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Applauding young volunteers

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013 10:54 a.m. CDT

The DeKalb County KEYS Initiative (Keep Encouraging Youth to Succeed) recently awarded 21 young people throughout DeKalb County with the Leaders or Tomorrow award. This award was created to recognize and honor the valuable contributions that young people are making in our community. 

The KEYS Initiative recognizes that youth volunteerism is a win-win for communities. Charities and not-for-profit organizations get help carrying out their mission, and the youth who are volunteering get valuable hands-on experience, a sense of purpose and a variety of benefits that help prepare them for their future.

“We are very pleased to have received a large number of nominations from all over DeKalb County and are grateful to the organizations that welcome youth volunteers,” Mary Hess, asset specialist for the KEYS Initiative, said. “Through this process we learned that there are some amazing young people living in DeKalb County and they are very graciously giving back to their communities at a young age. Their stories are inspiring.”

The 21 Leaders of Tomorrow were recognized and presented with a plaque during city council meetings in their respective hometowns. Award winners are:

From DeKalb: Joe Rathke, Jakeob Folowell and Samantha Parker

From Genoa: Kayla Craig, Jared Barton, Jessica Kurpius, Andrew Brening, Alex Siksna, Aidan Simmons, Trevor Simmons, Heather Gathman, Rachel Gathman, Michael Kral and Jack Kral

From Kirkland: Kelly Aves, Courtney Bolin and Dan Monaco

From Somonauk: Joe Warhurst and Grace Ballas

From Sycamore: Brejani Owens and Jordan Berger

The KEYS Initiative invites all community members to fully embrace the notion that raising successful kids takes more than just a single family or school; it takes an entire community. An engaged community requires many people – educators, faith leaders, community leaders, parents, governmental figures and others – to come together to support youth.

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