NEW CASTLE (May 8, 2019) – Highlighting the difference that young volunteers make in their communities, Governor John Carney will present the Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Awards to 25 individuals and three groups during a May 14 ceremony 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.”
More than 200 people are expected to join the Governor on May 14 at the Polytech Adult Education Conference Center in Woodside to honor the young volunteers. The awards ceremony begins with a reception at 5 p.m., followed by dinner and the official ceremony.
“Government alone can’t solve the problems we face as a society. Often, we join with the private sector, nonprofits and volunteers to tackle critical issues,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, a board-certified family physician and a regular volunteer. “We are pleased to shine a spotlight on these young people who have embraced volunteering, because we know they are much more likely to continue to volunteer throughout their lives and become that critical community partner we need.”
In 2018, 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 2019 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.
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.
For more information about the awards or volunteer opportunities, go to Volunteer.Delaware.gov, or contact April Willey, Volunteer Service Administrator, at 302-857-5006 or via email at email@example.com.
2019 Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Award Winners
NEW CASTLE COUNTY
Arts & Culture
Nominator: Maureen McAleenan
- Following her grandmother’s stay in a nursing home during the spring of 2016, Margaret “Maggie” Boyd was inspired to start a not-for-profit program called “Recycled Roses.” Maggie collects flowers, which have been used as flower arrangements for weddings and other events, and were to be discarded. She then repurposes those arrangements into smaller groups and delivers the new arrangements to local nursing homes for residents to enjoy. In addition to brightening the nursing care facilities for both staff and residents, Maggie is extending the “life” of the flowers, which also helps to reduce waste and environmental impact. Starting out by reaching out to friends and family with upcoming events that included flower arrangements, Maggie has since created business cards and various social media accounts to advertise this free service. She now works with several local florists, as well as nursing home staff, to schedule pick-ups and deliveries that won’t interfere with the events or disrupt the nursing home schedules. Beyond Recycled Roses, Maggie also bakes monthly for St Joseph’s on the Brandywine’s Emmanuel Dining Hall, volunteered for Ronald McDonald House, and is both a Lector and Eucharistic minister at her church and at her school, Ursuline Academy.
Nominator: Rev. Shanikia Perry
- High school prom season is an exciting time for many teenagers. For some, however, the expensive nature of prom, including tickets, after-prom party costs, attire, shoes, accessories, and transportation, leaves students from less-affluent families and communities simply unable to afford this rite of passage. Destiney Skinner, then a sophomore at Tower Hill School in Wilmington and a lifelong Girl Scout of Troop 1790, saw this first hand in the Compton Village neighborhood where she grew up. In response to this observation and looking for a philanthropic venture for her senior Girl Scout project, Destiney started “Say Yes to the Prom Dress.” Posting requests for dress donations on social media and in store windows led Destiney to gathering over 300 dresses. Destiney, now a senior in high school, focused on providing dresses to young ladies in foster care, who were differently abled, affected by domestic violence or had financial barriers to obtaining a dress of their own. Last April, 50 young ladies were invited to come “shop” for dresses at the giveaway at her church for the afternoon. Destiney was also able to connect with a make-up artist who donated her time with many of the girls.
Nominator: Mary Devine
- During the school week, 14-year-old Isabelle Butts focuses on her classes at Skyline Middle School in Wilmington and prepares to matriculate to Delaware Military Academy this coming fall. Each Saturday and Sunday, however, Isabelle can be found at Carousel Park and Equestrian Center where she has parlayed her passion for horses into volunteering with the horseback riding program there, often from dawn to dusk. Carousel Park and Equestrian Center, located in New Castle County, offers riding lessons to able bodied and therapeutic riders. Isabelle primarily works directly with children as they learn all aspects of good horsemanship. She performs her task quickly, eagerly and with the utmost attention to safety standards in regard to horse handling. She also grooms and walks horses, mucks stalls, prepares horses for riding lessons, assists with ongoing horse training and has become a staple for the Carousel Park’s summer and winter camps. During her time volunteering at Carousel Park, Isabelle has become someone the instructors can rely on as she serves as a role model for the young students, teaching and helping them care for horses more than twice the size of the children. In addition, Isabelle is well respected by the barn staff and part-time staff often mirror her work ethic.
Marco Giovani Caba-Acevedo
Nominator: Brunilda Mercado
- Marco Caba-Acevedo is an exceptional young man doing exceptional things, and leaving a legacy of love and compassion. For the past three years, Marco has volunteered for Hope for Homeless, addressing and bringing awareness about hunger in his community and by serving the hungry and helping to meet their physical needs, as well. He actively requests donations from the community, local businesses, family members, friends, neighbors and peers, resulting in the donations being able to create both hot and cold meals to feed people who are homeless. Every other Saturday, he cooked and prepared hot meals, built sandwich boxes, and created hygiene baggies for people who are homeless, which were distributed throughout Wilmington and New Castle. Inside the baggie were disposable toothbrushes, dental floss, hand wipes, socks, gloves and a hat that he helped to collect. Additionally, he collected new and gently used blankets and sweatshirts. Marco also has volunteered at the Wilmington Hispanic Festival, helping to build floats, set up vendor tables and music equipment, monitor the moon bounce, pick up trash and help to run the water station.
Ryan Jose Caba-Acevedo
Nominator: Brunilda Mercado
- Ryan Cabo-Acevedo is a young man of great integrity and a heart of gold who demonstrates wholeheartedly his belief in community and the impact volunteerism has on society as a whole. He volunteers with TEEN Sharp, an organization that gives low-income, black, and Latino youth access to premier leadership opportunities. Ryan also provided assistance with administrative support for the 2018 Delaware Hispanic Commission-Latino Summit. He provided support with data entry, copies, follow-up phone calls and organizational support. The support he provided was crucial, as we not only had over 700 attendees, plus over more than 100 sponsors and various media outlets. His assistance was crucial by providing much needed administrative support. He was able to assist in organizing and responding to requests from interested businesses via emails and phone calls. He also created organizational charts for the sponsors and exhibitors, followed up with emails to organizations that ended up becoming paid sponsors. In addition, Ryan has been volunteering in many disenfranchised communities within Wilmington, feeding people who are homeless, advocating for changes to criminal justice reform, working with youth and fostering positive relationships. Ryan is dedicated not only to improving himself, but also is strongly committed to his community and making it stronger and better for everyone, devoting several years to serving those in need in New Castle County.
Nominator: Brittany Borgese
- Faithful Friends Animal Society is a private, nonprofit animal welfare organization that relies heavily on volunteers to assist in providing care for hundreds of cats and dogs annually. Over the past two years, 13-year-old Natalie Carr has become an example of the dedicated service supplied by Faithful Friends’ volunteers and has become an invaluable member of the team. Natalie and her family provide foster care to dogs and also provide long-term foster care to 8-week-old kittens, including leash training the kittens. Natalie, along with her family and the leash-trained kittens, have joined Faithful Friends’ Pet Therapy Program, which visits nursing care facilities, bringing joy to people who can no longer have pets of their own. She also supports Faith Friends’ Vaccine Clinics, assists at fundraising and adoption events throughout the year, helps with socializing the adoptable animals, advocating for the shelter and performing all tasks at the shelter that her age will allow. Natalie’s maturity, dedication and abilities make her an asset to the staff, fellow volunteers, members of the community who visit Faithful Friends and, most importantly, to the hundreds of animals that come through the doors of the shelter each year in need of help or their forever home.
Nominator: Dashia Saunders
- Joseph Tew is a dedicated volunteer of the Claymont Library. The Christiana High School Honor’s Academy student began by shelving books and removing items that no longer were in circulation. However, due to his attention to detail and ability to work independently, Joseph was soon given more complicated tasks and became a volunteer the library staff has come to rely on for his assistance. Joseph has helped develop and run programs for children and teens on subjects designed to encourage attendance and use of the public library by younger members of the Claymont community. He assisted with Harry Potter-themed programs, a Mini Comic Con, and STEM programs. Joseph taught himself how to code a robot so he could assist with the robotics station and show library patrons one of the many services available to them. He was instrumental in revamping the Graphic Novels collection, making it more eye-catching and easier to browse. Joseph’s volunteer service to Claymont Library extends to the grounds, where he pulled weeds from the library garden and patio so that a nearby local daycare facility could have outside picnics. Even when he doesn’t have an official assigned volunteer task, Joseph can be found assisting younger library patrons in the Children’s Room or providing assistance to other teens practicing chess in the Teen Area.
Nominator: Nichelle Polston
- Jacqueline Means lives in the Southbridge section of Wilmington, where more than 60 percent of students drop out of school instead of graduating. She decided to start a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program to provide a different picture of what life could be to those who were only seeing one of limited potential. Jacqueline started a program called Wilmington Urban STEM Initiative, which brings STEM curriculum to under-privileged girls in Wilmington. She created a fun, creative means to get girls involved with STEM by doing hands-on science experiments like making alginate worms, snow, slime and dry-ice ice cream. Jaqueline also incorporated an interactive anti-bullying demonstration and built in social media awareness program into her events. Her aim is to inspire a younger generation of girls to pursue education and careers in STEM fields for the betterment of everyone. She also has brought in prominent female members of the Wilmington community, like Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester and Wilmington City Treasurer Velda Jones Potter, so the girls can see women of color in prestigious careers using their positions in the service of others. Jacqueline also partners with organizations within the Wilmington community like Microsoft, Chemours, Brew HaHa! and the Delaware Children’s Museum to showcase the different fields that open up with a STEM education background.
Nominator: Dr. Scott Caplan
- Sabin Lowe, a student at Newark Charter School, regularly volunteers his time to a wide variety of environmental initiatives in his community. After learning about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest accumulation of plastic garbage n the word, he decided to work to reduce waste locally and to also promote environmental awareness, with a goal of change at the local and legislative level. He organized and held local meetings and marches, along with bi-weekly cleanups, collecting more than 3,000 pounds of trash and recycling in the past year. Sabin also works with local businesses to limit the use of plastic straws, helping to reduce his community’s straw use by an estimated 20,000 straws per day. He has been asked to speak at multiple events, including the first Delaware Youth Climate Summit, and to social justice groups, where he speaks about his passion to protect the environment. On a legislative level, Sabin has worked directly with city and state legislators, lobbying for environmentally focused legislation. Although most of his volunteer hours have been in Delaware, Sabin also spent five weeks in Spain volunteering through an organization called HelpX, where he spent two weeks teaching English to youth and spent his remaining time helping a family clear their property of trash and repair roofs on deteriorating structures.
Health and Special Needs
Nominator: Meghan Pasricha
- Since 2011, Aman Singh has been a committed and dedicated volunteer with Global Youth H.E.L.P., whose mission is to develop a global network of passionate youth leaders dedicated to creating positive change through health, education, and leadership programs. Now a 17-year-old student at the Charter School of Wilmington, Aman’s service efforts have made a significant, positive impact on two local institutions, Sojourner’s Place and the YWCA Home Life Center. He fundraised, purchased items, and organized a team to prepare gender-specific health and hygiene packages to underprivileged children and adults during the holiday season. He then coordinated with the organization supporting these individuals to determine and ensure a schedule that got the packages delivered in time for the holidays. Aman is also an active team member of several annual service projects, including a backpack donation program that assists in getting supplies to underprivileged children that they need for school. His passion for serving others and providing access to health care has led him to a program with Johns Hopkins University where he conducted research on Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which culminated in Aman joining a two-week medical mission to Peru. Working alongside doctors and medical students at pop-up clinics, Aman also acted as a translator for both doctors and patients.
Nominator: Michele P. Fidance
- MOT Charter Academy student Sammi Mitchell came up with Sammi’s Service Stampede at the age of nine. She became aware of a need for clean socks for people experiencing homelessness while volunteering at a Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. service project. She knew there were many groups and individuals working to feed the hungry, but Sammi wanted to focus on a seemingly underserved need and her idea of collecting clean socks was born. In her first year of outreach, Sammi successfully collected over 4,000 pairs of socks, which were donated to homeless shelters throughout Delaware. She collaborated with the Clothing Bank of Delaware so that volunteers could come together to sort and pack the socks for distribution. She used social media to help people to register to assist with this project and her Sammi’s Service Stampede engaged children, adults and entire families to volunteer. Upon learning about another Delaware-based outreach program called Buckets of Love, which donates buckets filled with toys to children receiving medical care, residing in homeless shelters or are otherwise facing a difficult situation, Sammi decided she wanted to support that endeavor as well. She turned to her school for support and, with her classmates’ assistance, the MOT Charter Academy was able to collect enough material to pack 807 buckets.
Nominator: Mary Kay Wilson
- Alivia has worn many hats at Mom’s House Wilmington, an organization whose primary mission is to empower single parents to complete their education. Alivia has volunteered at Mom’s House for six years and spends a majority of her time interacting with children in the Early Education Center. Her impact has been most evident in the love the children have for Alivia. Every day she arrives, she greets each child letting them know they are each special to her. Alivia is a true success story of the organization; a child of a single mother, who attended college while raising her daughter alone. Alivia has grown into a role model for many current families associated with Moms House. In addition to the hours she spends at Mom’s House, she has done work at United Cerebral Palsy, SPCA, Brandywine Zoo and Special Olympics Delaware, just to name a few. She exemplifies what it means to be an advocate for the community. She not only volunteers at Mom’s House, she immerses herself into the organization and truly understands the mission.
Nominator: Elaine Webb
- Since 2010, if a need has been presented to the Peach Blossom 4-H Club in Greenwood, there is a very good chance that Maci Carter is one of the members responding. Now a 17-year-old Lake Forest High School student, Maci has been a positive, committed, dependable volunteer in her community. She has volunteered with the Delaware State Fair, Coastal Cleanup, Delaware Food Bank and raised money supporting several local nonprofit organizations. As a Kent County 4-H Junior Council member, she has volunteered as a summer camp counselor and served on multiple committees in service to others. Beyond the Peach Blossom 4-H Club, Maci serves as Class Vice President and holds the office of Sentinel in the Lake Forest Future Farmers of America. These roles have led her to even more volunteer service within her school district, including mentoring younger students and supporting numerous school-based activities. Whether it is leading a workshop, helping stock food pantries, baking cookies for prisoners with her youth group at Manship Chapel or creating an action plan about the effects of vaping on teenagers, if Maci sees a need, she works with others to ensure that the need is being met with enthusiasm and compassion.
William “Liam” Bush
Nominator: Krissy Hall
- William “Liam” Bush founded Freeware4Kids, a nonprofit organization to get chromebooks into the hands of students in need to help them with their schoolwork in the Caesar Rodney School District. He reached out to school, state and community organizations to collect old laptops that were headed for scrap in landfills. To secure devices, Liam set up face-to-face meetings with the Caesar Rodney School District Technology Coordinator, leadership at Delaware Electric Cooperative and the State of Delaware Department of Technology and Innovation. Liam then cleaned up these Windows-based devices and converted them into Chrome OS devices using Cloud-ready software. So far, Liam has scheduled and executed five pick-up distribution days and has handed out over 150 devices to students. Many of the students had access to Wi-Fi, just not a device of their own. Now these students are able to complete their schoolwork on their own devices. Most of the beneficiaries of Freeware4kids have been sixth-graders at Fifer Middle School in Camden, with a few chromebooks going to high school students. Freeware4kids is an ongoing service project and Liam is hopeful that with the contacts he has made, thus far, that he can expand in scope to help students in other school districts.
Cassidy Marvel Staats
Nominator: Georgia Vansant
- As a volunteer at Gathering Lambs Child Care Center in Dover, Cassidy Marvel Staats is not only assisting teachers and support staff, she is also helping to transform young children into well-rounded students ready for kindergarten. Cassidy reads to the children during circle time, joins them in role-play, encourages healthy interactions between the children, oversees their activities, ensures child safety and helps clean up and sanitize the toys and play areas. She also helps during lunch and snack time, encouraging the children to learn appropriate independence. Cassidy helps the children learn new skills or master new tasks, giving her young charges a sense of pride, accomplishment and improving their self-esteem, which has the potential for long-lasting positive effects on the children. She works with new volunteers to demonstrate or explain tasks and roles within the Gathering Lambs organization. Cassidy also volunteers with the Lions Club, an international service organization. She serves with their road clean-up project, assisting with trash removal and general area cleanup. Cassidy also volunteers with the Lions Club medical equipment program by sanitizing items, organizing the now-clean equipment and then aiding in delivering the equipment to community members in need of the devices.
Nominator: Shana Galloway
- Olivia Gaines began volunteering at the age of 2 when she accompanied her mother, Kim, as she participated in a Friends of Mount Olive Cemetery clean-up. Now a student at Caesar Rodney High School, Olivia continues her family tradition of volunteerism and continues to find a wealth of service opportunities within her school and local community. Her primary volunteer hours are through serving as the Vice President of the local 4-H club through which she participated in local collection drives to provide food, clothing and toys at the holidays for needy children. She also has volunteered for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive, served as a counselor at day camps and participated in many other projects. Olivia also devotes hours of volunteer service through school. She is on the Executive Committee of the Caesar Rodney High School chapter of Future Farmers of America through which she has volunteered at multiple fundraisers, as a Farm Bureau Volunteer and set up pens at the Delaware Livestock Exposition. She also participates in multiple high school athletic programs, which offer her additional volunteer opportunities, including fundraising and mentoring fellow student athletes. Finally, Olivia continues the family tradition and can still be found participating in the Friends of Mount Olive Cemetery cleanups.
Arlene B. Coseglia
Nominator: Christin Michaud
- Arlene Coseglia’s volunteer service began at age 8 while helping her mother at the Dover Century Club to plan, organize and run a Christmas party for military children separated from a parent due to military deployment. When Arlene learned that she could earn credit for school by volunteering she began to officially track and register the many hours she was accumulating through her volunteer service. She has worked with nine different agencies to serve her community in a myriad of capacities, but the majority of Arlene’s time is spent supporting military families assigned to the Dover Air Force Base. Arlene’s volunteer efforts range from hosting an array of holiday activities for military families, to registering family members and distributing resource materials during Month of the Military Child to serving as a Youth mentor for Kids in Touch with Kids Sponsorship program, which helps to ease the transition for new families being assigned to Dover Air Force Base. Beyond volunteer service to the military, Arlene also volunteers at the Delaware Food Bank with its Backpack Program and performs work for the ARCC of Delaware, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to advocating for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Arlene reflects the core values cherished in the military: Integrity First, Service before Self and Excellence in All We Do.
Nominator: Michele P. Fidance
- For Enzo Vincent, a pair of pajamas is more than sleepwear. Comfortable pajamas represent safety, security and warmth to the 7-year-old. A desire to instill that feeling in other children has led to a service project, Enzo’s Pajama Drive for Hope, through which Enzo collects pajamas to deliver to children in need during the holiday season. Beginning with requests for donations of pajamas from family and friends, Enzo soon began receiving donated sleepwear from local businesses and a social media profile was created to reach additional prospective donors. An initial goal of 3,000 pajamas was passed easily once donations of pajamas started coming in from as far away as Florida, Texas, Maine and even Canada. Enzo’s mother, Danielle, will contact local school nurses and guidance counselors in Camden-Wyoming to get a list of children who would benefit from a new pair of pajamas, which is accompanied by a note from Enzo telling the recipient that they are prayed for and loved. The children and the family of the children receiving the pajamas are not the only people impacted by Enzo’s Pajama Drive for Hope. Many of the donors connected to this project were grateful to be able to participate, especially during the holiday season.
Laura Lin Comollo
Nominator: Abby Stewart
- For the past five years, Laura Lin Comollo has been a faithful and consistent volunteer with the Embrace Program through Arise Delaware. Arise Delaware, a community development and advocacy nonprofit organization in Dover, focuses on individuals affected by disability and their family/support system. The Embrace Program creates opportunities for relationships between friends with disabilities, their families and the community. Laura Lin serves as a one-on-one buddy to children with disabilities through Arise’s monthly respite program, after-school project and day camp. She takes the time to learn about the children prior to meeting them and assists them in various activities like dinner, games and crafts to help with building social skills. Laura Lin is often early for events to ensure everything is set up and ready and usually stays late, helping with cleanup. She also has been a great recruiter for Arise Delaware and its Embrace Program, by inviting other students her age to help at events and learn about volunteer opportunities for the newcomers. She then leads them through the process of becoming a volunteer and ensures that they, too, are ready and equipped to serve. Laura Lin’s extremely qualified and dedicated volunteer service to Arise Delaware has made it possible for the Embrace Program to serve many more friends with disabilities and their families.
Nominator: Kevin L. Wilson
- James joined the Clayton Fire Company No. 1 in November of 2017 as a junior member. In 2018, James responded to 251 out of 358 fire calls. Along with his fire call responses, James attended 16 out of 28 company trainings, 32 uniform functions, which include events such as parades and funerals, and 46 miscellaneous events for a total of 432 points, which placed him in the top 10 members for points in 2018. James attends every fire he can and, when not at the station for an emergency, he is always willing to help. In March, James was awarded four Hurst Rescue Tool Awards and a CRP Save Award. James has established himself as a leader by the way he conducts himself at the station. He is a great example of what other youth should aspire to be and is part of something bigger than he is. James places his life on the line every time he responds to a fire call and he demonstrated commitment to excellence by attending trainings and proving himself at incidents.
Health and Special Needs
Nominator: Michele P. Fidance
- As a resident of Seaford with a younger sibling who has Down syndrome, Adrianna Cannon found it difficult to attend events in support of Down syndrome, as most were held in New Castle County. The Sussex Tech High School student approached her principal and teachers about holding a Rock Your Socks event locally, so other Southern Delaware residents could participate as well. Rock Your Socks is held in conjunction with Down Syndrome Awareness Day, which facilitates inclusion and raises awareness of Down syndrome through participants wearing brightly colored mismatched socks. Adrianna received permission to hold her first event in the cafeteria of Sussex Tech High School in Georgetown, in which over 50 volunteers came together to sort, mismatch and package over 2,000 pairs of socks. Adrianna enlisted additional fundraising help from teachers, nursing students, and student athletes from Sussex Tech to sell over 200 socks to wear. Adrianna spearheaded this wildly successful volunteer opportunity by engaging peer support, community involvement, support from school administrators and the Down Syndrome Association of Delaware. Her goal is to turn this into an annual event for her community, increase the number of socks sold and add a Sock Hop Dance, where people with Down syndrome could attend at no cost.
Morgan Leigh Wright
Nominator: Desiree J. Moore
- Morgan Wright is an active community leader who believes that everyone should have access to food and clean water, and enjoy quality of life, meaning achieving a general sense of well-being. She has spent the last year collecting for, stocking, managing and cleaning a local food pantry, the Wildcat Wellness Pantry. Supported by students, staff and partners of Delmar High School, the pantry has become an integral part of the local community. Beyond stocking and maintaining the pantry, the students also have annual fundraisers to help with the utility costs. Morgan also volunteers at the Lil’ Red Hen Early Learning Center, where she provides fun activities for the young students, helping the staff encourage and nurture their charges. Morgan also has developed caring relationships with people at the other end of the age spectrum, as she volunteers her time and energy with the senior residents of Delmar Crossing Villas. She brainstormed different fundraising ideas to get hats, gloves, scarves and throw blankets to give to the seniors. Morgan planned and organized a day for herself and her fellow students to visit with the seniors and give the seniors the donated items. Plans are in the works to continue these visits.
Madeline Jo Betts
Nominator: Jovani O’Grady
- For Madeline Jo Betts, service to others was instilled in her and is an integral part of her identity. Her primary focus is in serving children and youth in her community. She does this through math tutoring, assisting with stage productions at the local elementary and middle schools, fundraising for a local preschool, serving as a group leader at the Bethel United Methodist Church Vacation Bible School and as a member of the Delaware Community Foundation Youth Philanthropy Board. Her goals in working with children are as varied as the volunteer service itself. She hopes her efforts result in higher self-esteem for her young charges, and she also looks to her service as a means of combatting bullying. When not volunteering with children, Madeline broadens her focus to contribute positively to her surrounding community. Her service includes encouraging citizens to vote on Election Day, volunteering at a variety of local community theater events and film festivals, and with the Cape Henlopen State Park Fantasy Trail. Among the many other organizations that benefit from her time are the Possum Point Players, the Cape Henlopen School District and the Delaware Democratic Party. Madeline prioritizes volunteering at local events that bring the community close together, because a tight-knit community is a stronger, healthier community for all.
Benny J. Collazo (Jacob)
Nominator: E. Lee Clarkson
- Benny is a volunteer assistant instructor at Delaware Tang Soo Do Academy. Through his volunteer work, he has helped 7- to 12-year-olds learn karate skills, helps them develop respect, self-control, focus, perseverance, confidence, good work habits, a positive attitude and a passion for physical activity. Along with this, he has helped teens and adults from the community learn self-defense skills to carry them throughout their lives. The assistance offered during the classes enables the instructor to keep the class on schedule and focused. When asked why he volunteers, his reply was, “It is teaching me as much as it is them. It gives me great confidence to be able to contribute what I can into each of their lives, to know that the thing they learn here will give them the confidence and discipline they will need when life gets harder for them. It is a significant thing to be able to give to the community in this way. The things these young people learn will stick with them and make them safer. Understanding that gives me pride in what I do and shows what we at Delaware Tang Soo Doo Academy represent.”
Rylie June Maedler
Nominator: Maggie Fauver
- Rylie began volunteering to help pediatric cancer patients in 2014 and founded Rylie’s Smile Foundation, with the hope of bringing a smile to other children. Her activities consistently involve organizing, participating in and fundraising for events geared to support children and their families who are facing serious illness. Rylie’s volunteer activity places strong emphasis on education and spreading awareness of pediatric diseases and alternative treatments such as cannabinoid therapy. She has actively pursued amending legislation and, in the past, successfully had Rylie’s Law and SB 181 passed into law. She has spent numerous hours throughout the years advocating for patients in Delaware through education and legislation. However, Rylie did not stop there. She has made numerous national and international trips to provide education, as her goal is to remove obstacles that other children are facing when it comes to medicine she credits with saving her life. At the age of 13, she has paved the way so that others do not have to overcome the same struggles and obstacles that she has already conquered.
NEW CASTLE COUNTY
McKean High School Best Buddies
Nominator: Michele P. Fidance
- Each year, Thomas McKean High School in Wilmington hosts Meadowood Program students for their high school year. The Meadowood Program serves students ages 3 through 21 with moderate to severe disabilities within the Red Clay Consolidated School District. Students from McKean High School are matched with students from the Meadowood Program as part of McKean’s Best Buddies Club, which promotes inclusion and acceptance of all students, regardless of ability, race or economic status. The Best Buddies Club signature event each year is the annual Best Buddy Ball. This yearly project is completed entirely by the McKean High School students, with minimal assistance from staff or parents. This past January, the cafeteria of McKean High School was transformed into a Winter Wonderland for the 2019 Best Buddy Ball. The McKean High School students determined early on that they did not want cost to be a deterrent for anyone to attend and worked diligently to secure donations of money, items and services to pull off one of the best attended dances yet. More than 100 students of McKean High School and the Meadowood Program attended the Best Buddy Ball, that included a professional DJ, a photo booth, dinner, desserts and winter-themed decorations, all provided through the diligent efforts of the McKean High School Best Buddies Club.
Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club
Health and Special Needs
Nominator: Heather Crouse
- The Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club is a group of 59 children, spanning from ages 5 to 17, who perform services that help those in need by showing people who are lonely that others care about them and by maintaining and improving the environment. In 2018 alone, members collectively spent over 4,000 hours in service to others. They made tray favors for nearby hospitals, veterans’ homes and local nursing homes. They made over 500 Get Well packets for child and adult patients, as well as handmade Get Well Soon cards to be given to patients not receiving mail. The Sunshine 4-H Club members visit a local nursing home monthly to play bingo and make crafts with the residents. They volunteer at and fundraise for a number of Harrington nonprofit organizations. Christmas is brighter for students in need, soldiers and other members of the community, as members of the Sunshine 4-H Club send cards, fill stockings and decorate trees. At other times of the year, the Sunshine 4-H Club can be found providing petting zoos, participating in a beach cleanup and collecting donations to assist local community organizations. Through their volunteer service, members of the Harrington Sunshine 4-H Club are developing into strong leaders and better citizens for the future.
Seaford Middle School Builders Club
Nominator: Daphne Coulbourn
- The Seaford Middle School Builders Club is a group of 50 seventh- and eighth-grade students who perform various volunteer activities throughout the year. The students, ranging in age from 11 to 14, use the different volunteer opportunities to improve their school environment, provide outreach to their community and, ultimately, strengthen relationships of those who live in their community or attend their school. The students donated to hospitalized and/or children who are homeless via donations to Buckets of Love, which generated 100 buckets, provided Christmas (including presents and a full holiday dinner) to two families, offered their time and attention to residents at a local nursing home, participated in Police Officer Appreciation Day, sorted socks for a Rock Your Socks activity, and raised funds for cancer awareness and research in the memory of a veteran teacher who had succumbed after a long battle with cancer. The Seaford Middle School Builders Club leads by example and offers strong peer support to their teachers and the surrounding community. The reach of these students goes far beyond the walls of their school and the impact is long lasting, showing that these young people are committed to making a difference in their community.