The selfless service and generous efforts of 150 local students were recognized during the annual National President’s Volunteer Service Award ceremony Wednesday made possible in partnership with Georgia College GIVE Center, Hands on Milledgeville and Communities In Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County.
“Volunteering to me is the best way to make a massive impact in someone’s life. Giving back to the community and those in need and knowing I am making a difference is such an amazing feeling ... I just love helping people; it is as simple as that,” said Barrett Roell, a senior marketing and management major at Georgia College. “Winning the Presidential Service Award and being recognized for my volunteer efforts is awesome, and I am very proud to get to be acknowledged for what I do, but winning a medal isn’t the true award — it’s knowing I’ve made a difference.”
The students from Georgia College, Baldwin High School, Georgia Military College Prep School and John Milledge Academy tracked a minimum of 100 volunteer hours within 12 months, providing 15,000 hours with their helping hands.
“If volunteer time is worth $20, that’s $300,000 these youth have saved the community, so that definitely impacts our community greatly,” said Kendall Stiles, director of the GIVE Center. “The number is only part of the story. I think the other side of it is the lives they’ve touched and the difference they’ve made in the recipients life as well.”
Stiles kicked off the evening with a welcome before Mayor Richard Bentley, Georgia College Student Government Association President Cody Allen and Georgia College President Dr. Steve Dorman provided congratulatory remarks. The keynote speaker was Georgia College senior Alexa “Lexi” Kraft. Several local nonprofit organizations were also represented, along with families and friends to commend the students.
Georgia College senior Michele McGuire’s legacy was distinguished with the Giving Tree Award in addition to her second National President’s Volunteer Service Award. Her experience with Gamma Sigma Sigma since freshman year has allowed her to play a leadership role in various events, including the Life Enrichment Center’s Black and White Gallery, Survivors in Pink and the Great Pantry Cleanout.
“I was really flattered; I had no idea it was coming because being recognized is not what I expected at all. I’m honored because my sister Megan McGuire received the Giving Tree award in 2011 so I know how important the award is,” she said. “Community service has always been a big part of my life and I’m always grounded in giving back through my sister and parents. My sister has a heart of gold. I’m really thankful for the opportunity the GIVE Center has provided me on campus as well as in the community. Kendall is definitely one of the most significant role models in my life; I’m humbled by the experience.”
A tree will be planted on Earth Day Monday, April 22, also McGuire’s birthday, to celebrate her mark she leaves on the campus and extended community as she plans to work at an advertising firm in the Atlanta area after graduation. The tree will be planted on front campus by the Georgia College Physical Plant.
“This award is the top-ranking award from the GIVE Center each year. It’s not about the hours they’ve logged, but what they’ve done here,” Stiles said. “The award goes to someone who is leaving the university and has developed a legacy. Michele has done that through her passion for service and skills and expertise in marketing, public relations and advertising. She has knocked the socks off on all of us around here.”
Georgia College students were also recognized as recipients of the National Daily Point of Light Award, which honors individuals and groups for creating meaningful change in the community. The 2013 winners are Kraft, Ashley Pittman, Courtney LaHatte and Georgia College Miracle fundraiser for the Medical Center of Central Georgia’s Children’s Hospital.
All students were awarded with a certificate of achievement, lapel pin, and a congratulatory letter from the National & Community Service president and Pres. Barack Obama, depending on the total number of volunteer hours completed. Georgia College students honored will also receive a graduation medallion and will be recognized at the annual Bobcat Awards at 7 p.m. Monday, April 8 in the Magnolia Ballroom.
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