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Niles, Cassopolis students receive United Way scholarship awards

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — United Way of Southwest Michigan bestowed this year’s Volunteer United Youth Scholarship Awards to one winner from each of the three counties in its area — Berrien, Cass and Van Buren — who have demonstrated a commitment to volunteerism through innovation, dedication and advocacy for community improvement throughout their high school careers.

In 2020, the annual scholarship award went to Anna Glomski of Paw Paw High School (now attending Concordia University Ann Arbor), Jonathan Leach, of Ross Beatty High School, Cassopolis (Southwestern Michigan College), and Zoey Martin, of Niles High School (Southwestern Michigan College).

Glomski volunteered with Young Explorers, Van Buren Youth Fair, Paw Paw Youth Soccer Camp, and Key Club Adopt A Family, and served as a chemistry tutor.

“Volunteering changes people’s lives and leaves a positive impact on those volunteering. It grows more leaders of the community and improves the quality of life for all,” Glomski said. She held positions in student government, ran cross country and track, and played soccer, serving as varsity team captain. She plans to study nursing.

Leach has several years of volunteer experience with Backpack Ministry, Operation Christmas Child, Adopt a Highway, and Cass County Medical Facility. He has taken mission trips to Peru, Nashville, Charleston, Newark and Vienna to serve children, seniors, the disabled and the hungry.

“Investing in people is more important than gaining material things,” he said. “I have been blessed and want to be a blessing to others.” He was a track medalist and honor student and has won academic and community service awards.

Since she was 14, Martin has been volunteering weekly with the disabled in assisted living. “When I started volunteering, I thought I was making a difference in their lives, but really, they made me become a better person,” Martin said. “They taught me about compassion and to simply love people for who they are and not to try to change them.” She ran cross country for three years and did four years of Science Olympiad. She plans to study civil engineering.

Each winner will receive a $1,500 scholarship made out to their college on their behalf. Only current high-school seniors are eligible to apply.

“When a young person shows a commitment to helping others early in life, that’s an indication of future success, and it benefits all of us in the community to support that person so they can continue to grow and contribute as they move into adulthood,” said Debbie Ramirez, volunteer engagement director at United Way of Southwest Michigan. “We are pleased to give back to those youth leaders who give so much of themselves.”

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