As Real Estate Agents, we believe it is important to contribute to the communities in which we live and work. Each year, we are impressed by the variety of nominations we receive for our Unsung Hero Program and this year was no exception. We were amazed by all of the accomplishments of the nominees. From volunteering hundreds of hours to working with non-profit organizations to creating their own benefits, clubs, and organizations, these students shined with their commitment to bettering the world for the greater good.
Each and every student that was nominated accomplished something great and they are all Unsung Heroes in our eyes. Below we share the untold stories of these lesser known heroes in our community.
Samantha Gonzalez-Cordero possesses a cultural awareness that provides her a mature perspective and holistic outlook on life. A group that plays a huge part in her life is AALead -which stands for Asian American Leadership, Empowerment & Development. Hesitant at first, because she was of Latin background, this young woman was unsure if she would fit in. However, she now says "staying in AALead has been one of the best decisions I've made." This summer she helped make history planning the first ever DC Asian Pacific-America Youth Summit. Never forgetting her heritage, Samantha is an active member in the Jaime Escalante Honors Society and helps make a difference in the Hispanic community. Samantha is a student at Albert Einstein High School and was nominated by her Counselor.
Michael Jan Linsangan Torres has demonstrated selflessness, service and commitment to the community in a variety of ways. Foremost, being his leadership in his school's anti-bullying group HERO - Helping Others Respect Everyone. He has been the constant energy behind this group in all their activities, including creating a video for an anti-bullying contest and travelling to the local elementary and middle school to promote the anti-bullying message. In addition, he also uses his technical skills and abilities to assist staff with their technical difficulties. He serves as a Falcon Ambassador, someone who represents the school in welcoming new students. Although he has come from a family with limited means, this young man always gives 100% of himself. Michael is a student at Poolesville High School.
During Deborah Greengold's 1st year in JROTC, she volunteered to assist the Battalion Special Projects Officer and this year she was selected to be the primary Projects Officer. She is responsible for developing meaningful service learning projects and community support that has resulted in JROTC cadets donating over 10,000 hours this school year in support of organizations like the Howard County Food Bank, Lorien Nursing Home, and Howard High School. Debra was nominated by her Teacher and Army JROTC Instructor. She is a student at Howard High School.
At monthly Montgomery County Council of PTA meetings, Richie Yarrow is the youngest officer by nearly thirty years. Dressed in a suit, he is the only one present who has been in a classroom in the past day or decade! This young man attends each and every MCCPTA event and does so gladly. He is the organization's Recording Secretary, a demanding and thankless job, and does his job masterfully. Be it early in the morning or late at night he is ever the observer, cheerleader or point-of-view provider. His tireless dedication to improving our schools benefits us all. Richie was nominated by a member of the Montgomery County Council of PTA Delegates, and attends Richard Montgomery High School.
Christopher Evans maintains a 4.0 GPA, plays soccer, runs track, and is President of the Atholton High School Best Buddies Club. As part of his extracurricular activities, he volunteers extensively for Special Olympics Howard County . In his such a short period of time, he has enriched the lives of our most vulnerable population, those individuals with cognitive disabilities. On Thursday evenings and Sundays from January through March, he works with the Special Olympics Howard County alpine ski team where he is a unified partner. Volunteering with those who are disabled is often unrecognized beyond the small community it touches but is means everything to him. Christopher Evans is a student at Atholton High School.
At the end of her freshman year, Amanda Shannon was diagnosed with cancer. Her maturity and optimism made a lasting impression on all who know her. Last summer, she began volunteering in the Infusion Center, greeting patients and providing comfort. After facing cancer herself, one would understand if she chose to avoid reminders of her illness. Instead, she was an inspiration to patients, treating them with sensitivity and compassion that only someone who shared their difficult experience could offer. She was recommended by a Medical Director at the Cancer Institute and was nominated by her mother. Amanda is a student at Liberty High School.
Oumou Diallo moved to the United States in 2010 from Guinea. She was forced to leave both her mother and father because her uncles were getting ready to give her away in marriage. With her parent's help, she was able to flee the country and come to America to pursue her dreams instead of being sold off at 14 and getting married. She has hundreds of hours documented and even more non-documented community service projects that she has been committed to. She has also raised funds and awareness about the lack of proper education in Africa. She has earned different awards in her short tenure in high school. Her goal is to attend a 4 year university and become an expert in accounting, international business, and the arts. Oumou is a student at Montgomery Blair High School.
Alexis Ross is the founder of a charitable organization called Live, Hope, Laugh. The Live, Hope, Laugh organization benefits teens and children affected by chronic illnesses in Carroll County. Some of the wonderful things she has done over the past few years include: Providing pajamas and teddy bears for pajama party packages to kids in the hospitals which she personally delivers. She writes letters to chronically ill children in the hospital, and at Christmas time, she provides a small tree to light up their rooms with an angel on top to watch over them. She has collected, personally wrapped and donated toys over the holidays to families with children that have chronic illnesses. The list could go on and on. Alexis Ross is a student at Westminster High School.
The oldest of 7 children, Andrew Didio has a sense of responsibility and caring that go beyond his years. He has accumulated over one thousand hours of volunteer service through his church in the community and abroad. This is a very significant accomplishment for a high school student, considering that graduation requirements are for seventy-five hours of service learning and Andrew has accrued over thirteen times that amount. He has been active in school activities, as a member of the National Honor Society, and as a Historian for the National Art Honor Society. He also works as a peer tutor in the National Honor Society peer tutoring program. He has traveled to such diverse countries as the Ukraine and Haiti, and states that this has been the activity that has had the most meaning for him. Andrew was nominated by his teacher. He is a student at Westminster High School.
Completing a science fair project comparing the biodegradability of various lunch tray materials, Rhea Malik continued her project on her own and presented a cost analysis and proposal to the school board to begin a composting program and to pilot the switch from Styrofoam lunch trays to bagasse trays. (Bagasse is a fibrous matter that remains after sugarcane stalks are crushed to extract their juice. It is currently used in the manufacture of pulp and paper products and building materials.) Rhea provided substantial research on the environmental and health concerns associated with Styrofoam use by individuals. She has researched the legalities and logistics of instituting a program of this scale at the school and has persevered despite many challenges. Composting will begin at Long Reach High School this spring and the use of compostable trays should follow shortly thereafter. Aside from saving the school system a significant amount of money, her composting initiative will be one step towards a healthier environment. She is now working with Healthy Howard to promote sustainable changes to our community. Rhea experienced both physical and mental abuse as a child and her personal experience with domestic violence has driven her to help others. Rather than being angry or bitter, she channeled her energy into helping others by becoming a Youth Ambassador for the Empowerment Movement, a program that works with children who are affected by domestic violence. Her volunteer work with children spans the globe. She has volunteered in Medical clinics in India and is a member of the Invisible Children organization. She doesn't seek out recognition or praise; she leads by example and is a true model of altruism. Rhea was nominated by two of her teachers. Rhea is a student at Long Reach High School.
For the first time in the history of our Unsung program, one student received multiple nominations. Howard County Council member, Mary Kay Sigaty was so inspired by Jadon Ramsing's commitment to giving back that she took time from her busy schedule to nominate him. In addition, he received nominations from a close friend, his youth leader and mentor, as well as a nomination from a friend of the family. Jadon spent a year volunteering in Africa to teach, serve, and support a primary school with approximately 350 students. He even returned for a summer to run a sports camp. He participated in trips abroad to provide clean water and adequate educational facilities to residents in Nicaragua and Uganda. While on a trip to Africa, he demonstrated his ability to connect his team members with villagers by using his knowledge of the local dialect to speak in front of large crowds. His easy demeanor in speaking humbly allowed the village people to be at ease with their American counterparts, creating an environment of sharing and cooperation. He went to Alabama for tornado relief. He volunteers at Samaritan Woman and as a Coach. He is a very active member of the youth program at Grace Community Church where he helps plan and lead large (roughly 250 student) programs. He is also a student leader for "Food for Tomorrow," a non-profit organization that provides food for the Howard County Food Bank. While working on the project to raise food and money for the Howard County Food Bank, he actively sought out an internship in the Council office to learn more about the work of local government and to participate in a student led campaign to raise awareness for the needs of lower-income families in Howard County. He is keenly aware of the work involved in meeting the basic needs of people in his community and around the world. He intends to pursue a career focused on the development of a non-profit organization serving a community to meet its basic needs of safe food, clean water, adequate housing and opportunities for education. Jadon is a student at Wilde Lake High School.
We are so honored to recognize these individuals who have made intelligent choices which have impacted others in a positive way, and whose volunteerism may have gone unnoticed. These students are our future business and community leaders. Their focus and intensity on their goals truly makes a difference in the lives of others. For more information on our Unsung Hero Program, visit www.unsunghero2012.com.