.

 
Julie DeMarco, New Castle County 

Julie DeMarco is a volunteer with Kalmar Nyckel serving on the sailing crew as a tour guide on board during festivals. Julie shows dedication to learning the operations of the ship and how to involve guest in hauling in lines. She has excelled in both climbing the rigging and maintenance. While sailing, Julie does tasks needed to keep the ship safe such as furling the sails, or unfouling flags. In these roles, she shows eagerness to learn and share with both guests and other volunteers. During the weeks Julie sailed in 2019, the ship saw over 2500 guest who came to enjoy a day sail, tour, or even a conversation with the crew to learn about the history of the Kalmar Nyckel. Her youth and vigor bring energy to the ship and crew that spreads to guests who sail and tour the ship. Young children, especially young girls are fascinated with seeing a female teenager on board the ship climbing high into the rigging. Julie was taking the helm on this 300-ton vessel before she could drive a car. She is part of the three generations of individuals volunteering on the Kalmar Nyckel and is an inspiration to many.

 
Timothy Dziubinsky, Jr, Kent County

After a year of Service with the Clayton Fire Company, Timothy Dziubinsky Jr. has spent more than 1,000 hours as an on-call responder for structure fires, motor vehicle crashes, and medical emergencies as well as attending the numerous trainings required for such response. Timothy has a contagious enthusiasm that helps create a stronger team. Timothy is known at the fire station as being someone who is always willing to help and eager to learn. Of Timothy’s service, nominator Kevin Wilson said “Tim is not a member for what he can get, but what he can give back…Being a member of a fire company is not about giving a few hours a week, it is about making a commitment to serve your fellow man. Tim has made that commitment and in doing so makes himself a better person, the Clayton Fire Company a better fire company and the community a better place.”

 
Clara-Rosa Hertzog, Sussex County 

As the Battalion Commander of the Cape Henlopen JROTC, Clara-Rosa Hertzog has many responsibilities to occupy her time and yet in the past year she has spent an additional 250 hours leading volunteer efforts in the community. Visiting hospitals, volunteering at the library, helping with parades, grand opening and fundraisers are all ways that Clara-Rosa has shown her dedication to service. Of her efforts, nominator Eileen Springfield said “through Clara-Rosa’s efforts, the JROTC program here at Cape is more streamlined and organized and enrollment and voluntary participation is at an all time high.” Student leaders like Clara-Rosa inspire others around them to serve by acting as exceptional role models for their peers. This was never more evident then through Clara-Rosa’s work to rally the color guard to lead Veteran’s Day celebrations at all the district’s elementary schools. Clara-Rosa has added to an already full schedule of volunteer opportunities for students in the JROTC program and leads by example, working diligently to support military veterans and children’s programming in the Cape Henlopen community.

 
Priya Jayakumar, New Castle County

Priya Jayakumar is a creative and motivated student leader who donated more than 230 hours of her time to various organizations last year including Caravel Academy, AI Dupont Children’s Hospital and Charity Crossing. Priya’s initiative led to the passing of a resolution to mark February 14th as “Sock for the Homeless Day” in Kent County and an annual sock drive to benefit individuals experiencing homelessness. At her high school, Priya has helped to expand the network of students volunteering through her example and influenced several teachers to begin volunteering as well. These students collect socks and candy to distribute to individuals in need and participate in an annual Autism Awareness walk. To build participation in the walk, Priya and a group of friends designed posters, flyers and signage that was installed at Glasgow park. Priya also devotes time to helping Charity Crossing with administrative tasks like drafting emails, assisting with the website and responding to partner requests. Of her dedication, nominator Ronald Davis said “she has chosen to be a leader at her school in influencing other students and teachers to serve the less fortunate in our state. She serves others with a smile and is always pleasant, even when circumstances are challenging.”

 
Kylee Kiess, New Castle County

In nominating Kylee Kiess, school counselor Janice Johnson said “Kylee is a young lady who gives selflessly and enjoys helping others without any expectation of accolades or praise.” In the past year, Kylee has raised more than $1500 for a variety of causes and charities by hosting lemonade or hot chocolate stands in front of her home. Through advertising on social media, Kylee gets the word out and invites people in her community to visit her stand for a free beverage with the option of donating to the cause she is supporting that day. She spends approximately 45 hours per event planning, preparing, advertising and sitting at the stand. Her beneficiaries include hurricane relief, bags for individuals experiencing homelessness, the organization No Kid Hungry, and Alex’s Lemonade Stand (a charity that raises money for childhood cancer research) In addition to her fundraising, Kylee has volunteered with the Girl Scouts, Special Olympics, the Character Climb group and organized the Kindness Ambassador program at Brick Mill Elementary School.

 
Krish Malhotra, New Castle County 

For nearly 10 years, Krish Malhotra has served as an outstanding and influential member of Global Youth H.E.L.P. (“GYH”), a non-profit organization that trains young people to become leaders in their communities through service. He has demonstrated exemplary leadership skills while conducting an annual coat drive, organizing a holiday hygiene donation program for homeless veterans, and holiday care packages as well as backpack donations for disadvantaged children. Krish’s passion for serving homeless veterans stemmed from his experience with both of his grandfathers serving in the military. When Krish learned about the sad reality experienced by many homeless veterans who pass away each year due to hypothermia and frostbite from living in harsh conditions without adequate protection, he launched his annual coat and hygiene care packages drive. Krish was deeply saddened to learn that homeless veterans who had served our nation were facing harsh winters and lacked basic hygiene supplies to maintain a basic sanitary lifestyle. Thus, by donating gently used jackets, new socks and hygiene care packages. Krish has enthusiastically channeled his passion into action for service projects to benefit the veterans in need and disadvantaged children in our community.

 
Rishima Sing Mall, New Castle County

The Cokesbury Village retirement community residents often enjoy the beautiful sounds produced from Rishima Sing Mall’s flute or, the soft uplifting sound from the strings of her guitar. Her tunes from the Andy Griffith Show, Green Acres, or Hogan’s Hero’s brings smiles and memories from their younger years. Along with their smiles, you can hear the residents humming, singing, or even whistling to the familiar tunes. For the more physically – able residence, she engages them in games and activities which offers exercise and provides sensory- stimuli. During the holiday season Rishima teams up with the facilities coordinator to bake treats and make milk shakes in the Cokesbury kitchen for residents to enjoy as part of the festivities. Visitors and staff join in on the holiday sing-along. Rishima, along with the staff at Cokesbury Village ensures that everyone’s, holiday spirit, and stockings of peace are filled to the brim. She creates scrumptious ice cream sundaes, followed by many conversations around books she reads to residents, bringing forth animated opinions and perspectives, which provokes many journeys down memory lane.

 
Patricia Maloney, New Castle County

Patricia began volunteering at her church where she is actively involved with preparing and serving meals to the members. She then joined the Girl Scouts where she fell in love with community service. She spends her summers at the New County County’s Counselors in Training Program where she leads children’s activities. She mentors’ children at Safety Town a miniature town with child –sized houses, crosswalks and streets. She teaches children ages 4, 5, and 6 about safety through songs and role playing. In addition to her love for children, she brings joy to the elderly by visiting with residence in assisted living facilities. While visiting the elderly she engages in conversation and sings to them. She helps to relieve the loneliness many residents in assisted living facilities encounter. Patricia has had to learn about Ovarian Cancer and has a strong desire to give hope to those who suffered with the disease. Her strong desire to give hope is the driving force behind her involvement with fundraising for the Ovarian Cancer Society.

 
Kenna Harrold-Mansk, New Castle County

In the chairs and wheelchairs assembled before her, many residents sing along with Kenna Harrold Mansk during one of her many visits to the Brandywine Nursing Home. Nursing home and assisted living residence are often isolated and excluded, which is one of the many reasons Kenna visits the elderly. Through her frequent visits, she makes them feel loved and connected to the community. If she is not singing or talking with a residence at Brandywine Nursing Home, you will find her doing crafts or playing games with residence at Stonegate Nursing Home. She is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Girl Scouts where she is valuable in recruiting new Girl Scouts. Her knowledge, experience, passion and advocacy spark the interests of new members, they want to join the Girls Scouts. She volunteers at the Girl Scout recruitment nights where she shares her experience as a Girl Scout to young girls and their parents. She speaks with Brownie Groups to educate them on respecting themselves and sisterhood.  Kenna believes that all children should be loved and for this reason, she is involved with fundraising for the Madison Adoption Agency. She is an advocate for adopted children and wants to ensure they all know they are loved just as much as a biological child is loved.

 
Shreya Mehta, New Castle County

Shreya Mehta has spent the last three summers giving back as a volunteer counselor at the Delaware Aerospace Education Foundation Aerospace Academy summer camp. In the summer of 2019 alone, Shreya volunteered over 120 hours as a counselor for a class of middle school “cadets” during a one week overnight camp and an additional day camp class. Despite being offered a paid position to perform this work, Shreya refused to accept payment and instead devoted her summer hours to planning and teaching her cadets about advanced middle school STEM concepts. In addition to her work with the camp, Shreya also founded the Healthy Eating and Active Lifestyle club, also known as HEAL, at her school. Through this endeavor, Shreya promotes healthy food choices and works to address food inequality issues. Of Shayla’s commitment to volunteerism, nominator Christopher Duvall of the Appoquinimink School District said “Shreya does not just ‘do service’ to fulfill a requirement or check a box…she volunteers to follow her passion and follows her passion through volunteering”

 
Dhivya Muthupalaniappan, New Castle County

“She has a natural instinct to care for others. Hence, serving others is not a work for her, but just a way of life” These words, written by nominator Richard Huber, describe 11-year-old Dhivya Muthupalaniappan. Over the past year, Dhivya spent more than 160 hours serving hundreds of individuals experiencing homelessness, senior citizens, individuals with visual impairments and children residing in a local long-term care facility. One notable project led by Dhivya was her Halloween candy drive. With a goal of collecting 30lbs of candy to give to people experiencing homelessness or hardship to brighten their day, she came home with more than 75lbs. Dhivya then recruited volunteers to help sort the candy, identify allergens for separate packaging, and pack almost 400 bags for distribution. She and her parents spent several weekends walking the streets of Wilmington to pass these bags of candy out to individuals experiencing homelessness and then split the remaining candy between the Sunday Breakfast Mission, Emmanuel Dining Hall and Friendship House. This led to learning about other needs in the community and new, expanded collection drives. In addition to these projects, Dhivya’s heart for children living in a long-term care facility has led her to spend hours visiting and doing activities to bring a smile to their faces. Dhivya says she lives her life by the famous Gandhi quote “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

 
Alan Marin - Quiroz, Sussex County

Nominated by his Assistant Principal at Cape Henlopen High School, Alan Marin-Quiroz is a volunteer leader among his peers. Serving more than 200 hours in the past year, Alan has taken the lead on projects that have had a significant impact on his community. One example of Alan’s leadership was shown as recruited ten other students to conduct “Flag Etiquette” classes for Veterans Day and Memorial Day and also to assist with visits to residents at the Lewes Rehabilitation Center. Under his leadership, students from the school also partnered with the Dewey Beach Lions Club to sort and package food items at the Delaware Food Bank in Milford on twelve separate occasions packing more than 3,900 pounds of food for families in need throughout Delaware. Alan has dedicated time and leadership to help involve students from his school with organizations including: National Kidney Foundation, Korean War Veterans Association, Daughters of the American Revolution, Easter Seals, The Harry K Foundation, Lewes Library, Delaware Seashore State Park and the American Legion. Of Alan, nominator James McDowell said “Student leadership, community participation, and the dedication of many personal hours was the hallmark of Mr. Marin-Quiroz’s efforts.”

 
Vincent Ricciardi, New Castle County

Vincent serves on the sailing crew and interacts eloquently and with a smile on his face with the passengers and crew of all ages. Vincent has excelled in both climbing the rigging and leading a crew of volunteers in his well-earned roll as watch chief on ocean voyages. While climbing, Vincent does tasks needed to keep the ship safe such as furling the sails, or unfouling flags. Young crew with lots of energy are key members of the climbing team on the ship. As a watch chief, Vincent is responsible for about 10 other volunteers and assigning all watch keeping duties on the ship such as steering the ship and lookout, as well as daily ship routines such as cleaning and doing dishes. In these rolls, The Kalmar Nyckel was highly successful at representing Delaware and our history in Provincetown MA, and on the Hudson River in NY, drawing many people to come aboard the ship as well as ask questions on the dock. A strong volunteer force is needed to make this impact, and Vincent was a huge part of the team providing consistency from week to week as other volunteers rotated on and off the crew. As a topman climber, he performs tasks that some of our crew can not do. Guest on board enjoy watching the art of square rig sailing stay alive as Vincent climbs to the top of the ship to do a job. Guests can imagine they are gazing up the masts back to 1638. Vincent does a wonderful job of communication with the officers on the watch as well as with other volunteers age 14 to 85!

 
Jayda Ruffini, New Castle County 

Learning to read is a major period in a young child’s development. Jayda Ruffini volunteers at the Cedar Lane Early Childhood Center where she works for the emotional, physical, intellectual and social development of more than 250 students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. Many of the students did not know their letter recognition, letter sounds, could not write their name or read their sight words. Jayda took on the responsibilities of working with these students every year to get them to become successful in learning all the aforementioned. She was consistent, focused, and very eager to work with each student to help these students be successful and they were. Because of Jayda's dedication and commitment to the students who attend Early Childhood Center, many of them recognize letters, sounds and can read sight words. Regardless of the student’s abilities, Jayda remained dedicated to each student. She never gave up on them regardless of the struggles. Learning to read is a major step in young kids' development, but there's a lot to learn before they start cracking open books on their own. Preschoolers and kindergartners can get a head start in the reading process by learning to recognize letters and simple words and thanks to Jayda's dedication to these kids, they all are well on their way.

 
Austin Sarker-Young, New Castle County

Austin Sarker – Young spearheaded initiatives for Wilmington Friends School to earn the national Wildlife Federations Eco School USA Bronze Award. Austin scheduled a meeting with the school principle to discuss the schools ongoing efforts to be environmentally sustainable and asked why the school had not yet applied to the National Wildlife Federation to be recognized as a certified Eco-School. Austin submitted a formal proposal and requested to be included as an agenda item at each divisions faculty meetings, presented his proposal and need for volunteers in front of three different student audiences, and followed up with emails and in person conversations to sure up individual commitment to the rapidly forming “Eco Team” Solely as a result of Austin’s initiative and perseverance the school has completed a school- wide initiative to install a native plant meadow, has formalized it’s ecological commitment by integrating ecologic – minded objectives into its science curriculum. The organic community gardens donate the produce it grows as part of “Plant a Row for the Hungry” The new beds Austin installed has doubled the production. Due to Austin’s efforts Wilmington Friends School has successfully completed all criteria and has received the Eco- Schools USA Bronze Award.

 
Savannah Shepard, New Castle County

The Delaware Social Justice Remembrance Coalition is an active group of community members interested in remembering the past in order to clear a path for a more positive and productive future.

This group was founded by 15-year-old Savannah Shepherd after she attended the opening of the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama in April, 2018. She and her family believed it would be an amazing and inspirational experience but, Savannah herself had no idea it would be a life-changing experience for her. The unintended consequence of Savannah's participation has inspired her to become a passionate advocate for social equality and justice. Through her passion for social equality she founded Delaware Social Justice Remembrance Coalition to galvanize broad discussion about the states history in dealing with race. Savannah is passionate about social equality and is now working with Delaware Historical Society and the University of Delaware to uncover lynching’s in the state that haven't been well documented. Her organization is working to educate the public on other incidents of racial terror in Delaware.

 
Neel Sortur, New Castle County

Wheelchair bound patients at the Wilmington Veterans Affair Assisted Living Facility can enjoy gardens and plant flowers that are meaningful to them, due to the therapeutic garden tables Neel Sortur constructed. There is a high incidence of post- traumatic stress disorder, depression and other physical and emotional impairments in veterans, which can be relieved by interacting with sensory gardens such as this. Neel made scale drawings and models of the tables beforehand to ensure the tables would be fitted for the wheelchair’s height and width. In order to fund the project, Neel hosted car wash fundraisers. Additionally, he mentored under experiences woodworkers and carpenters. The project not only benefited veterans with gardening, but also, with creative art using ceramics and sand play for additional tactile stimulation. Neel also volunteers at the My Health Veteran office instructing veterans how to use the healthcare software and visiting bed bound patients to familiarize them with bedside computer functionalities.

 
Lily Suh, New Castle County

As a volunteer at the Summit Retirement Community for the past three years, Lily Suh has brought music to the lives of residents. What started as an opportunity for Lily and her younger sister to share their love of the harp with residents, expanded into the co-founding of a Music Outreach Club at Lily’s  high school. Now a large group of students performs regularly at Summit, and share their talents. Instrumental performances include the piano, clarinet, violin, guitar, and harp with vocalists performing as well. All of this, according to nominator Scott Thomas, “gives our residents the opportunity to not only enjoy live music but continue to interact with young people within our community. These exchanges are invaluable in promoting our residents’ mental and emotional wellbeing.” Lily has also convinced her harp teacher to now begin holding recitals at the Summit Retirement Community, expanding access to live performances even further. It is through her leadership that students in her school have learned the importance of sharing your time and talents with the community around you.

 
Saathvik Swamy, New Castle County

A student at Alfred G Waters Middle School in Middletown, Saathvik Swamy is an enthusiastic volunteer with the organization Charity Crossing. His participation in projects including the Autism Awareness Walk, school supply drive, candy drive and “Stockings for Soldiers” project contributed to his 132 hours of service in the past year. He spent last summer taking inventory, sorting and packing 220 backpacks for distribution to students in need in addition to his regular volunteer service picking up, sorting and distributing donations for the Middletown organization. After winning a soccer Olympic competition, Saathvik donated his prize money to support Charity Crossing’s mission of connect, care, share. Saathvik was also a Bowling Buddy, working with the Special Olympics unified sports program to mentor and support a student with exceptionalities. Nominator Ronald Davis of Charity Crossing said Saathvik “always displays a wonderful attitude in serving the community and does so with a smile”.

 
Rachel Taylor, Kent County

Rachel Taylor provide her community with a healthy option of eating through her community garden.  This work included planting seeds, pulling the weeds and picking the ripe vegetables. In order to get the garden ready, it required determining dimensions, collecting seeds/plants, tilling the land, fertilizing and marking the plants. The community garden worked in a unique way. When a person visited the garden, they were asked to help with the maintenance by pulling some weeds in exchange for fresh produce they could take. One person could take as much or as little as they needed. The produce that was in the garden was available on a first come-first serve basis as it continued to grow. The garden location was accessible off the highway in Farmington. In order to keep track of the produce coming out of the garden, Rachel created a spreadsheet that had 4 categories. This information included: name, the produce taken, how long they spent at the garden, and any suggestions they would like to share. This helped indicate the popular produce for further seasons as well as the average time spent at the garden. From the beginning of the season to the end and it was a fun atmosphere where people could come together and make a difference in their lives.

 

 

Groups

Maggie and Avery Bare
Sussex County 

For the third year in a row, Maggie and Avery Bare have orchestrated a coat drive for Catholic Charities and the Code Purple shelter in Seaford, DE that yielded 387 coats. These young girls inspired their classmates to join the project initiating a new generation of volunteers. They were also motivated to reach out to community organizations including the Frankford Town Hall, Next Step Learning Center in Selbyville, Coldwell Banker in Ocean View, and the Milton Police Department in order to reach more donors. Their outreach not only provided warmth and comfort from a coat, the girls solicited cash from family and friends to purchase boots, socks, gloves, hand/feet warmers to distribute at the Seaford Code Purple Shelter. Through collecting, cleaning, sorting, and distributing the ladies have worked countless hours to be able to provide coats and other winter materials to those in need. In addition to the coat drive, the girls shopped and wrapped Christmas gifts for students in need at the Selbyville Middle School. Maggie and Avery also volunteer at the Salem United Church’s food pantry sorting food and carrying bags for the pantry’s clients. Success in reading is an indicator of success in life. Their Little Free Library in the Town Park gives access to free books for those who cannot purchase books or do not have transportation to a regular library to check out and return books. The girls built their free library with two levels: a lower one to encourage and make it easier for children to access the books and a taller level for adults. By inspiring and soliciting their classmates, family and friends to volunteer, they are harvesting the energy of volunteers and leading the next generation of volunteers.

 
Caesar Rodney High School JROTC
Kent County

With 130 members contributing more than 4500 hours in 2019 and already more than 5000 hours in 2020, there is no question that the Caesar Rodney High School JROTC are a force for good in their community. Nominator Dr. Sherry Kijowski said “for each of the last four years, our cadet leadership took on the challenge of beating the previous years’ record for community service hours – and did it.” The Caesar Rodney JROTC group are the known go to work force tor those in Kent County looking for able bodied volunteers. Each year, these students participate in events like the Southern Delaware Heartwalk, and Delaware Special Olympics as well as serving as a color guard at any event requested. When a request comes in for their help, senior cadets take on the lead, brief the other cadets and then post a signup sheet. The cadets perform all necessary coordination with the requesting organization and their service is so significant that some events have acknowledged that they simply couldn’t happen without the support of these student cadets.

 
Clover Knights 4H Club
Sussex County

The Clover Knights 4H Club are well known for their service activities throughout Sussex County. Nominator Michele Fidance said “What lies within the hearts of these youth volunteers is their love of giving back. They have a strong commitment to the community in which they live…” In 2019, Clover Knights committed well over 400 hours of service. After several years of caroling and making cards for residents at Harrison House in Georgetown, the Clover Knights decided they wanted to do more. They decided to ask the residents what they wanted for Christmas and see if they could deliver those Christmas wishes. After much planning, fundraising and discussions with the staff, the Clover Knights were able to gather the wishes of 131 residents. The lists were reviewed and approved by staff and then the members began shopping, wrapping and sorting gifts. On December 22nd and 23rd, members of the Clover nights delivered cards, sang carols and delivered gifts to the residents. Fulfilling the wishes of these seniors at Christmas delivered holiday joy not only to the residents but to all the staff and families involved. The Clover Knights have also worked closely with adopt-a-highway, coastal cleanup, the Delaware Veterans Home, Stockings for Soldiers and the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware.

 
Conrad School of Math and Science Blue Gold Club
New Castle County

The Blue Gold Club at the Conrad School of Math and Science made a clear impact last year with more than 550 hours of service to their community. Their focus on supporting awareness for individuals living with intellectual disabilities has played a vital role in enriching the lives of Delawareans through fundraising campaigns, the Blue Gold All Star Buddies program and participating in the National Campaign “Spread the Word to End the Word.” By selling Blue-Gold Shirts, the group raised more than $2,500 for the Down Syndrome Association walk and participated in the Rock Your Socks national campaign for Down Syndrome Awareness. It is their work with the All-Star Buddies program that gives members of the Blue Gold Club the most joy. This program matches members of the club with a “buddy” who is a child or adult living with an intellectual disability. Through this program, members have hosted ice cream socials, gone on hay rides, hosted picnics, gone to local events and sometimes just hang out and talk. Nominator Michele Fidance said, “these teens are standing up for inclusion and respect for all at school and in their communities.”

 
Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Troop 454
Sussex County

One of the biggest projects for the Girl Scouts of the Chesapeake Bay Troop 454 is the Girl Scouts Cookie Program. It is about more than just great tasting cookies. The Girls Scout Cooke Program allows the girls to learn essential skills such as, decision- making, goal setting, money management and teamwork.  Every girl is encouraged to set and work toward achieving both a team and personal goal. Cookie sales raise funds to support troop and council activities. There is an inspiring story in every box. The “Wrapping for a Cause “project is another favorite of Troop 454. During the holiday season the girls wrapped gifts at the Rehoboth Walmart. All donations they received from this project were donated to Cape Henlopen’s children and families in crisis fund. All the girls live close to the beach, they have learned at a young age the importance of taking care of nature. They participate in beach grass planting, coastal cleanup and, created a pollinator garden at Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge. The seniors in Girl Scout Troop 454 select a project to earn the Girl Scout Bronze Award—the highest honor a Junior can achieve. They chose to work with children with special needs at the Southern Delaware Therapeutic Riding Center. Horses are used to achieve physical and social goals. Keeping the barns clean is an essential to ensure the safety and health of the horses. The girls in the troop spent time cleaning the stalls to ensure the stalls were clean to prevent the horses from getting sick. They strive to make their little piece of the state a better place.

 
Jewish Teen Philanthropy Initiative 
New Castle County

The Jewish Teen Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of Delaware Initiative offers high school teens the opportunity to take the reins when it comes to charitable giving. Learning and applying Jewish values of charity, community and healing the world, local teens created and participated in the Jewish Community Day of Giving, held on Martin Luther King Day. The group chose to partner with Child Inc. a non-profit organization that offers prevention, treatment, emergency shelter and advocacy services that strengthen families. The group decided they were going to build a library for those living in shelters and foster care, fill blessing bags with essentials, make no sew blankets for children living in shelters and, brighten the lives of so many others through door decorating and making cards colored by participants of the event. The success of this project was a result of the planning and preparation that took place months before the event. Four bookshelves were built and decorated, over 100 blessing bags were made, 150 doorways at the Kutz Senior Living Campus now have beautiful decorations to remind our seniors they are valued and appreciated. Blankets to keep children warm were crafted and pantry shelves have been filled. Over 150 community members participated to honor the legacy of Rev Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. a man who fought tirelessly for racial justice and led thousands of others in struggle.

 
Ronald McDonald House of Delaware Youth Leadership Council
New Castle County

The Ronald McDonald House of Delaware Youth Leadership Council is comprised of high school students from local high schools with a goal of “learning and practicing essential leadership and communication skills while raising awareness and funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware and its programs.” 9 members from 5 local schools completed 439 hours of service to the organization in 2019 including volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House, attending committee meetings, planning and hosting in-house events for families and fundraising on behalf of the organization. In late 2019, the Youth Leadership Council created a “Share a Night” fundraising event which well surpassed their initial goals and raised over $2,100. Through this fundraiser, council members strive to collect increments of $15 to help cover the requested nightly donation for families staying at the house in times of need. Through their efforts last year, the council was able to cover the cost of roughly a 4.5 month stay at the Ronald McDonald House or roughly 140 individual nights. Nominator Sarah Sommer said of the group “both together and individually, all council members have shown great determination and that the sky is truly the limit when it comes to setting a goal and seeing it through.”

 
Stop the Violence Prayer Chain
New Castle County

Performing acts of kindness each week is an integral part of the Stop the Violence Prayer Chain program. Children learn how to get along with each other and their family members and especially in school without resorting to the violence they see all around them.  Stop the Violence Prayer Chain children perform at least one act of kindness each week. They participate in four big yearly events, the Spring/Easter dinner and egg hunt; the Backpack Giveaway of free backpacks with school supplies, the Thanksgiving Family and Community Dinner and, the Christmas Party and Toy Giveaway the week before the holiday. The children plan, prepare and participate actively in these events. They enjoy visiting the seniors at nursing homes in Wilmington throughout the year. The children bring such happiness, energy, and joy that the residents often cry when they give the seniors hugs, smiles and little gifts or snacks they made. These children live in the most violent and poverty-stricken but have learned to bring such altruistic happiness to the seniors. They make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bring them to the nearby Sunday Breakfast Mission to give to the homeless. In the winter, the children take food and bring blankets and coats directly to the homeless. The children frequently request to gather for prayers and give their own special children's prayers to stop the violence. They see the happiness and smiles that their interactions have on other children and adults.

 
Wilmington Youth Leadership Commission
New Castle County

The Wilmington Youth Leadership Commission is a collaborative body represented by youth leaders committed to developing into the next generation of leaders, public servants, and future professionals in the City of Wilmington. They serve as advocates for youth in the city of Wilmington and address concerns with elected officials to create solutions. The group identified a need for HIV prevention education and the importance of focusing on the linkage of personal behavior to HIV and Aids. The group spoke with high school students throughout New Castle County and received over 7,000 pledges from youth and young adults to be tested for HIV/AIDS. They organized a beatification project in a Wilmington neighborhood community park where they cleaned up the streets of a highly littered neighborhood and community park. In addition to cleanup, the group planted fifty trees throughout the City of Wilmington to promote a more attractive welcoming community. The members of the group work with the Wilmington Police Department and many local and statewide elected officials and presented the Know Your Rights project. Part of this initiative was to encourage youth to avoid negative social media attacks on people in uniform and help to create more positive relationships between youth and law enforcement. The Wilmington Youth Leadership Commission identifies the needs of the City of Wilmington's youth, in addition to the City’s efforts to develop initiatives that promote the advancement of young people in Wilmington.