Youth Service Awards Honor Commitment to Community
November 25, 2010 — Source: Naperville Sun — Author: Jane Donahue
Giving thanks is commonplace this time of year, and Tuesday evening was no exception.
More than a hundred people gathered at the Municipal Center on Tuesday for the 2010 Naperville Youth Service Awards celebration. The annual event recognizes the volunteer efforts of Naperville students and encourages all youth to get involved in their community.
“I hope the kids feel how much they are valued by the city of Naperville for all that they do,” said Katie Russell, KidsMatter program manager. “They are making an impact on the lives of others in their community, even at such young ages. I feel thankful to live in a community where kids take the initiative to help others. These young people give me great confidence that we have a bright future both locally and globally.”
KidsMatter, along with Mayor A. George Pradel and the Naperville City Council, honored 21 teens from the community for their volunteer efforts. Nominations came from local organizations and agencies that specifically provide young people with opportunities to volunteer their time and energy.
Before the ceremony, each council member and Pradel shared personal stories of early service. The mayor said he is amazed at how today’s teens can “govern their time and make things happen.”
“Sometimes we don’t take enough time to look at our youth and really understand them,” said Pradel. “They do so much for our community and really make a difference in our city. To hear their stories just thrills my heart. You look at what they have done and know how much they are going to do for our city, state and country.”
Nick Donnantuono was a recipient of a service award for his volunteer efforts at Loaves & Fishes Community Pantry. The Neuqua Valley student said he enjoys working at the local food pantry, where he has been volunteering for the past year.
“To actually see and work with the people your food donations are going to, it’s very rewarding,” said Donnantuono. “There are a lot of student volunteers, and it is a tremendous honor to be the one that is chosen by the staff at Loaves & Fishes.”
NCO Youth and Family Services recognized two students for their volunteer efforts, Matt Feldmeier and Kristin Doherty. The pair served as directors for Operation Snowball, a teen leadership program that emphasizes making healthy choices.
Barbara and Brian Doherty said it’s an honor to have their daughter recognized for her efforts.
“She is a really hard worker, and they put in a lot of hours,” said Barbara. “She and Matt worked on it for three months solid, and it all went off without a hitch. Kristin is very dedicated to the whole ‘snowball’ philosophy.”
IdaLynn Wenhold, executive director of KidsMatter, said along with honoring the volunteers, the organizations where the students serve should also be honored.
“These organizations have provided our young people with hands-on, ongoing experiences to serve,” said Wenhold. “They make Naperville the thriving community that it is today.”
Following the award ceremony in the City Council chambers, volunteers and their families were invited to a reception dinner provided by Lou Malnati’s of Naperville.