Local students are honored for volunteer work

certificate-holding students

Hempstead City Councilman Thomas Muscarella presented a quote from US Congressman Anthony D’Esposito to the winners of the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Khushie Shelat, third from left, a Jericho High School student who raises funds and buys lunch from a small local restaurant and then delivers it to over 1000 healthcare providers in 10 different hospitals. Zhaotang (Rebecca) Wang, third from right, a Syosset High School student who volunteers at the Life Enrichment Program in Oyster Bay where she assists seniors and assists with newsletters and sending out fundraising request letters. He also plays the piano at the Center during special events. Aryan Shah, who was unable to attend the event, is a Syosset High School student and volunteered for Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan as a legislative intern.

In celebration of President’s Day, Long Island Volunteer Center hosted the President’s Volunteer Service Award ceremony at the Ethical Humanist Society of Long Island in Garden City on February 19, 2023. Eight Long Island students received awards for their volunteer efforts at nonprofits and community/community groups. Leading by example, these students use their time and talents to help build community, advance the human condition, and expand the reach and impact of the various nonprofits they serve:

  • Quanyou (Lisa) Chen received a Gold Award, attended The Wheatley School, Old Westbury
  • Eunice Lim received a Gold Award, attending Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School
  • Angel Karbanda received a Gold Award, attended Hicksville High School
  • Ethan Klenofsky received Bronze Award, attended Five Towns College
  • Aryan Shah received a Gold Aweard, attended Syosset High School
  • Khushie Shelat received a Gold Award, attended Jericho High School
  • Gus Vasilakis received a Gold Award, attended North Shore High School, Glen Head
  • Zhaotang (Rebecca) Wang received the Gold Award, attended Syosset High School

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is the most prestigious volunteer award associated with the White House. In 2003, the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation created the President’s Volunteer Service Award to recognize the important role volunteers play in America’s strength and national identity. This award honors individuals whose services positively impact communities in every corner of the nation and inspire those around them to take action too. PVSA continues under each administration, honoring the volunteers who use their time and talent to solve some of the toughest challenges facing our nation. Led by AmeriCorps and managed in partnership with Points of Light, this program enables Certification Organizations to recognize their most outstanding volunteers. The various levels of awards earned are based on hours worked voluntarily in non-profit organizations. Each award winner at Sunday’s event received a pin, an engraved certificate and a congratulatory letter from US President Joseph Biden.

Also present to provide a quote on behalf of U.S. Congressman Anthony D’Esposito was Garden City resident and Hempstead City Councilman Thomas Muscarella, who delivered a thoughtful remark invoking President Abraham Lincoln’s wisdom regarding personal responsibility for the written word. NYS Senator Kevin Thomas also provided a quote that adds another level of appreciation for young people’s contributions to the good of society.

Mineola Cub Scout Troop 246 kicked off the program with ceremonial color guard duties to the delight of the 49 event attendees. Outstanding speakers from the Life Enrichment Center in Oyster Bay, Executive Director Judy Palumbo and Supervisor Volunteers Katherine Gibson, shared inspiring words about the importance of volunteerism and its positive impact on seniors. One of the awardees, Rebecca Wang, who volunteers at the Life Enrichment Center in Oyster Bay is also adept at playing Chopin’s piano selection. News12 covered the event by capturing the essence of the program by sharing key moments and highlighting the contributions of young people in commemorating President’s Day.

Founded in 1992, the Long Island Volunteer Center, an affiliate of Points of Light, is the regional center for volunteer and community service initiatives throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties. It provides a central hub for individuals and groups looking for a way to serve their community by connecting them directly with nonprofits through its volunteer matching platform. It also serves to raise the profile of volunteerism in the area and increase the number of new volunteers to meet community needs. In 2011, LIVC was designated by the State of New York as the Regional Volunteer Center for Long Island. It is an independent non-profit organization registered with the IRS and a certifying organization for PVSA awards.

As certifying officer for the PVSA, Long Island Volunteer Center Board Chair Patricia Force, who coordinates awards and determines eligibility, presided over the event with remarks from Executive Director and Garden City resident Diana O’Neill. Sponsor of the event is LIVC Board Member Steve Santa Barbara from Haus Labs. LIVC management team members Meg Imhof Callinan, Pat Moynihan and Teri Resca also played a key role in the planning and execution of the awards ceremony. Cayleigh McDonough, Garden City High School, is on hand to help set up the event as an example of up-and-coming local youth leadership.

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