Posted by: The Evanston Review
Evanston community members joined the City of Evanston, Evanston Township High School (ETHS), the Evanston Community Foundation, and Northwestern University (NU) to celebrate outstanding volunteers on April 10. Local organizations and agencies nominated individuals to be recognized at the annual Evanston Volunteer Recognition Banquet at NU’s Norris Center.
The keynote speaker for the evening was ETHS senior Shamir Villeda. A finalist for the Gates Millennium Scholarship, Villeda shared his compelling story of coming to the United States from Guatemala in 2006. His journey is documented in a video produced by Immigrant Connect (http://www.immigrantconnect.org/2010/06/09/the-caged-bird-thrives-jorges-flight-from-guatemala/). At the time, an alias of “Jorge” was used to protect Shamir’s identity after he fled his country and his parents were killed by a Guatemalan gang.
Villeda has been a student at ETHS since 2008 when he moved to the Evanston home of his foster parents, Stephanie Russell and Alan Lindquist. He has volunteered with organizations such as Soup at Six and Best Buddies. This fall, Villeda will be an Evans Scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the College of Business.
Among this year’s Outstanding Volunteer honorees at the Evanston Volunteer Recognition Banquet were ETHS sophomores Tyler Dixon and Natalie Jacobson. Dixon is a committed volunteer and Youth Organizations Umbrella (Y.O.U.). Last summer she volunteered five days a week in an intensive position that involved facilitating group sessions – a position not previously facilitated by high school students. Jacobson volunteers consistently with various soup kitchens in the Evanston area, planning and attending orientations, events, and more. She is also a member of various student groups at ETHS, including Green Team.
The program also recognized this year’s nominees for Outstanding Volunteer, which included ETHS students Lydia Collins, Ramina Khuri, Isabel Sturla, Graig Tertulien, and ETHS staff member Montell Wilburn. Awards were presented by Burgwell Howard, Northwestern University’s dean of students; Eric Witherspoon, superintendent of ETHS District 202; and Sara Schastok, president and CEO of the Evanston Community Foundation.