For the 2009-2010 Annual Community Service Contest, we received dozens of entries from Ayusa students volunteering in their host communities around the United States. We chose three winners deserving of special recognition. In addition to their enthusiasm for volunteering, the winners all made a powerful impact in their communities, exhibited a commitment to their projects, and grew as individuals because of their participation in service projects. Each winner had an organized and inspiring submission that exemplified the amazing work that they did. They have received a trip to San Francisco to see the sights in April!
Mohammed Rubaiath Hossain
Mohammed, from Bangladesh, is living with the Odell family in Columbia, South Carolina. This student greatly impressed the judges with his incredible devotion to helping those in—and outside—of his community. Through his work with children when he volunteered to paint faces at a fair in his community, to fundraising for his school by working the school store during football games, to his work organizing yard sales and food distribution programs through local churches, and collecting cans of food for the less fortunate, this student makes it clear that he truly sees the value in helping others through community service. During his winter break at his high school, he traveled to New Orleans to help build houses with Habitat for Humanity for those affected by Hurricane Katrina. He has been greatly influenced by his volunteer work, and particularly by his work in New Orleans. He was able to see first-hand how greatly his service impacted the people around him. This student comes highly recommended for his compassionate heart, his motivation to do well in the world and his loving tolerance for all of the people he meets.
Regional Director Diane Knetzer says, “He has realized that there are people in desperate conditions all over the world who need to be served, and he takes sincere satisfaction in knowing that he can serve and take action to reduce their misery and improve their lives. There seems to have been a subtle, but important shift from doing community service to meet his own ends to truly serving and benefitting others.”
Karel “Charlie” Kotalik
Compassionate, cheerful, resourceful, dynamic, energetic and helpful. These are just a few words to describe Karel Kotalik, from the Czech Republic. Better known as “Charlie” to his host community in Hamlet, Indiana, he quickly found ways to assist not only his host parents, Marilyn and Carl Goodrich, but the community at large. Soon after arriving in Hamlet, Charlie stepped in to help plan, organize and coordinate events for the annual Yellowstone Trail Fest. Through his sense of humor, good cheer and willingness to help in any possible way, the Fest was a success! Always willing to share his talents and high energy, Charlie has tutored in math, joined the Oregon-Davis High School’s student conservation committee, shoveled many a snowy driveway, assisted several senior neighbors, shared his culture and has shown a level of responsibility in doing community service that has commended him to all. The people of Hamlet are already saying how much they will miss Charlie when he returns home.
Filza is originally from Pakistan and currently lives in Buckley, WA with the Clark Family. She completed over 170 hours of community service, dedicating most of her time to working with young people who have disabilities or special needs in her host community through the “Connections” Program. Filza has been truly committed to this program, taking part in every activity – ranging from recreational nights and movie nights, to dances, and more! When asked what volunteering taught her about herself, Filza said “I found out that I like to work with children, how innocent they are, and how spending time with them can also change your life.”
Filza’s “Connections” Advisor had this to say about Filza: “Filza is a positive model for both staff and students. If a person like Filza, whose dress and religion is different from those she volunteers with, can still make a human connection that builds trust and harmony, then why can’t others? She sets the bar. She is our inspiration.”