Youth Action Board Volunteers
Arianna Farina – Academy of the Sacred Heart
Stephanie Green – Wylie E. Groves High School
Kristen Harvey – Wylie E. Groves High School
jaclyn Krizanic – Academy of the Sacred Heart
Laurel lyngklip – Detroit Country Day
Nominated by Kelly Michaud, BBCC Youth Program Coordinator
The mission of the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition is to raise awareness and mobilize the entire community against substance abuse, with a focus on youth. Its Youth Action Board, comprised of volunteer high school students from public and private schools in the area, meets regularly to plan and organize activities for area teens that are safe, fun, and substance-free. These young people willingly take on the challenge of putting themselves out there, taking a stand on an issue that many of their peers may not agree with. They are determined to advocate for themselves and their peers, in a positive way, not to drink or use drugs.
The teens make their commitment to the Youth Action Board a priority, despite the many other time-consuming activities in their lives. They attend weekly meetings, recruit new students, and speak to students and parents at Coalition meetings and events. They spend a great deal of time fundraising and developing drug and alcohol campaigns. These young people plan and promote numerous education and awareness-building programs and events such as Band Jams, Summer Movie Nights, School Board and PTA meetings, Choices Youth Dialogue Day, Middle School to High School Transitions, and many more.
The nominees participate in all these activities and initiatives, plus each has their unique areas of interest and concentration.
Arianna Farina joined the Youth Action Board her sophomore year. This year, she volunteered to attend and connect with other teens from across Oakland County at the Oakland County Youth Voices and Advocacy Day. This was an important event for Arianna and other teens throughout Oakland County, as it gave them the opportunity to connect and share experiences.
Arianna believes that her contributions to the Youth Action Board have directly impacted her community. One of her more memorable experiences occurred during the Choices Youth Dialogue Day, on which high school students can come watch a live court session on topics such as underage drinking. She remembers a student saying that, as a result of the event, they decided that they were not going to drink alcohol or participate in substance abuse. To Arianna, this truly showed the impact of the events hosted by the Youth Action Board and Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition.
Stephanie Green joined the Youth Action Board the summer going into her freshman year, and this year serves as Co-Vice President. She has a particular concern for the pressure and anxiety teens are carrying today, especially younger teens who are being exposed to more, and are taking risks. Stephanie has helped to shape board meetings on this issue, and worked to raise awareness for what teens are going through. She took the lead role in meetings with Groves Administration to bring more awareness to the issue of teen substance use, and to develop a plan specific to her school to address this concern.
Stephanie has served her community in additional ways, including judging novice debate students in the Detroit Urban Debate League and mentoring elementary and middle school students on the importance of orchestra and the arts. She believes that everyone has a duty to contribute to the society in which we all live. She says, “We may not all share the same natural ability or social standing, but working together, we can improve communities, we can motivate others, and we can assist those who are in need.”
Kristen Harvey joined the Youth Action Board her freshman year. This year, she had an active role in meeting with the Groves administration to discuss concerns with teen substance use, and to further expand the Youth Action Board presence and mission. She took part in the Middle School Transitions Program, “The Truths and Consequences of Substance Use,” appearing in a special video that was shown to over 700 8th grade students in Birmingham. She answered important questions, talked about influences and pressure, and gave some great advice about making a successful transition to high school.
In addition, Kristen also has helped with timing at the Berkshire boys swim meets, volunteered at religious education classes at St. Owens Catholic Church, and helped with preparation for the 2015 Alzheimer walk. She was motivated to join the Youth Action Board by her desire to serve as a positive role model for her peers, and to increase awareness about the dangers of alcohol and drug use. She is proud of her role in helping others to make good choices and to be aware of the consequences of their actions.
Jaclyn Krizanic joined the Youth Action Board her sophomore year. She volunteered to take part in the Middle School Transitions Program, “The Truths and Consequences of Substance Use,” appearing in the video and answering the 8th graders’ key questions and concerns about the transition to high school. She told students, “Don’t worry, people look out for you and it gets better!”
She has served her global and local communities in a variety of other ways, including volunteering at Heartland’s rehabilitation center. Jaclyn also was part of the project called Dresses for Haiti, where she was able to sew and put together dresses for the little girls and families of Haiti that were impacted by the 2010 earthquake. She believes strongly that her work with the Youth Action Board has a strong impact on the community. Jaclyn says, “I know that if only one person is inspired by what they learn from the presentations or events that the Birmingham Bloomfield Community Coalition presents, this can start a chain reaction.”
Laurel Lyngklip joined the Youth Action Board during her freshman year. She has a keen interest in Social Media and Marketing, and this year has taken a lead role in expanding and managing the Youth Action Board’s social media presence. This year, Laurel took the BBCC’s Middle School Transition Program, “The Truths and Consequences of Substance Use,” to the entire Detroit Country Day 8th grade. She contacted her school administration to coordinate the presentations and took part in each of them, answering questions to give the 8th graders a better understanding of the transition to high school.
This March, Laurel gave of herself, literally, when she shaved her head to raise more than $2,000 for Childhood Cancer research. In replying to questions about her new appearance, she said, “It’s only hair and will grow back … eventually.” This example sums up well her views on service to the community. Laurel says, “I think that if I was born with the opportunity and means to help others, then that is my responsibility and obligation.”
Nadeline Abro – Marian High School
Nominated by Elizabeth Riek, Counselor
Throughout high school, Nadeline has engaged in service to Henry Ford Hospital. She began in the 9th grade as a volunteer escort in the main lobby. She continued her service there for all four years of high school, eventually serving as an assistant in the hospital pharmacy and volunteering in the Emergency Room. In total, she has given more than 800 hours of service to Henry Ford hospital, the highest contribution in Marian’s class of 2016. Nadeline also has shown great dedication to her church community, St. Thomas. She works with the children of her parish as a Vacation Bible School teacher and Summer Camp Junior Leader; she also has served as a Challenge Youth Group Leader, engaging middle school girls in activities and talks to develop their faith. Nadeline has committed much effort to feeding the hungry. Through the PB&J Outreach Program, she leads a group of church members every Saturday morning in making and serving food to the homeless and less fortunate in Detroit, including Mexican Town. At the Capuchin and St. Leo’s Soup Kitchens, she has prepared and served food, and helped to organize donated items.
Nadeline is inspired by a quote from Denzel Washington: “At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you’ve given back.” She feels rewarded by giving back and making a difference in people’s lives. One of the best parts of her experiences was the amazing people with whom she worked because “they were truly the ones who impacted [her] and made the difference.”
Logan Biggs-Lucas – Wylie E. Groves High School
Nominated by Norman Hurns, Counselor
Logan has been involved in the District’s Saturday School program, which meets for two hours every Saturday, tutoring students across the school district in core subject areas. As a member of the Interact Club, she has been involved in many community service projects in the school and community. She has participated in the Christmas Adopt a Family program, helped collect gloves and hats for an elementary school in Detroit, has volunteered at local senior communities, and planted trees for Greening Detroit. As a member of African Americans Changing Tomorrow, Logan participated in Make a Difference Day, the largest day of volunteerism in the United States. She was part of a Birmingham Public School district group of 100 students and staff that painted over 400 lockers at Dossin Elementary-Middle School in Detroit. Through her involvement in the Groves Big Brother Big Sister program, she mentored five freshmen students in the high school transition program, which has resulted in greater success for 9th grade students.
Logan is proud of helping middle school students make a successful transition from middle school to high school, and creating a good base for the rest of their high school career. Her participation in Big Brother Big Sister was inspired by his Big Sister, whose encouragement and support helped her successfully survive a difficult transition to high school. She says, “With me helping them have a great freshman year, they are better prepared for things that life may throw at them, and in turn will be better prepared to help others, giving a domino effect of helping students better their high school experience.”
Meghan Coppen – Earnest W. Seaholm High School
Nominate by Kelly Willian, Youth Director at First United Methodist Church of Birmingham
Meghan is a long-time volunteer at First Methodist United Church of Birmingham, serving in the nursery and Sunday school classrooms. She was the first high school student to fully lead a room for the Vacation Bible School program last summer. This role has always been filled by an adult volunteer, based on the time commitment and responsibility required for the job. She led not only the children, but also the adult volunteers, through a successful week of programming. In addition, Meghan dedicates the first week of August to assisting with the South Oakland Shelter (SOS) mission when it is housed at First United Methodist Church. She works hard preparing the church for many guests, and cares for them without judgment or prejudice. She does whatever is necessary to ensure that these men, women and children have a comfortable place to sleep, food to eat, and compassionate and engaging conversation. As a senior this year, Meghan has taken a large leadership role in the church’s new high school student mission project, FEED, that seeks to increase awareness and financially support the people of Zimbabwe. As part of the student-led leadership team, Meghan has been instrumental in communicating with the congregation and community about the purpose of the mission, and in organizing fundraising events. In addition to the work she has done at her church, Meghan has done service with her school through Seaholm Offers Support. She has gone on mission trips to Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Costa Rica and Detroit. She also has been a part of a freshman mentoring program at Seaholm.
Meghan has dedicated herself to serving the community despite having to struggle with significant health issues during her first few years of high school. About her work with Seaholm Offers Support, Meghan says she is pleased to have “been a part of helping people through a difficult time by showing them that they are valued, loved and respected, … empowering them to have the confidence to start a new, positive chapter in their life.”
Ryan Giniel – Brother Rice High School
Nominated by Jay Louis-Prescott, Campus Minister and Teacher
Ryan has demonstrated great commitment to helping young people over the past year. During the summer, he participated in a school-sponsored mission trip to Bonita Springs, Florida, where he worked for a week volunteering at a day camp for the children of migrant workers. Throughout the school year, he has worked once a month at the Christ Child House in Detroit, helping children and teens who are living in state foster care. In both of these areas of service, Ryan provided tutoring and recreation, but more importantly he presents a very positive male role model for young men. The younger children view him as a “big brother.”
Ryan feels that his contributions will make future differences for many of the kids he works with. About his commitment to service, he says, “I just kind of feel this natural want to help everyone in the community, so doing service is not a huge project for me, but rather an activity I enjoy participating in.”
Angela (Milli) Goncalves – Lincoln Street Alternative High School
Nominated by Gary Bigger, Principal
For three years, Angela has demonstrated dedicated support to the Autustic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Center at Seaholm High School. She has been working with children at the ASD for three years, and has served as an ASD intern during the 2015-16 school year. She also has been a LINKs student for the past 1.5 years. She volunteers every weekday after school with the ASD program and does LINKs during the school day. At ASD, she sets up the students’ independent task boxes and scores student improvement. She creates word walls, searches resources, files, creates social script starters, and much more. She supports students as they work through daily struggles they may experience in a variety of settings within the school and community and on field trips. She takes the time to work with students that other people might not take the time to understand. The teacher feels that Angela’s dedication, commitment, and consideration for the students, classroom, and staff supersede those of other student volunteers because she always does more than is required.
Angela’s commitment stems from her love of teaching, as well as the way the ASD program helped her to address some personal problems. She says, “I take the time to care about, get to know, and work flexibly with the students [she] help[s].” She explains that she teaches her students “not only academics, but also life skills”. Angela feels her work with ASD is personally rewarding: “Teaching a teenager to tie their shoes or calming a 16-year down from a 2-year-old-style meltdown is what I live for.”
Lane Griffiths – Earnest W. Seaholm High School
Nominated by Cynthia Merten, First Presbyterian Church
Lane has been an active contributor at First Presbyterian Church of Birmingham since he was a young child. Throughout his late middle school and high school years he has served in our Sunday Morning CrossWalks program as a Shepherd, or leader, of children from Kindergarten through the fifth grade. Lane has not only been willing to help wherever needed, but he checks in every Sunday morning to inquire as to how he can help. His leadership, consistency and attitude of service and helpfulness make him stand out among his peers. The younger children look up to Lane with respect as a role model, while still enjoying his fun loving nature. Lane regularly assists children in the drama, art, cooking, computer, and music rooms by demonstrating commitment, enthusiasm, creativity in leading them, and an overall spirit of helpfulness.
Lane says, “I genuinely enjoy helping people. If something good comes from my doings then that is a huge positive, but all I really care about is making people’s days better. Whether that be with children or adults, I honestly want to do good because I want others to have the same opportunities that I have had.”
Matthew Hannawa – Brother Rice High School
Nominated by Jay Louis-Prescott, Campus Minister and Teacher
Matt participated in two of Brother Rice’s mission trips. One was to Bonita Springs, Florida, where he worked with the children of migrant workers, and the other was to Brownsville, Texas, where he worked with Central American refugees at Christ Charities welcoming stations upon their arrival to the U.S. Both of these service opportunities enabled Matt to see the huge challenges and hardships faced on a daily basis by refugees and the nation’s poor. At Bonita Springs, he was a terrific role model and friend to the young children in his charge.
Matt believes that his contributions brought happiness to the people he helped. He hopes that they inspired others his age to get involved, even if it is something small. He says, “I like community service projects because they keep me humble. They remind me that life outside school and my community isn’t perfect.”
Lisa Kamsickas – Academy of the Sacred Heart
Nominated by Gretchen Parks
Lisa has gone on two mission trips to Haiti, and this summer will go back for a third time. She helps plan what activities the group will do at the Home for the Dying, the children’s home, the wounds clinic, and at the summer camp. Last spring, she participated in a school-sponsored service trip to the Dominican Republic. Lisa also served people living in the Peruvian Amazon. She helped run a clothing drive for donations, trading the clothes for crafts the Peruvians made. Her group will sell these crafts and send the money to Peru to purchase filters for clean water. She is a weekly volunteer at St. Elizabeth Briarbank, an assisted living community for women. She does crafts and plays games with them. She tutors middle school students weekly in all subjects. As part of the Campus Ministry at her school, she plans and participates in liturgies, reflections, and prayer services. At school, she has taken an underclassman under her wing, and gives tours for prospective families.
Lisa gives so much of herself despite facing many serious personal challenges at home, including family issues, losses, and health issues. The satisfaction of knowing that she made someone’s day easier or brighter is more than enough motivation for her to continue wanting to serve others. About her work in Haiti, Lisa says, “I know that the work I do is impacting them…At the summer camp, the children end the week saying that it was the best week of their lives because we fed them, played with them, and removed them from their conditions for a while.”
Delphine Maddox – Wylie E. Groves High School
Nominated by Lezah Phillips, Counselor
Delphine has given back to the community in numerous ways during her high school years. She worked to help make Detroit greener and healthier by planting trees with her service and learning group, African Americans Changing Tomorrow. She also worked with younger kids in Detroit by helping with reading programs. In addition, through Cheerleading, she helped to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer through a Pink Out. She frequently served food at a homeless shelter, Mel Trotter, in Grand Rapids.
The time Delphine has given to serving the community is admirable, but it is all the more impressive when viewed in light of her life circumstances. Delphine has struggled throughout her high school years with a number of health issues and personal challenges that could have been devastating to many young people. Through all of these challenges, though, Delphine made it a priority to serve her community. She feels that she was a good role model to younger kids by showing the importance of giving back.
Grant Robertson – Wylie E. Groves High School
Nominated by Jennifer Kondak, Community School Organizer
Grant has dedicated a great deal of time to his service for the Groves Interact Club. He is a leader at club meetings, setting a great example for younger members and participating enthusiastically in all of the club’s projects. On visits to Arden Court Nursing Home, he engages the residents, all of whom have memory loss, in kind and caring ways.
Grant believes that his visits to the elderly care facility make a difference, since their family may not be able to visit them. He hopes his visits make them feel that there is someone out there who cares. He says, “If I were to be in their situation, I know I would very much appreciate a youth taking the time to visit me in my elderly state and bring[ing] me Valentine’s Day cards, hav[ing] conversations with me, and maybe play[ing] a few rounds of Bingo.”
Alex Shulman – Earnest W. Seaholm High School
Nominated by Cheryl Shettel, Community School Organizer
Alex is an active volunteer and mentor at Peercorps in Detroit. Twice a month, he participates in projects in Southwest Detroit. These include picking up trash around a park, building hockey nets for the winter, working in the community garden, or just playing soccer with the kids. Alex also had the opportunity to participate in the UCLA Leadership and Service Institute last summer. The highlight of his service experience was volunteering for the Special Olympics World games. Alex also has helped at the Friendship Circle and been a coordinator for a food drive at Yad Ezra food bank.
Alex feels that his service work helps to build bridges between the Detroit community and ourselves. He is troubled that suburban residents have no connection with the city of Detroit and its residences, they only visit places like Campus Martius or Tigers games, or commute to their offices and go directly home. He initially got interested in volunteering with Peercorps and then Clark Park because he felt he lacked a meaningful relationship with the city of Detroit. Alex says, “I can hear the voices of the community that give me a much different perspective of the city than Tigers games and concerts.”
Lorenzo Spagnuolo – Brother Rice High School
Nominated by Jay Louis-Prescott, Campus Minister and Teacher
In the span of just one year, Lorenzo attended three of the mission trips offered by Brother Rice. The trips were to Appalachia and Peru, where he worked with extreme poverty; and Brownsville, Texas working with refugees from Central America. In addition to addressing these people’s immediate needs, Lorenzo also worked on an advocacy program at Brother Rice that seeks to influence change in structural policies that affect people on the margins.
Lorenzo feels that his contributions have made a difference in the lives of the poor he has served around the world. He says, “Seeing the smile on the faces of the small children we helped in Peru motivates me to want to go back and do more.”
Micaela Waynes – Academy of the Sacred Heart
Nominated by James Kiefer, Community Service Coordinator
Micaela serves weekly at a school-sponsored service project at the Kennedy Center in Pontiac, an exceptional school for students of various ages who are challenged in many ways. This is her third year of giving her time and energy to these young people. One initiative she has supported at the Kennedy Center is the prom, which is unique is that students of all ages and their families are invited as guests. Three years ago, she and her classmates were honored to be invited to this gala event. Since then Micaela and her classmates have provided dresses for some of the young ladies, arranged for musicians and professional athletes to offer their time and good will to the event, and generally participated fully in this memorable evening. On a service trip to Thailand, Micaela served the local community by helping to build a house, cooking and delivering meals to the hungry and sick, teaching English and swimming to elementary children, and assisting in an orphanage.
Micaela feels that service which may seem small to her can make a major impact on someone’s life, which can in turn lead to a positive effect on the rest of the community. She can see that her contributions make a difference when she sees smiles on the faces of those that she has helped. About her work in Thailand, Micaela says, “By bringing people back on their feet, I hope it inspires them to want to make a difference on someone else’s life in the future.”
Irene Wilson – Marian High School
Nominated by Bess Riek, Counselor
Irene has contributed over 600 hours of service to her faith community over the past four years. Each summer through high school, she volunteered her time to the Missionaries of Charity in downtown Detroit, leading groups of young girls in activities and talks to help them grow spiritually through three-week summer camps. She traveled to Montreal for two months one summer to organize and lead a girls’ summer camp that was conducted entirely in French. Irene initiated, organized, and led an extremely successful pro-life youth conference, Building Bridges to a Culture of Life. She put hundreds of hours into restarting this program that had lost momentum in recent years. Along with a group of dedicated peers, Irene has built the conference into a well-attended program for the Catholic youth in our community. Over 300 young people now attend the conference annually, and the program is growing each year.
Irene feels that the Pro Life Conference will help each individual in attendance to come to a better understanding of why life matters, and that they in turn may spread the word to others, thus saving lives. After helping in soup kitchens as a young child, she developed an “addiction” to helping others. About all her work in service to the community, Irene says, “My end goal is to create a new world filled with constant knowledge and trust that aid is there, but I know that this will take time. For me, making a difference in one person’s life and helping one person feel appreciated and trusted in this world is enough.”
Byron Work – Earnest W. Seaholm High School
Nominated by Kelly William, Youth Director at First United Methodist Church of Birmingham
Bryon has demonstrated creativity and initiative in helping to launch a new mission project at First United Methodist Church of Birmingham. He wanted to find a way that he and his peers might make their mark and impact the world in a positive way. He led the way to launching a new mission project called FEED, dedicated to increasing awareness of the struggles faced by the people of Zimbabwe and financially supporting them. The students have begun their project by focusing on supporting ten children living at the Fairfield Orphanage at old Mutare Mission; they aim to fund the children’s education, clothing, and food-related needs. Byron and his fellow student leaders are finalizing the details on a 5K Race and Fun Run slated for late this spring to raise money for these orphans. He has presented multiple times to the congregation, and encourages and challenges his peers to become involved.
Byron said he was inspired by a trip he made to Vietnam when he was younger, and by a former First United Methodist youth member’s story about a student mission in which she was involved. He “realized [he] had an opportunity, and [he] seized it.” With regard to the number of children being helped, he said, “now 10 is a small number, but when multiplied by the individual value of each one of those lives, the number becomes immeasurable.”
2016 Jane Parker Ward Award Winner
Stephanie Sills – Earnest W. Seaholm High School
Nominated by Cheryl Shettel, Community School Organizer
Stephanie has been an active volunteer since she started high school. She is always outgoing, friendly and generous with her time as looks for ways to help others. She has served as an ESL conversation partner at Seaholm, and in the school’s Autistic Spectrum Disorder program. She also has helped with theatrical productions at the Village Youth Theater and Community House. Her leadership abilities were demonstrated when she was chosen to be a Kick Off Mentor Captain for incoming freshmen and to Co-chair Seaholm’s Junior Career Day. Stephanie’s real passion, however, lies in helping cancer patients. She has committed over a hundred hours to Camp Casey, a horseback riding program for children with cancer.
This past year, Stephanie undertook a tremendous project by establishing the first annual Lung Run, a 5K Run/Walk to raise money for the American Cancer Society, This involved countless steps, including getting a permit from the city, handing out more than 400 special event notifications to the homes on the route, obtaining insurance, and developing a lengthy information packet to present at a City Commission meeting. In addition, she got 98.7 radio to come to the event, blocked off roads with the Department of Public Services, persuaded many local stores and restaurants to provide food, brought in a race management system, organized the bibs, put up decorations, got signs, distributed fliers, recruited volunteers and runners, designed t-shirts, obtained sponsors, and much more. She persevered through all these obstacles and spent more than 150 hours planning and coordinating the Lung Run, raising $18,000 to help find a cure for cancer.
Stephanie’s greatest inspiration for creating the Lung Run was her mother’s diagnosis with lung cancer. She wanted to do something for her mother, who has done so much to help Stephanie during her own hard times. She is proud that the money she and her team of volunteers raised will go directly to lung cancer research into finding a cure. She feels that “[her] contribution, though small, [was] a daily reminder to the kids with cancer that they have many supporters, some of whom they don’t even know.” Despite the incredible amount of work involved, Stephanie already is looking forward to the second annual Lung Run.