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Friends of Service Awards

It’s a story I tell often. Way back in elementary school, I was elected as the student body president during my 5th grade year. That was a defining experience. The most defining project – irrelevant then, but very meaningful now – was a group project working toward placing new mulch at the front of the school. That notion of community service was small, but the experience stuck with me. About a decade and a half later, I still reflect on that experience for really getting me engaged with community service in a meaningful way at a relatively young age.

Throughout my public school years, more events came and went, but the real next monumental moment was learning the meaning and the value of “Ut Prosim” – my university’s motto. And if you’re reading this blog, I doubt I have to go into that. :)

So, when I saw an invite come through to HESONWHEELS earlier this month for a program put on by the organization Voices for National Service, I immediately chomped at the bit. The organizations they  were affiliated with and had done great work with – like Americorps, City Year, and the federal Department of Education amongst others – were organizations that I know try their best to instill service as a value in young people; which is identical to my own personal mission, too.

Posing for a funny Instagram photo with my wonderful date, Ari W. :)

Most importantly, I valued that this was a bi-partisan event that celebrated leaders from both the private and the public sector who work to share the importance of national service. While I truly, wholeheartedly believe in local, on-the-ground, grassroots service, and this organization does too; I think they do a commendable job of scaling it in an efficient but still meaningful way that I haven’t quite seen replicated anywhere else.

The students, honorees, and friends that I had a chance to connect with at the event also shared that dedication to service, especially those with the group City Year. If you haven’t heard about them before, I encourage you to learn more about the work they do toward bridging the gap between students and their potential. The way they use data and partnerships is incredible to me, especially with everything I learned from attending a Research-I university.

It was great to be able to attend a national event where those who work earnestly and in the honor of service to others are recognized. The greatest part? You know these people, like Senator Orrin Hatch, would still do this great work, with or without the recognition: servants by their truest definition.

See more about the event here, and connect with Voices for National service here.

Here are some fun personal photos from the event. :)

Ari W. and I at the awards podium during the pre-reception.
A ceiling shot of Union Station’s beautiful East Hall.
During the wonderful ceremony – many of the speakers were interspersed with great videos documenting their work and dedication to service.