There’s more to community service than doing good works. There are golf carts to dodge and the temptation of freshly baked cupcakes to resist.
Antoinette Dawkins, 18, a recent Frankford High grad, on Thursday recalled being among a cluster of volunteers cleaning up a Northeast park this year and having to stay fast on her feet. Another volunteer was tooling around the park in a golf cart and sometimes drove right through the crowd.
Not a lot of speed was involved so nobody was hurt.
“She just told people, ‘Dust yourself off,’ ” and kept going,” Dawkins said of the wayward driver before accepting a Young Heroes Award at the National Liberty Museum in Center City.
Three other young Northeast residents were among 17 honored Aug. 9 for their community service: Jared Celona, a recent Archbishop Ryan grad, and twins Bailee and Brenna Heim, St. Matthew seventh graders.
Brenna and Bailee, who were honored for their volunteerism, recalled being stuck in their house on the last weekend of August 2011 with a mother lode of comfort food.
They had just completed baking 500 cupcakes that they were going to frost and sell to raise money for a hospital, when Hurricane Irene hit, Brenna said. Bailee, Brenna, their family and the cupcakes were trapped inside together as almost 6 inches of rain fell outside.
Casualties were high, said their mom, Danielle. Only 400 cupcakes were put on sale, and everybody in the family was pretty much done with sweets for a while, she said.
YOUNG AND INSPIRING
In the 12 years it has existed, the National Liberty Museum at 328 Chestnut St. has been honoring young people from the city and suburbs for being neighborhood assets, for doing more.
A lot more.
Dawkins of the 1600 block of Harrison St. has logged almost 1,500 hours of community service. It would be difficult to think of something she hasn’t been involved in — park cleanups, Red Cross, Junior ROTC, food drives, clothing drives, Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity. She was active in her high school and was a mentor for sixth graders. Dawkins was recommended for a Young Hero award by teacher and mentor, retired 1st Sgt. Joe Fraioli.
Emcee Sue Serio of Fox 29 told the crowd of honorees, their parents and others that working on a newscast can be depressing at times.
“This is uplifting,” she said of the awards ceremony.
These young people “already have stepped forward to establish themselves as models and … leaders,” said the museum’s board president, Doug Tozour.
Brenna and Bailee Heim, 12, of the 3100 block of Windish St., stepped up pretty early. They were nominated by their St. Matt’s fifth-grade teacher, Claire Lannutti, who called them her “most inspirational students.”
The two always volunteer to help. They hold yard sales and run lemonade stands to raise money for charities, including the Komen Foundation.
Bailee said she and her sister were surprised by the loyalty of one of their lemonade stand customers. He complimented the Mayfair twins for their good work and kept coming back for more lemonade.
“He was gone and then he was back again,” Bailee said, adding that the single customer accounted for about $100 of the funds they raised.
Jared Celona, 18, of Southampton Road in Somerton was nominated by his mother, Michele, for all his community work. Celona mentored and tutored other Ryan students, volunteered for Aid for Friends and has been active for a dozen years in the Boy Scouts. Celona was out of town Thursday so his mother and sister, Gabriele, accepted his award.
Michele Celona said her son’s Eagle Scout project required extra patience because things kept happening outside of “Jared’s organizational control.” He was leading a group that was improving a public garden in Lower Southampton, but the paving stones required for the project were delivered hours late, which lengthened the work day. The day’s work extended over the next several weeks because the plantings were endangered by a lack of rainfall and Jared had to return the garden to keep everything healthy.
“A lesson in persistence was truly learned,” Michele Celona said.
“You deserve recognition for all the wonderful things you do,” museum CEO Gwen Borowsky told the assembled award recipients.
Theodore Caputi, one of the 2011 honorees, told this year’s Young Heroes they were being lauded because they saw opportunities to serve their communities. That’s something they should keep in mind, he told them.
ldquo;Go anywhere you see a problem and give other people an opportunity to serve,” he said.
Reach John Loftus at 215-354-3110 or firstname.lastname@example.org