Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Orange County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) recognized a group of young citizens who participated in the Jefferson Awards Lead360 Challenge on Tuesday. This program engages and celebrates America’s youth for their efforts in making a difference and inspires young people to participate and coordinate public service projects in their community.
The Jefferson Awards, founded by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Sam Beard, is the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service.
Mayor Jacobs, Commissioners, and the National Director of the Jefferson Awards presented each honoree with a certificate. Local participants included high school and college students and professors, who volunteered in 13 different projects. The projects addressed a variety of issues, which included crime, hunger and poverty, protecting the environment, education and literacy, elder care, and health and wellness. Recognized projects include:
- Youth Empowerment and Leadership Learning – Service to Youth
- The Inspiration Project – Peace and Justice, Rollins College student, City of Winter Park
- Visiting Eastbrooke Gardens – Elder Care, Orange County Public Schools, City of Apopka
- Ecuadorian Orphanage Project – Hunger and Poverty
- Student Library Council – Education and Literacy, Orange County Public Schools, City of Apopka
- Warm Their Hearts – Hunger and Poverty, Orange County Public Schools, City of Apopka
- Live.Life.Healthy – Health and Wellness, Orange County Public Schools, City of Winter Park
- Mercy Garden – Peace and Justice, Eagle Scouts
- Serving With Pride – Community Building, Orange County Public Schools
- Freedom Recycles! – Environment and Sustainability
- Sunday Knight College Food Share – Hunger and Poverty, University of Central Florida student
- Winter Park Mosaic Project – Community Building, Orange County Public Schools, City of Winter Park
- Doing Good for No Good Reason – Hunger and Poverty, Rollins College, City of Winter Park
“It has been such a pleasure working with Mayor Jacobs and Orange County on this joint effort to shed light on the importance that service and youth engagement play in our community,” Michele Fidance said, National Director for the Jefferson Awards. “Mayor Jacobs was thrilled to have the opportunity to use the Lead360 Challenge to recognize and showcase the students and young individuals in Orange County who are dedicated to making a positive impact through service.”
Mayor Jacobs also selected three projects that stood above the rest and impacted the community. Serving With Pride created by the BETA Club at East River High School in East Orange County, the Sunday Knight Food Share from University of Central Florida student Todd Currie and Youth Empowerment Leadership Learning presented by International Baccalaureate students from Cypress Creek High School in the South Chase/Hunters Creek area, all received a medal on behalf of Mayor Jacobs for their outstanding community work.
Eagle Scout and 2013 Orange County Distinguished Citizen of the Year Daniel Bolan, was also acknowledged for his recognition as one of the top 27 national finalists of the Jefferson Awards. His work with local church leaders and area scouts to create a “Mercy Garden” in West Orange County in memory of local victims of violence is a demonstration of his passion for service and commitment to Orange County.
“Any change needs a starting point, a rallying cry or a person with the passion to bring together a group that believes in the same mission,” Bolan stated during the Mercy Garden dedication ceremony in 2013. “This Garden provides comfort, support and hope for a neighborhood with a message to stop violence.”
Overall, the efforts of these students and teachers from Orange County engaged 3,000 volunteers, garnered more than 16,000 volunteer hours, and impacted more than 22,600 people in our community.
Visit Click Orlando’s website to view WKMG Local 6’s news feature on the awards.
A collection of photos from the BCC meeting can be found on Flickr for media use.