'Teens Make a Difference' Awards Recognize Volunteers 2019

By Community News

From left to right: Carolyn Tillman, Darrell Frye, top student for volunteering Alexandria Lugo, Don Smith, Harold Vollkommer, Edward D’Souza, Doug Rowand, Shirli Driz. Courtesy photo

The 26th Annual Teens Make A Difference Awards Ceremony took place at Inland Center Mall's center court on Thursday, May 16th at 7:00pm and was hosted by Derek Harris from the Rialto Unified School District.

The ceremony recognized local high school students for their outstanding volunteer service at community places such as libraries, hospitals, schools, nonprofits and community based organizations.

A total of 47,980.93 hours of service were volunteered by 1,174 high school students from 13 schools in the past year. All students with 25 hours or more were recognized with awards and received a goodie bag filled with fun items donated by Arrowhead and Inland Empire United Way and Inland Center stores.

The top student with the most hours volunteered was Alexandria Lugo from Citrus Valley High School in Redlands who won the “Top Dawg” Award for volunteering 623 hours. She volunteered as a Redlands Fire Department Explorer which she volunteered in active shooter training, fill a boot fundraiser, save a burning child fundraiser, 12- hour ride-alongs, fire safety week participant, as a Cancer walk volunteer, performing in the Nutcracker for inner city kids, volunteered at Sandals Church, fed the homeless at the Lutheran Mission Church, Veterans Day Parade volunteer, Childhood Cancer Foundation volunteer, Ronald McDonald House volunteer, Hands Of Mercy volunteer building houses in Mexico, Inspire Choir helper and volunteered at a ballet studio for upcoming ballerinas.

The Top School Award went to Rialto High School for volunteering over 32,090 hours, double the hours volunteered last year, with 383 students. A big thanks to all the students and their school coordinator Patrick Kimmons.

The value of a volunteer service hour for 2019 is $25.43 as determined by the Independent Sector; therefore, a contribution valued at $1,220,155.04 has been provided to our community.

“It’s been 26 years since we started this program with only 35 students and each year there are more students volunteering and more hours volunteered. It’s been so exciting to see this program grow each year”, said Terri Relf, Senior Marketing Manager for Inland Center Mall. “These teens are role models and examples to their peers and they continue to teach others the importance of volunteering in their communities and to make a difference every day. The Teens Make A Difference program has been a wonderful way to recognize all the great things that young people do in their communities every day to benefit others.”

Communities that have benefited from volunteer hours performed by the students are: Colton, Grand Terrace, Highland, Loma Linda, Redlands, Rialto, San Bernardino and Yucaipa.

"Volunteering is a great learning experience, especially for teens," said Doug Rowand, President of Arrowhead United Way. “Not only are they learning new skills to become the leaders of the tomorrow, but they are changing the lives of those they come in contact with.”

“It was an impressive sight to see hundreds of students who have selflessly volunteered their hours to local causes that truly make a difference,” said Shirli Driz, Interim CEO Inland Empire United Way. “To think that the equivalent of over $1 million was generated in in-kind hours is an amazing feat by itself. On behalf of the Inland Empire United Way, I want to personally thank and congratulate all those students who participated in the awards."

Since the inception of the awards ceremony in 1993, United Way has recorded a total number of 16,766 volunteers completing 1,428,365.54 hours. This is a program of Inland Center Mall, Arrowhead United Way’s Volunteers United program and Inland Empire United Way’s Volunteer Initiative, 'ieVolunteers.'

Arrowhead and Inland Empire United Way thank Don Smith, Representative for Mayor John Valdivia, Darrell Frye, District Representative Office of Assembly Member Eloise Gomez Reyes, Harold Vollkommer, Deputy Superintendent for SBCUSD, Carolyn Tillman San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools and Edward D’Souza, representative from the Rialto school district who helped award certificates of recognition to the students.

The mall is located at 500 Inland Center Drive, San Bernardino. For more info call Inland Center Mall at (909) 884-7268 or log on to inlandcenter.com.

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