RAYA seeks nominations for Youth Recognition Awards

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published February 20, 2013

ROCHESTER — For 39 years, the Rochester Area Youth Assistance has been honoring local children and teens for their outstanding community service efforts with the Youth Recognition Awards.

This year’s program, which has a “Because of You” theme, will honor young people in kindergarten through 12th grade who reside within the Rochester Community Schools district.

Cathy Womack, a caseworker for RAYA, said the awards program is just one way RAYA can recognize the many kids who are doing fabulous things for the community.

“We look for youth who have either overcome maybe a major obstacle or demonstrated personal perseverance or have found some extraordinary strength in reaching beyond a certain limitation, or have volunteered significant time to an individual or an organization or our community,” Womack said. “Some of the past recipients have participated in local nonprofits, they’ve reached out to others in a new way, overcome a physical/health or a personal situation, or showed significant leadership in new or existing programs.”

Those who wish to nominate a student are asked to visit www.raya-mi.org and fill out a nomination form and return it to the RAYA office, located in the theater arts wing of Rochester Adams High School, by March 1. Nomination forms are also available in person at the RAYA office.

A committee of judges, comprising various RAYA and elected officials, reviews the nominations and selects winners. Students chosen to receive an award are invited to attend a banquet in their honor March 26 at the River Crest Banquet Hall in Rochester Hills

Last year, 33 students received a Youth Recognition Award.

“A lot of the kids are just doing extraordinary things that somehow we don’t hear about because it’s not in the normal realm of academics or sports; it’s volunteering. It’s just so inspirational,” said RAYA board member JoAnna VanRaaphorst. “It’s just a really neat way to recognize kids for the selfless things that they do that you normally wouldn’t know about.”

This year, one of the senior Youth Recognition Award nominees will be awarded a $500 Judith Coats Memorial Scholarship.

In addition to the Youth Recognition Awards program, RAYA offers short-term counseling, mentor programs, family education classes and financial assistance to qualifying families for before- and after-school programs, as well as Camp Safari through the Rochester Avon Recreational Authority. For more information, call (248) 656-3558.