Since 2009, Indiana Connection magazine and electric co-ops like yours, have teamed up to honor middle school students in grades 5-8 who are making a difference in their communities through the Youth Power and Hope Awards program.
The latest group of winners was honored on Dec. 7 at the Indiana Electric Cooperatives Annual Meeting held in Indianapolis. Each winner received $500. Continue reading to meet these selfless young people who are focused on making the world a better place.
Lowell | Lowell Middle School | Seventh grader
Josephine Laub has learned there’s more than one way to make a difference in someone’s life. Among the projects she’s spearheaded are conducting a clothing drive, making face masks for first responders, sending letters to nursing home residents, and making Thanksgiving and Easter baskets for those in need.
“Community service helped me realize that there are people in the world with real problems,” she said. “During the clothing drive, this girl in high school came in and explained that she needed clothes for her younger brothers and sisters who she took care of. The world is imperfect, but this made me realize that I wanted to do more to change it.”
Laub noted through her service efforts, she’s honed her leadership skills. She’s learned how to solve problems, collaborate with others, manage her time better, be more dependable, and build trust.
In the future, she would like to create a food drive for her local food pantry, join her church’s youth group and get involved in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s charitable efforts.
Danville | Danville Community Middle School | Eighth grader
The main way Nathanel Origer has helped his community is through his school’s very active Student Council. Origer, a three-year council member who currently serves as its treasurer, has regularly volunteered at his school’s basketball and volleyball games to raise money for the school. He has also helped clean up the local park in his hometown of Danville.
Outside of Student Council, he helps on the altar during his church’s Saturday services and helps with a Vacation Bible School group and at church fish fries.
“Even if it’s just the small things, every good thing that you do is important,” Origer said. He believes, too, that helping others may inspire those who’ve been helped to do the same.
Origer is a firm believer that anyone can make a difference in their community. “There is no reason to limit someone based on their age, and doing good things should be a big goal, even for younger people like me,” he said.
Angola | Angola Middle School | Sixth grader
Niles Knox’s passion for community service was fueled in spring 2020 at the start of the pandemic. “After we were released from school for virtual learning in March, I found I had a lot of extra time,” he said. “My family and I thought of ways we could be a light during such a dark time.”
So, he got to work, doing things like cleaning trash off a community walking path and delivering Mobile Meals to the handicapped and those in need. In the process, he discovered how rewarding it was to make a difference — and how fun it was, too.
“I love the community where I have been able to grow up,” Knox said. “It is my home and I want to do my part to give back to others.” Through his community service, he has developed as a servant leader and is already planning ways to expand his efforts beyond his northeast Indiana home. “Our family has been talking about the destruction of homes in Louisiana during the last hurricane. We want to work with Samaritan’s Purse to help raise money and take a mission trip to help do whatever we can do to help,” Knox said. “We all have gifts we have been given that we should use to serve others.”