Dearborn residents and Sacred Heart Parish members Anna Loftus (left), Lexie Kaplan, Celeste Holmes, Justin Grajek, Michael Brichta and Melvindale resident Michael Armstrong received Timothy Youth Awards of Recognition April 10 from the Western Wayne Vicariate of the Archdiocese of Detroit at St. Edith Parish in Livonia.
Isaac Wilson, 8, receives a plaque from Allen Park Mayor Gary Burtka at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. Isaac collects bottles to donate the proceeds to the Allen Park Animal Shelter. So far he has raised more than $600.
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
Whether they’re helping their fellow man or furry, four-legged friends, several local youths were honored recently for their volunteer service to their communities.
Boy collects bottles, cans
When allergies prevented 8-year-old Isaac Wilson of Allen Park from adopting a pet of his own, he decided to refocus his energy.
In the past six months he has helped pets like the ones he couldn’t adopt to find homes by raising over $600 for the city’s animal shelter.
The donations he has raised thus far from the ongoing bottle-and-can drive on his own block have caught the attention and admiration of city officials – and undoubtedly some appreciative four-legged friends as well.
Isaac is allergic to almost all household pets and most farm animals, said his mother, Mikeala Wilson.
“Since he can’t take care of pets at our home,” she said, “in October he just decided he was going to raise money to help take care of the homeless pets.”
With the City Council’s permission, Isaac and his parents began passing out bottle drive fliers to their neighbors on Balfour Avenue between Ecorse Road and Beverly Avenue. The Wilsons began by collecting bottles and cans from their neighbors every six weeks. Recently people have begun leaving returnable donations on their porch, some anonymously.
His parents originally agreed to match whatever he raised until the success of his fundraiser exceeded their own budgeted giving.
“This past weekend we raised about $170, but we obviously can’t match that,” Mikeala Wilson said. “It keeps getting higher and higher.”
Isaac’s parents contributed enough money to bring their most recent weekend’s collection total to $250, which allowed them to get all of the items on the Allen Park Animal Shelter’s wish list.
Isaac expressed his appreciation to city officials for both the recognition and the publicity for his cause. He also thanked his family and neighbors “for giving me bottles to help let me donate.”
For more information about the needs of the Allen Park Animal Shelter call (313) 282-6173 or go to www.petfinder.com/shelters/allenpark.html.
Catholic teens honored for service
Teens from Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn, whose volunteer work has included mission trip work across the country and as close as Detroit’s Cass Corridor, were recognized last Sunday with Timothy Youth Awards.
They joined 72 other teen honorees from the Northwest and Western Wayne Vicariate of the Archdiocese of Detroit for an afternoon appreciation event at St. Edith Parish in Livonia.
Julie Wieleba-Milkie, Sacred Heart’s director of religious education, presented the Award of Recognition to Michael Armstrong, a home-schooled senior from Melvindale, and to Dearborn residents Michael Brichta and Kyle Crane, both juniors at Divine Child High School; Justin Grajek, a junior at Dearborn High School; Celeste Holmes, a freshman at Edsel Ford High School; Lexie Kaplan, a senior at Dearborn High School and Anna Loftus, a junior at Livonia Ladywood High School.
Armstrong serves as a teen leader at Sacred Heart and at St. Sebastian parish in Dearborn Heights. A past mission trip participant, he is a sixth-grade catechist and vacation Bible school volunteer. He also helps feed the homeless with the Peanut Butter & Jelly Outreach in the Cass Corridor and has made blankets for teens at Covenant House.
Brichta, whose first mission trip took him to Rockford, Ill., said he discovered the satisfaction that comes from helping others while repairing homes for low income seniors last summer.
Grajek, who also serves as a teen leader at Sacred Heart and St. Sebastian, is an active volunteer for parish worship and fellowship activities and has volunteered for Covenant House, Pro-Life fundraisers, St. Vincent DePaul clothing drives and the Souper Bowl of Caring, a fundraiser for area food banks and soup kitchens. He said he takes satisfaction in being able to help make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate.
Holmes is very involved in parish liturgies, especially the music ministries and helps with vacation Bible school and religious education in volunteer leadership roles. She also volunteers her time and talents to many parish projects from charitable fundraising to flower planting.
Kaplan has volunteered with the religious education and vacation Bible school ministries. She also took part in a mission trip to Rockford, Ill., last summer. She also is involved in the parish music ministry, as well as community choral and instrumental performing groups.
Kaplan says her volunteer work has made her more aware of the many people who need both the help and prayers of others.
Loftus also is actively involved in the parish’s music ministry. She serves as a crew leader for vacation Bible school and as an assistant catechist with the summer religious education program. She also helps with the St. Vincent DePaul clothing drive.
The Timothy Youth Award of Recognition honors leadership commitment and service within a youth’s family, parish, school and wider community. Parishes may nominate up to eight students a year.
A 15-year tradition in the Western Wayne Vicariate of the Archdiocese of Detroit, it honors spiritual leadership and is not influenced by sports-related or academic accomplishments.
This year, 12 parishes from the Northwestern Wayne and Western Wayne vicariates, which includes Canton Township, Dearborn, Garden City, Livonia, Northville, Plymouth, Redford and Westland presented 66 Awards of Recognition and four Awards of Excellence.
In 2009 there were 271 parishes in the six-county Archdiocese of Detroit, which includes Lapeer, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair and Wayne counties, where demographic data identifies 32 percent of the population as Catholic.
The Downriver Vicariate held its second annual Timothy Youth Award recognition event April 3 at St. Constance Catholic Church in Taylor.