Source: Sherman Publications

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BGYA Youth Recognition—April 19

by Susan Bromley

April 11, 2012

Austin Hahn believes teenagers often get a bad rap, with adults looking down on them or suspecting them of causing trouble.

So Hahn fights against the prejudice by doing good works. In the past year alone, he has volunteered for the Ortonville Community Emergency Fund's food pantry; helped with various activities at Seymour Lake United Methodist Church, where he is a member; walked in the CROP Hunger Walk and Relay for Life to raise funds to fight back against cancer; assisted at a soup kitchen and participated in Rocking and Raking. Hahn has also helped clean debris from tornado devastated areas in Joplin, Mo. and Dexter, Mich.

"Why would you want to be a stereotypical teenager?" he asks. "Go out of the box and destroy the stereotype. I like to volunteer because I think there is a little bit of light in everyone and I like to set an example and show that there is light and good in everyone. I like to help others."

Hahn, a Brandon High School senior, isn't the only teen in the community breaking the stereotype. He and 125 other students in the community, many teens, but some even younger, will be honored for their volunteer efforts April 19 at the Brandon High School cafeteria during the annual Brandon Groveland Youth Assistance Youth Recognition Night. The theme of the event this year is Volunteers: The Heart of the Community.

The 126 youth being honored all are school-age residents within the Brandon School District boundaries. Nominees were selected on the basis of voluntary services and/or exceptional personal efforts in 2011, and were nominated in one of several categories, including exceptional service to others; achievement by an individual who has overcome personal challenges and/or set an example for others; heroism/outstanding humanitarian act; and exceptional act by an individual within a club or organization.

This year's nominees include students who have helped their fellow classmates, participated in the Peers Making Peace mediation program, organized fundraisers to help various charities, donated their hair to cancer patients through Locks of Love, helped out during library programs, assisted senior citizens with yard clean-up and minor home repairs in the Teens and Seniors Rocking and Raking, gone on mission trips to other states or within Michigan, volunteered at soup kitchens, put together care packages for military personnel, constructed playgrounds, and much, much more, all giving countless hours of their time.

Five of these volunteers, who tallied more than 200 hours each in volunteering, will be honored with Gold Heart Awards.

"It has been an honor reading over the 126 nomination forms this year for the BGYA Youth Recognition Night," said Fran Hotchkiss, Youth Recognition Chairperson. "I am so pleased to work in a community where there are so many outstanding youth that are willing to donate their time and talents to help make Ortonville a better place to live!"

Jeannie McCreery, township clerk and organizer for Rocking and Raking, is grateful for all the volunteers.

"The kids come and do repairs, wash windows for seniors— imagine a senior trying to stretch and wash windows on a step ladder. That's scary," she said. "But the kids come in and do it joyfully. They stand in front of me with blisters on their hands and they say, 'This is cool, can I come back and do it next year?' These children take ownership of volunteerism. It grows children into caring adults and they continue that caring in their families. We are more blessed in our community than any other place I've ever seen with giving back."