The Florida Department of Education recently announced the 2013-14 winners for the Outstanding School Volunteer Awards. Harrison Harward (youth) and Lenore Hodges (adult) were both selected, making Palm Beach County the only district in the state with two winners.
Harward, a Royal Palm Beach resident who is a senior at Suncoast High School, has volunteered since she was in elementary school. Her contributions include making newsletters for various schools; working on projects such as feeding the homeless; working with the American Cancer Society and with Green Day events; letter-writing campaigns; and peer student support.
At her brother’s school, H.L. Johnson Elementary School, Harward created a news program that is shown at lunch each day. The program includes school news and various topics of interest, including astronomy pictures and facts, the day in history, weird science facts and a math problem of the day.
Through her ingenuity, Harward founded Communiteenz, a web site that has brought together a close-knit group of nearly 300 teen volunteers. Through Communiteenz, students can find out where a volunteer is needed, sign up for events and log their hours. The program spans multiple social media sites and is connected to various schools and organizations within Palm Beach County.
Hodges has volunteered in schools for 32 years and in eight different Palm Beach County schools for 17 years. She has tutored students in reading and created an aid that helped increase test scores. As a veteran volunteer, Hodges led a campaign to see that students ate healthy meals and helped underserved students obtain scholarships, home computers and Internet access.
Her contributions include assisting in the media center, and working at fun fairs, field days, book fairs, photo days, dances, productions and appreciation events. Her fundraising skills have brought in more than $40,000 to Palm Beach County schools. She has prepared the Five Star School Award portfolio for two different schools. Last year, when Hodges had to take some time off, six people were needed to cover all her responsibilities.
One youth, adult and senior school volunteer is selected annually from the five regions of Florida for Outstanding School Volunteer of the Year honors. The criteria for selection is based on the number of service hours, years of service, type of contribution and uniqueness of services rendered.
Region V consists of Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. “We currently have approximately 34,000 volunteers in our schools and each one is invaluable,” School District Volunteer Program Coordinator Debi Elfen said. “It is thrilling when I am able to provide extra recognition for those who are truly outstanding. Harrison and Lenore are super stars, and we are fortunate to have them.”
The winners will receive a plaque from the Department of Education at the Volunteer and Business Partnerships Awards Breakfast to be held May 9 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts.
ABOVE: Harrison Harward