YouthFriends coordinators earn recognition
The two coordinators of the Basehor-Linwood School District YouthFriends Program have earned national recognition for their volunteer work in the community during the last year.
Although the award was officially given to YouthFriends co-coordinator Mary Leonard, it was the intention of Glenwood Ridge Elementary School counselor Marilyn McGown, who nominated both Leonard and YouthFriends coordinator Tammy Potts, for both volunteers to win the award.
"Each of them has volunteered over 1,000 hours to get the YouthFriends program started," McGown said. "They have done a wonderful job of placing volunteers in the school district. They have modeled what a good volunteer does."
YouthFriends is a volunteer organization that places mentors with students in the school district. The program has been highly successful since its inception in 2000, and has saved the school district more than $100,000 in payroll, district officials said.
The Eckerd Drug Corporation gave out the awards to the top 100 volunteers in the nation. This year is the fourth year that the company has acknowledged women who volunteer in their community.
Because of a stipulation on the nomination form, only Leonard was officially recognized as an award winner. McGown had made the nomination in both names, but only one could be officially named to the top 100 list. Leonard, however, said the award deserved to go to both herself and Potts. She said the YouthFriends program could not have gotten started without Potts.
"In every aspect Tammy is as much deserving as I am," she said.
Potts was equally diplomatic in her praise of the efforts of Leonard. She said the program was Leonard's idea and was happy to see her recognized for the award.
"I am really proud of her," Potts said. "I keep telling her I am her biggest fan. She is awesome and very modest."
Leonard, who was also named Basehor Citizen of the Year earlier this summer, will be awarded a trip to Florida as part of being named one of the top volunteers. Potts will also make the trip with Leonard to the Sunshine State.
In Florida, the duo will attend a ceremony commemorating the award winners and a seminar on better understanding of how to volunteer.
As part of the award, the YouthFriends program will be given a $1,000 grant. The money will be used to provide a grant to a graduating senior who chooses to pursue a degree in education, Leonard said.
Some of the grant funds will also be used to recognize some of the existing YouthFriends volunteers, she said.
"The award to the program is important because we are not funded by the school district except for basic operating costs," Leonard said. "The grant gives us ways to do things and help subsidize some of the needs we have."
While the YouthFriends program continues to succeed, the two coordinators said several new programs would be unveiled this year.
On Tuesday, Sept. 4, the program instituted a Care Cats program. The program, which is in partnership with Basehor-Linwood High School, places high school students in the elementary school and middle schools as mentors and tutors.
"We are trying heavily to put volunteers in the middle school and high school which is one of our communities greatest needs," Potts said.
The number of volunteers in the YouthFriends program is expected to rise this year. There were 114 volunteers last year and Potts expects 150 people to volunteer this year.