Delta Hands for Hope has 6 students that are graduating high school this year. We have watched them grow, learn, and are so so proud of them! I wanted to share the nomination I made honoring their achievements and success over the past three years.
I am nominating the six high school seniors that are involved in Delta Hands for Hope’s youth leadership program for the 2018 Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence. These youth are Roderious Phillips, Keyveon Rice, Jakieus Roach, Brianna Townes, Makala Washington, and Japhabian White.
The youth leadership program at Delta Hands for Hope began in the summer of 2015 during the second year of summer programming for Delta Hands for Hope, and about 25 children (K-5th grade) were expected to participate in our summer camp. On the first day of camp, over 50 children showed up, and the next day, we had almost twice that many. Delta Hands for Hope needed to find additional volunteers quickly. I asked several high school students, including the six students mentioned above, to help me, and they spent their summer volunteering every morning leading children’s activities. These students, most of whom had just finished their freshman year of high school, then decided they wanted to continue meeting throughout the school year and start a leadership program.
During the next three years, I have been honored to watch as these youth grew from freshman to seniors and desired to improve themselves and their community, which is why I would like to nominate them collectively for this award. As a team, they have worked tireless to benefit the town of Shaw, Mississippi and provide valued and necessary leadership for Delta Hands for Hope as well as for the community. Delta Hands for Hope could not have grown as a non-profit without their encouragement and support. Through the leadership of these six youth, the leadership program has expanded to include more than 20 youth. In the leadership program, these students have developed their soft skills, explored career opportunities, participated in cultural awareness opportunities through trips, volunteered extensively, and provided necessary leadership for summer and afterschool programming for children in K-8th grade at Delta Hands for Hope.
The following is just a snapshot of their service to their community.
DHH youth leaders have spent the last two summers volunteering in other communities working with Delta Hands for Hope partner churches. In 2016, they spent a week in Dallas, Texas, and worked with a children’s reading camp, organized socks for Buckner International, passed out meals with City Square’s food truck, and organized clothes at a resale shop that supported local nonprofits in Dallas. In 2017, they traveled to Greenwood, South Carolina where they volunteered at a food bank, a homeless shelter, a children’s home, and Habitat for Humanity’s Resale Store.
This summer, the high school boys decided they wanted to improve their weight room to make it a better space for all student athletes in Shaw. DHH youth leaders planned a 3-day service project where they cleaned the weight room and repaired and painted the lockers.
They have worked the past three summers with Delta Hands for Hope’s children’s camp and have added additional responsibilities each year. They are now responsible for planning and leading children’s activities. They watch the children and encourage them to behave and participate. Each of the nominees has served in various capacities, but this past summer, they were each in charge of a different activity. Roderious and Japhabian were group leaders for recreation. Makala led the kindergarten and 1st grade rotation, and Keyveon led the 4th grade rotation. Jakieus and Brianna were co-leaders for enrichment activities.
They organize and participate in community-wide clean-up days, and are currently helping build a park, repair and paint the bleachers at the school. They always work hard and provide encouragement for others to work hard as well. They have worked at several churches, painting, cleaning, and doing minor repairs. At our center, they have painted, organized, cleaned, moved bricks, scraped paint, did heavy lifting, and more. They have worked at their school in the school garden, painted classrooms, cleaned hallways, built benches at the baseball field, and painted bleachers.
One of the things I am most proud of is to see them teaching our younger youth leaders what it means to lead and serve. They patiently help our middle school and lower classmen high schoolers on service projects and are excellent role models.
Delta Hands for Hope youth leaders have invested over 3,000 volunteer hours in their community, and the seniors I am nominated have served almost half of these total hours.
I want to nominate these six youth because of the example they lead, not for only younger children, but for the adults in the community. They encourage and inspire the entire community. Because of this leadership program that they initiated, these youth have a brighter future, and they are motivating the younger generation to do the same. When I first met them, they wanted to volunteer because it occupied their time. Now, they are planning their own volunteer projects and are actively seeking additional opportunities to serve without prompting. They come out to serve on the hottest days of the summer and the coldest days of winter. They wake up early on weekends and school holidays, and stay late until projects are finished. Their dedication inspires me to do better and work harder to make sure that these youth have all of the opportunities that can be afforded to them.
These youth are very deserving of this award. My job is made easier because of them, and I would love to see them honored for their dedication and commitment.