Heartprint Award Winners Honored
More than 60 teen volunteers devote thousands of hours supporting Hephzibah’s mission through service, and each year, we recognize the extraordinary efforts of select teens in their senior year of high school who have demonstrated exceptional commitment and service. This year, Hephzibah is proud to recognize our two Heart Print Award winners Rowe Balmer, Oak Park River Forest High School, and Adam Hidad, St. Ignatius College Prep, for their dedication and commitment to Hephzibah.
Rowe Balmer has been involved with Hephzibah since she was in elementary school and attended the after school day care program. She has been a Huskie Helper for four years, a big sibling for two years, and now is an officer with Huskie Helpers, our service volunteer student group at Oak Park River Forest High School.
“Rowe has the ability to adapt to any situation, always with a smiling face,” says Hannah Weigel, volunteer manager. “She is extremely committed to the children that we serve and is an amazing leader among her peers.” Rowe’s involvement with Hephzibah has also led to another valuable community connection. Through her work at Lively Athletics in Oak Park, the kids in the group home are fitted with new shoes thanks to the generosity of the business owners and a local running group.
When Adam Hadid started volunteering in the after school day care program at Irving Elementary School two years ago, his intention was to complete his required service hours and move on. What he did not anticipate however, was the impact the experience would have on him and the impact he would have on the kids.
“The children saw me as more than a volunteer, they saw me as a role model,” Adam says. “As time passed, we began to grow closer, and friendships were built. They would always light up when I walked into the cafeteria.” By the time he had completed the necessary service hours, he had no desire to leave the program. “The connections I built with the kids there were simply too strong to break and forget about. I continued my service and haven’t regretted it one bit.”
Adam says that even when he heads to college next year, he will continue to visit his pals at Irving when he is home for breaks. “It’s just such a fulfilling experience to see the results of adding to the positivity in a child’s life.”
Many volunteers have expressed similar sentiments and shared stories of how their involvement with Hephzibah has affected their lives. Recently, 2016 Heart Print Award winner Ben Meleckian reflected on his experience in a letter to Hephzibah. He wrote:
“Hephzibah allowed me to find a job, join elite programs at school, get into colleges, but most importantly realize what I want to do with my life. Hephzibah gave me the chance to meet some of the most amazing people, both kids and adults, who inspire me every single day. Because of that, I have been taking social work classes at school and joined social work council so I can become a social worker and help kids who need it. From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone for allowing me to be part of Hephzibah. It meant the world to me.”
Hephzibah is grateful for the support and dedication of all of our teen volunteers!