2021 Youth Service Award Winners

Grace Weismantel – Hilton Head Island High

Grace and her family moved from Illinois to South Carolina in the summer of her junior year, and she wanted to continue her volunteering.  She had found numerous volunteering opportunities while living in Illinois.  She wanted to volunteer somewhere that she could see the impact that she was making.  A family friend recommended that she reach out to the Boys and Girls Club of Hilton Head Island.  At the Boys and Girls Club, she was able to continue her love of tutoring students in a variety of subjects, and also work with younger children in arts and crafts.  Seeing the children finish the assignment on their own, understanding the lesson, made her enjoy every moment she had at the Boys and Girls Club.  Unfortunately, the spread of COVID-19 forced the organization to stop allowing volunteers to visit.

She saw how COVID had impacted so many families.  So, she began packing lunches for the Grateful Hearts soup kitchen and handing them out to families.  Her time with the Grateful Hearts kitchen has allowed her to view an accurate representation of individuals and families alike who need assistance during troubling times.  People of all different races, family sizes, and ages would come for lunches and this experience has taught her to be gracious to all people that she meets, and to be thankful for the caring and joyful family that she comes home to every day.

During her time at Hilton Head High, she has been a member of the Golf Team, Theatre, Sign Language Club, and National Honor Society.  She plans to pursue a bachelors degree in economics at the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina. Congratulations Grace!

 

Madison MacCabe – Hilton Head Christian Academy

What makes Madison so unique is why she does all that she does.  She genuinely loves and cares for those around her.  She has an uncanny ability to make others feel valuable.  Education, sports, and drama are all tools she uses to positively impact those around her.  She is a person of faith and it has helped her become a person who sees every avenue of life as an opportunity for service.

Madison was offered the opportunity to attend a short-term mission trip to the Caribbean Christian Center for the Deaf, a boarding school for deaf students in Knockpatrick, Jamaica.  She thought it would be an exceptional opportunity to educate herself on an unfamiliar culture and forge relationships with the people she would meet.  Some of her fondest memories were those spent in the courtyard, playing four-square with the students each day.  Her visit to “Deaf Can Coffee”, a locally run coffee shop employed entirely by deaf individual was particularly impactful.  The mission of Deaf Can is to inspire deaf youth to believe in their talents and abilities, engage their passions and interests and foster creative, positive thought in a healthy community.

Being inspired by the mission of “Deaf Can”, she instituted an exam week fundraiser in partnership with her school’s coffee collective.  She designed “Mackalia’s Macchiato’s in honor of the young Jamaican girl she hoped to sponsor.  With the generosity of her classmates, she was able to raise the money needed to sponsor a full year of Mackalia’s education.  Not only did she gain the confidence to advocate for the needs of others, but also learned the power of passion.

At Hilton Head Christian Academy, she is a member of the Honor Council, Zonta Z-Club, National Honor Society, Thespian Society, and FCA.  She was awarded the Mayor’s Community Service Award Bronze Level.  She has participated in the Varsity Soccer Team, JV Volleyball, Theater and her church youth group.

She will be attending Vanderbilt University, majoring in health or chemistry.  In medical school, she hopes to pursue pediatrics, such as oncology or pediatric surgery. Congratulations Madison!

 

Emma Drury – May River High

Emma had always stayed busy in elementary and middle school, but felt something was missing.  As she entered high school, she decided to make a change and took inventory of the activities that she had been doing for sheer busyness.  She stopped doing anything that she was not passionate about and made an effort to seek out new opportunities.  This gave her free time to try new activities, such as her church’s youth group.  As a member of her high school youth group, she decided to volunteer for the middle school youth group.  She quickly realized that she loved working with children and was growing even more in her faith.  The more she led large groups of middle schoolers and got to know some of them on a more personal level, she knew that she wanted to be even more involved.

After a year of working as a middle school youth leader and taking on even more responsibility, she was nominated by her church as a member of the Anglican Church of South Carolina Youth Commission.  The Youth Commission is a team of twelve high school students whose primary focus is planning youth activities, retreats, and programming throughout the state of South Carolina.  It also allows the members of the Youth Commission to gain experience in leadership, event planning, and activities coordination.  She now attends meetings, training, and retreats to plan, organize, and execute youth events for the Anglican Church.

She also serves as the Youth Delegate on the South Carolina Bishop Search Committee.  This committee is a team comprised of some of the most esteemed church leadership in the state.  The primary focus of this committee is finding a new Bishop for the state of South Carolina.  She is participating in retreats, leadership training, and the interviewing and vetting of candidates.  Being a voting member of the Bishop Search Committee is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that she is very proud to be a part of.

Only when she found her passion for serving her community through her faith did she realize that success easily followed, but not without hard work and effort.

While in high school, she has been involved with Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Ambassadors, Cross Country, Junior Varsity Basketball, Beta Club, and National Honors Society.  Upon graduation, she plans to attend a university to major in biology and minor in Spanish to become fully bilingual.  After college, she plans to attend medical school to become a pediatrician. Congratulations Emma!

 

Brooke Simons – Hilton High Island High School

Brooke has always strived to make an impact.  Her involvement in community service began when she was 10 years old, volunteering in a dementia day program at Memory Matters.  She worked with the older adults through music and art activities, and loved the feeling she received when their spouses/caregivers thanked her for keeping them happy and entertained so they could have a break each day.  When she got to high school, she saw a new opportunity to serve and lead within the special needs community.  She has worked hard to help the community at-large see their abilities rather than their disabilities.

She reinstated a club at school that had been dormant, Project Unify. This club’s mission is to bridge the gap between the population of high school students with and without intellectual disabilities, and to serve people with special needs in the community at-large through the local non-profit Pockets Full of Sunshine.  Through Project Unify and her leadership, they create inclusive parties, events, and social gatherings for special needs people to feel loved and valued.

With  COVID came isolation for the special needs community.  Brooke created  two programs – a pen pal project and a fundraising initiative to help purchase occupational training equipment.  With the Pen Pal project, she enlisted Project Unify members to write and send inspirational cards and messages to special needs adults to combat feelings of isolation.  She brought a national movement called the Front Steps Project to Hilton Head.  She went to 100+ houses and took photos of families on the front steps to capture a memory of this unprecedented time.  Instead of payment, she asked for donations to Pockets Full of Sunshine.  She raised over $2100 to purchase new vocational equipment.

She has received many awards and honors.  She was named a “Community Hero” by the Town of Hilton Head, receiving the dedication of Pockets Full of Sunshine’s “We Rise by Lifting Others” t-shirt campaign.  She also earned the annual Mayor’s Call to Service award for over 150+ hours of community service 6 times.  She has been featured in local magazines, interviewed by two local TV stations, spoke on podcasts, and wrote letters published in local new outlets.

Please watch this video to learn more of Brook’s recent service activities:  https://vimeo.com/468131037/fe981d9f29

She plans to earn an undergraduate degree with a double major in psychology and political science and then attend law school. Congratulations Brooke!

 

Jack Paul Barney – Hilton Head Preparatory School

Jack is looking to earn a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration or Psychology.  He is also very interested in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Studies as a possible double major or minor.  He is an avid tennis player and has learned that fitness and athletics are not just physical but also mental.  The importance of understanding the mind to him is one that goes beyond sports.  He feels like psychology can help him better understand himself and others.

He has spent over 65 hours as a volunteer Turtle Tracker on the beach to help small turtle hatchlings’ chances of survival.   He is dedicated to raising awareness of how human behavior impacts the breeding of Loggerhead Sea Turtles and other wildlife.  The University of Tennessee and College of Charleston both have a strong emphasis on the environment and those are two of his top choices.

His community service is widespread.  He has been involved with Brain Gains.  Brain Gains is a summer camp working to elevate the minds of low income teens.  While in high school, he has spent every summer volunteering.  All the teens wanted was opportunities to learn and grow which is what he helped provide as a “Study Buddy”.

He also has volunteered for “Pledge the Pink Breast Cancer”.  This organization holds annual walks to raise money for breast cancer research.  He and his friends set up a water and snack stand at the halfway point of the event.   Volunteering was a way to honor his mother’s best friend who passed away from breast cancer.

His definition of community service is helping others and giving back.  In service to others we humble ourselves and let go of our egos. The importance and need for service never stops.  It is something that should be done at every stage of life.  Since May 2016, he has accumulated over 470 hours of volunteer service, helping 20 different organizations. Congratulations Jack!