Anchorage, Alaska -- Alaska Communications, in partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska, announced its six 2015 Summer of Heroes honorees Sunday, Aug. 30, at the Alaska State Fair. At the ceremony, Corey Allen-Young joined Bill Bishop, senior vice president, business market, at Alaska Communications, and Alana Humphrey, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska, to recognize this year’s heroes for their community service efforts and present each youth with a $1,500 scholarship check.
Celebrating its fifth year, the Summer of Heroes program promotes awareness and support for youth development programs throughout the state. As part of the program, Alaska Communications and Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska recognize youth who make significant contributions to his or her community through acts of generosity, courage or achievement.
This year’s Summer of Heroes honorees hail from Anchorage and Kenai and range from ages 10 to 18. The 2015 heroes are:
- Kathryn Casello, age 18, Anchorage – When her family moved to Alaska after her father’s military relocation, Kathryn noticed that suicide was a huge issue in her new community and knew she had to help. Kathryn created the YOU ARE NOT ALONE (YANA) youth suicide prevention program, a peer-to-peer program to educate students throughout Alaska. The organization distributes wristbands with the Alaska Careline information, offers support classes in schools, and more. This fall, Kathryn will start her undergraduate education at the University of Alaska Anchorage in the school’s social work program, and plans to continue her YANA work while in college, serving as a class facilitator and leading awareness talks.
- Marguerite Ruth Cox, age 18, Kenai – Upon learning that the Kenai Peninsula fire department did not have emergency response oxygen masks designed for animals, Marguerite knew she had to help. She organized bake sales and successfully raised enough funds to purchase 21 new mask kits. Additionally, Marguerite founded the Domestic Animal Protection League, a local nonprofit organization created to better the lives of domestic animals. Marguerite is also a member of Boys and Girls Clubs – Alaska and has served as a volunteer for the Nikiski Middle High Clubhouse. This fall, Marguerite will begin pursuing a degree in social work, specializing in the growing field of veterinary social work to align with her passion for and existing work with animals.
- Rachel Bedsworth, age 18, Anchorage – Since age six, Rachel has been placed in 46 different foster homes and attended multiple schools. Instead of letting this get her down, Rachel found a true passion for helping others. Rachel serves as the Anchorage Representative for Facing Foster Care in Alaska (FFCA), an organization she has been involved with since 2012. In her role, Rachel shares her personal story with social workers, caregivers, judges and state lawmakers to improve the Office of Children’s Services and ensure that future foster children have a better experience than she has had. Rachel also brings together youth from across Alaska for retreats to discuss challenges and ways to achieve despite their circumstances. Rachel will attend the University of Alaska Anchorage in the fall.
- William Scannell, age 10, Anchorage – After learning about Arabic countries and cultures in school, William spearheaded a winter clothing drive in Alaska for Syrian refuges, which resulted in a donation of more than half a ton of clothing. The following year he started the “Any Refugee” project, empowering Alaskans to reach out to refugee children around the world and send them a message of hope. This March, William traveled to Lebanon to visit schools and meet with children. William has also joined the Refugee Assistance & Immigration Services of Catholic Social Services Alaska as an outreach volunteer, and will be deployed to assist with refugee resettlement throughout Alaska.
- Quincy Donley, age 12, Anchorage – With a passion for community service, Quincy and her peers from her school’s leadership group volunteered last November at Salvation Army’s McKinnel House and collected hundreds of pounds of food for Thanksgiving. When the holiday arrived, Quincy spent her day serving meals to the families at the shelter. After learning that there was a severe lack of bedding, Quincy singlehandedly began a local blanket drive in her local community. She was able to deliver a full van of bedding to the shelter just before Christmas. This year for the back-to-school season, Quincy organized a project to provide homeless students with backpacks filled with essential school supplies and delivered the backpacks to students prior to the first day of school.
- Kaci Polsky, age 13, Anchorage – Kaci’s passion for helping younger children build their skills inspired her to become a soccer and volleyball coach youth ages 6-10 through Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska. In addition, Kaci helps her community by collecting trash through the National Junior Honor Society. Kaci is also involved with Kicks for Kids, an organization that collects shoes for children who live in poverty, as well as Dollars for Dogs, an organization that raises money for the Anchorage Police Department’s K-9 unit. In the future, Kaci would like to be a pediatrician, a career path that will help her continue to act as a hero to young children. Sarah is the recipient of the 2015 Summer of Heroes employee hero award, which recognizes a child of an Alaska Communications employee.
Since 2011, the Summer of Heroes program has recognized Alaska’s youth heroes. In addition to the scholarship program, Alaska Communications also pledged to donate $25 to Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska for every new Home or Business Internet contract signed during the nomination period, up to $15,000 total. The final donation amount will be announced during Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska’s 33rd Annual Auction Gala Sept. 26. In the first four years of the Summer of Heroes program, Alaska Communications contributed a total of $60,000 to Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska to support the non-profit’s high-quality youth development programming throughout Alaska.
“After five years of recognizing the great youth of Alaska, I am always humbled, impressed and inspired by the many ways in which our heroes demonstrate maturity beyond their years, passion and dedication to making the world a better place,” Alaska Communications President & CEO Anand Vadapalli said. “Alaska Communications is proud to recognize the contributions of our 2015 Summer of Heroes honorees.”
“Our six heroes identified needs in their local communities and beyond, and have shown great initiative by identifying solutions and rallying support for these causes,” Alana Humphrey, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska, said. “These young people demonstrate the best of Alaska, and we look forward to seeing what they accomplish in the years to come. We are pleased to join Alaska Communications in recognizing the accomplishments of local youth for our fifth consecutive year.”
For full biographies of each Summer of Heroes scholarship recipient and more information about Alaska Communications’ work in the community, visit http://www.alaskacommunications.com/summerofheroes.