Four 'Young Heroes' win Liberty awards

Loc­al stu­dents awar­ded for com­munity ser­vice.

Bailee and Brenna Heim, from St. Mat­thew School, re­cieve the Young Her­oes Award at the Na­tion­al Liberty Mu­seum for fun­drais­ing for loc­al and na­tion­al or­gan­iz­a­tions. In ad­di­tion to school activ­it­ies, the twin sis­ters look out for one an­oth­er, and Brenna al­ways makes sure her sis­ter, who has sev­er­al ser­i­ous health prob­lems, re­cieves her work if she needs to miss school to go to the doc­tor. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

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.


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

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