story & photos
by Maren Schober
In conjunction with National Youth Service Day, Friday, April 30th, the City of Norwich presented youth service awards to nine local students. Being honored are Catariny Depina, Cape Verdean Santiago Society Inc., Katherine Rose, Norwich Anti-Bullying Coalition, Latisha Jicha, Project Outreach, Faraline Clebert, Norwich Branch NAACP, Susan Weisbrod, Junior Volunteer at Backus Hospital, Marilu Barrientos, NFA Diversity Program, Kayla Flaherty, New London County 4-H Camping Program, Vicki Bentley, Hogie’s Heroes, Norwich Technical High School and Rachel Dunham, CT 4-H Teen Ambassador Program.
Gathered with familes and friends inside Norwich City Hall the youth were presented awards by City Councilman Tucker Braddock. “If one person turns down a volunteer job, and then and second person and third, this country is in trouble,” Tucker points out. “Volunteering is vital to our nation and we are so proud of our youth volunteers!”
The nine award recipients are all involved with many and diversified volunteer projects and our community is fortunate to receive their time, energy and enthusiasm!
For instance there is Faraline Clebert, 11th grader at Norwich Free Academy. She is very involved with Project Outreach, NEXUS and the Haitian Club at NFA. “One of my favorite projects is making battery powered flashlights for the people of Haiti. They really need battery lights and I am happy to make sure they receive them,” Faraline tells me. “I call it the Sunlight Project.”
Then there is Katherine Rose of the Anti-Bullying Coalition. “I love working on the Bully-Busters Club newsletter and drumming with the group,” she states. She helps with the community meals every month by making desserts. She also makes sleeping bags for the community.
Marilu Marrientos, a senior at NFA, tutors students, helps new Latino students learn English and participates in cultural events in the community. “I teach in the EnglishAs A Second Language program,” Marilu remarks. “I moved to this country from Peru five years ago and I know how it feels to be a new immigrant. I try to make them feel at home here.”
Kayla Flaherty is very involved with the New London County 4-H Camp among other projects. “I love getting to meet staff from five different countries,” she comments.
Rachel Dunham is making a major contribution to the Teen Ambassador Program. She is a leader in its programs. “I love going on the State 4-H Teen Leader Weekend where I help train youth leaders. I was fortunate to work with an autistic child during the weekend,” Rachel reflects.
We can be proud of all these youth service award recipients. They deserve our heartiest congratulations and thanks.