2015 Service Award Winner: Mikaela Haney



School: Hilliard Bradley High School
Parish: Sts. Simon and Jude
Grade: 12

Parish Involvement: 
I attend mass at least once a week. At my parish, I’m involved in my youth group (on the leadership team), I am an altar server, and I have helped lead Vacation Bible School every summer for the past 6 years. I am a part of the Diocesan Youth Council, and I always advertise the Diocesan events to my parish.

Describe the service you have performed:
I have been in service groups within my school, parish, and community. In my school, I had the honor of being the Service Project Chair for a service and leadership club, Jaguar Ambassadors, for the past two years. I helped organize and carry out many events, such as Pennies for Patients and Smile Train, and Teacher Appreciation Week. I also volunteer to tutor at an elementary school, tutor my peers in Spanish, help with Rotary Club events. At my parish, I have participated in Service Saturdays and Gospel Road with my youth group. We have also volunteered babysitting children in our parish, raking leaves for parishioners, making rosaries and writing notes for prisoners, visiting the nursing home, and many more. With the DYC, I have helped planned the diocesan events of the Youth Rally, Bosco Bash, Walking Stations, and Service Saturdays. In my community, I’m an active girl scout. We help with organizations such as Hospice Program, Young Woman’s Christian Association, Special Olympics, Feed by Faith, and Faith Mission. I have also volunteered at the Furniture Bank with a local service group. My family volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House every few months.

Essay on the importance of service and giving back to the community:
To me, the best part about doing service is the reward at the end. However, it’s not a tangible reward; it’s a reward in my heart. It is the reward of knowing that I have made a positive difference in someone’s life. The feeling in my heart while doing service makes it so worthwhile. I’m so thankful that I was born into a family that cherishes it so much. The summer before my sophomore year, I went to “Gospel Road” with my youth group. We were divided into random work groups with people that we didn’t know from other parishes, and we were assigned to local places to do service. My group was assigned to the house of an old couple who had trouble caring for it. We painted the walls inside, power washed and stained the deck, built a mailbox, cleaned windows, and did various yard work. The woman was so gracious that we helped her and she made us homemade lunches every day. There was something about her presence that warmed my heart. Her husband would tell us funny stories and life advice. The couple inspired me to be more thankful for my blessings and more of a devoted Christian. At the end of the week, I felt so humbled and couldn’t wait to go out in the real world to show the love of God to others. As I was leaving, my group chaperone stopped me and said, “Mikaela, this past week as I watched you do service, your happiness to serve others inspired me so much. I want to give this to you.” He took a cloth, camouflage bracelet off his wrist and put it around mine. He told me that it was called the “Service Bracelet” and when someone inspires you, you pass it on to them. He then thanked me for my commitment to service. The whole week I was inspired by the couple; I wasn’t expecting to inspire someone else through the process. But I did, and I feel so happy that someone was able to notice my happiness to serve others.