Gov. John Carney presented the Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Awards to eight young people and six groups during a May 24 ceremony in recognition of their service to Delaware.

The 2018 award recipients participated in activities such as raising funds for dozens of local nonprofits, helping fellow classmates to prepare for college, cleaning up local waterways and advocating for vulnerable populations including people who are homeless, veterans and children in medical settings. The honorees are representative of Delaware’s young people who are making a positive contribution to society and inspiring others to do the same.

Julles Stevenson, of New Castle County, arts and culture, was nominated by Eileen Boyle and Angela Williamson. With an interest in plant science and environmental studies, Stevenson spent 100 hours volunteering at Hagley Museum and Library in 2017. In addition to being assigned tasks typically reserved for adults, Stevenson assisted in the E.I. du Pont Garden, functioned as a summer camp counselor, volunteered at some special events and worked in the Volunteer Manager’s office. She assisted in seed starting the greenhouses, planted summer and fall crops and built large compost piles. Stevenson offered new ideas and showed a clear perspective on how she plans to use her talent and enthusiasm to make a difference in the environment. Her knowledge, hard work and plethora of ideas to move Delaware forward in improving local and statewide environmental programs was an impressive contribution to Hagley Museum and Library.

Jacquelyn Janocha, of New Castle County, community service, was nominated by Courtney O’Connor. Displaying a consistent and sincere desire to help others, Janocha has volunteered hundreds of hours to multiple nonprofit organizations. She has been a fundraiser for the National Alliance on Mental Illness Delaware since 2015 and recently coordinated an awareness and fundraising campaign at her school, Cab Calloway School of the Arts. She developed a bracelet design — the sales of which were donated to NAMI Delaware — that included crisis service information and also arranged to have a NAMI Delaware representative speak to the students about mental health concerns in youth. Janocha also spent close to 100 hours in 2017 volunteering at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, for which she also did fundraising. Beyond that, Janocha participated in the 2016 and 2017 summer Mission to Maine trips where she and others provide hands-on support to residents who need home repairs and want to maintain their homes, but cannot do so without support.

— Domenica Proud, of New Castle County, community service, was nominated by Mallory Stratton. For the past four years, Proud’s leadership skills and volunteer ethic have had a wide reach that touches many organizations and individuals in the greater Wilmington community focused on Delaware’s children in need. She has spent hundreds of hours in service to others and helped to raise thousands of dollars in support of pediatric cancer research. Some of the organizations Proud has partnered with include Waggies by Maggie and Friends, Candlelighters Organization, the Jack Langseder 4evR Strong Foundation, Nemours’ Runway for Research, Norman Oliver’s Turkey Drive, American Heart Association Heart Ball, Leading Youth Through Empowerment, Kind to Kids Foundation and the Andrew McDonough B+ Foundation. In addition to supporting these organizations, the Charter School of Wilmington student also encourages volunteerism within her own school community and volunteers with the Chicks with Sticks Field Hockey Camp and SMART Summer STEM Camp.

Naheem Watson, of New Castle County, education, was nominated by Gabrielle Thomas. While participating in a college preparatory program known as TeenSHARP, Watson used his skills to create a college access program called BeSHARP for other school programs to use throughout the state. Watson completed a total of 20 sessions encompassing many different college tips useful for college prep students to access and use. His work has helped many students start new programs in their schools without having to spend a lot of time preparing the curriculum themselves, resulting in students getting into the program much faster and more efficiently. He extended his commitment into the school year and planned college tours for students interested in Princeton University and Rutgers University. Watson volunteered more than 260 hours in 2017 helping other students prepare for college.

William Maxwell Kichline, of Sussex County, environment, was nominated by John McCarthy. Kichline has spent the past two summers becoming a valued member of the Cultural Resources Unit of Delaware State Parks’ Programming and Operations Section’s Time Traveler volunteer program. The Time Traveler program provides opportunities for the public to engage in archaeological and other heritage program work in Delaware’s State Parks. This work is vital to identifying and managing non-renewable cultural properties so that the stories of the people who once lived on our park lands can be shared with the public to enhance appreciation of history, the resources connected to that history and cultural heritage preservation. Kichline accumulated almost 275 hours conducting archaeological fieldwork: manual excavation with hand tools, screening soil to search for artifacts and properly labeling bags, placing recovered artifacts in bags for further study; and office work: washing and sorting artifacts and copying and scanning notes and reports. He also has assisted in presenting programs to the public during dig days at the Bell House on the Green in Dover and at day camps at White Clay Creek and Brandywine Creek State Parks.

Harrison Noah Copher, of New Castle County, health and special needs, was nominated by Susan M. Beaver. Copher has a commitment to help individuals living with special needs. For the past four years, he has been an advocate and a voice for those who can’t advocate or speak for themselves. In 2017, Copher has spent more than 100 hours working with Gates Relay for Life Team in Elkton, The Sunshine Foundation, Autism Delaware and Sydney’s Super Squad Autism Walk Team. He has organized fundraisers, offered babysitting services at events and volunteered with Autism Delaware.

Harrison Barnes, of Sussex County, human needs, was nominated by Krissy McCluskey. At a young age, Barnes was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and sensory processing disorder. At the age of 12, he discovered BMX racing and he was hooked. BMX Racing gave him an outlet, and Barnes decided that he wanted to help more kids with special needs/special circumstances to find their outlet. In 2016, Barnes founded GearUp, an organization that’s mission is to “Get Kids on Bikes!” with a special focus on introducing more people to BMX. He has recruited volunteer mentors to help kids with special needs learn to ride a bike and started an event called “Grab Life by the Bars.” “Grab Life by the Bars” is marketed specifically to military families, as when a parent is deployed, the simple lesson of teaching a child to ride a bike is one more thing that gets put on hold. Since founding GearUp, Barnes has helped more than 160 children in eight states and has documented more than 450 hours in volunteer service.

Jane C. Lyons, of New Castle County, social justice/advocacy, was nominated by Nancy S. Dietz. Lyons and her brother, Patrick, co-founded Youth Overcoming Obstacles (“YOO”) when they became aware of a childhood friend who was detained at Ferris School for Boys. Their friend’s life had spiraled out of control after unfortunate circumstances that led to his own poor decisions. The siblings began collecting books, clothing and other items to donate for teens who were staying at the Division of Youth Rehabilitative Services Cottages. Through this involvement, Lyons became familiar with the challenges that youth face once they leave secure care and return to their communities and schools. With permission from DYRS, Lyons set up a fund to provide items and needs specific to youth returning to their communities. In the past two-and-a-half years, Lyons has volunteered more than 300 hours fundraising and working on YOO initiatives. In addition to her work with DYRS and YOO, Lyons also volunteers for the Delaware HIV Consortium and the Ministry of Caring.

First State Club, Kent County, arts and culture, was nominated by Sarah Zimmerman. Made up of 32 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students from Campus Community School in Dover, the First State Club works with First State Heritage Park during the school year to present historical programs to the public. Staff from First State Heritage Park was able to go into the classroom and work closely with the students to research, develop programs and create activities for the general public. The students also present the programs to the general public for the First State Heritage Park. The club also has helped First State Heritage Park with Arts, Culture and Heritage Preservation Field Days. Displaying professionalism that is well beyond their ages, the students have collectively donated more than 1,200 hours in volunteer service in 2017 alone.

Sussex Central Students in Action, Sussex County, community service, was nominated by Mallory Stratton. For the past two years, Sussex Central High school Students in Action group has hosted a clothing drive called the “Warm Heroes Project” where they collect slightly used or new hats, gloves, scarves and other pieces of warm clothing to donate to people who are homeless and/or veterans in need to keep them warm during the cold winter months. These items are donated to Home of the Brave I, Home of The Brave II and the Georgetown Veterans Center. After months of collecting donated items, Sussex Central Students in Action logged more than 250 volunteer hours and donated more than 500 items.

TeenSHARP Capstone Scholars, New Castle County, education, was nominated by Massona Alam. The five members that make up the TeenSHARP Capstone Scholars may all work on different projects, but they all share the same goal of bridging the racial and socioeconomic disparities in college access for students in their specific high schools. Marco Ortega and Josh Gunter worked to bring top college admission representatives to William Penn High School in New Castle. Also at William Penn High School, David Miller created a community service club and is working to implement a policy to use detention hours to do community service instead of sitting in a classroom. Cyntiche Deba, of A.I. duPont High School in Wilmington, and Jessica Chaplin, of Appoquinimink High School in Middletown, each worked to introduce workshops with a goal of increasing college readiness within the students at their respective high schools. Collectively, the five TeenSHARP Capstone Scholars accumulated 250 volunteer service hours in 2017.

Mispillion River Watershed Clean Up, Kent County, environment, was nominated by Matthew Babbitt. Since March 2013, Samantha and Cole Palmer have been volunteering with Delaware Nature Society through the Technical Stream Monitoring Program conducting water quality tests weekly on the Mispillion Waterways. All tests conducted are shared with state and regional partners who work in water quality assessment and modeling. Discovering a considerable amount of trash in and around the waterway road crossings, Samantha and Cole decided to take it upon themselves to clean and remove the trash that had been illegally dumped. They volunteered more than 380 hours monitoring and cleaning the watershed, conducted more than 1,300 observations and tests, as well as removing 887 pounds of refuse, recycling 645 pounds and properly disposing of the rest. The data they collect guides the long-term conservation of the watershed, regulating the chemicals allowed to be used based on the amount of chemicals entering the waterway. They are also removing future micro plastics from entering the food chain impacting thousands of people who live and play in the 76-mile Mispillion River Watershed.

Buckets of Love, Kent County, health and special needs, was nominated by Carrie Hart and Mallory Stratton. Buckets of Love was started by Reagan and Payton Garnsey, ages 11 and 6. Despite their young ages, the Garnsey sisters were already long-term volunteers, having previously raised money through Alex’s Lemonade Stand and later founding a knitting club at their school, Holy Cross School, in Dover. Their latest endeavor, Buckets of Love, is dedicated to raising funds and collecting age-appropriate items and toys for children ages 2-12 who are receiving medical care in Delaware. In 2017, a conservative estimate of 250 volunteer hours led to 112 assembled buckets. Many of the buckets were broken down to distribute single toys to children in the emergency room and outpatient areas of various hospitals, meaning hundreds of children have been impacted by the Garnsey sisters and their Buckets of Love.

Blessing Backpacks, New Castle County, human needs, were nominated by Linda Brenna-Jones and Mallory Stratton. During the past two years, five young people have been aiding the homeless populations in the cities of Wilmington and Middletown by handing out “Blessing Backpacks” and “Thinking of You” snack bags. The children, ages 10-13, collect donations of backpacks, hygiene products, socks, hats, hand-warmers, snacks, water bottles and blankets during the months of June through early December. These items are combined to create the “Blessing Backpacks,” which are distributed just prior to the cold months. Once the backpacks are assembled and distributed, they begin assembling the “Thinking of You” snack bags that contain a two-day supply of snacks, a hand warmer, personal care items and a note of encouragement. In 2017, the five students spent 500 hours collecting items, assembling and distributing backpacks and snack bags.

The Governor’s Youth Volunteer Service Awards are sponsored by the office of the governor and are coordinated by the state office of volunteerism and the Governor’s Commission on Community and Volunteer Service.

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