Student who dedicates life to service named 2010 annual Jefferson Awards ‘Champion’

February 22, 2011 | Features, UToday
By Sarah Ritenour

Jessica Kelley, left, and Jaime Schuette took a break from mission work in Jamaica to play with local children.

Jessica Kelley, left, and Jaime Schuette took a break from mission work in Jamaica to play with local children.

Jessica Kelley, a senior at The University of Toledo majoring in geography and planning, has spent much of her college career performing community service.

Due to her service in the UT community, the Toledo community, and communities across the country, she has been named the 2010 annual Jefferson Awards for Public Service “Champion” winner.

“I was really surprised; I never thought I would be nominated for my service, let alone win something for it,” Kelley said. “Recognition is not at all why I volunteer, but I am so thankful to be acknowledged and grateful to Father [James] Bacik for nominating me.”

To list all of the events, clubs, organizations and activities in which she has participated in would fill the page, though a few include Campus HEAT, Habitat for Humanity, Josina Lott, and the Spirit of America Foundation.

She has had leadership roles in most of the organizations and has mobilized other students on campus.

“I believe we are all called to serve one another; it is like we owe it to each other,” she answered when asked why she volunteers. “I feel I’ve gained more by volunteering than the people I have helped.”

Bacik, pastor of Corpus Christi University Parish, nominated her because she has “impacted the community greatly, she has a commitment to helping those less fortunate, and a deep respect for the dignity and worth of every individual person.”

Descriptions her other nominators used were reliable, trustworthy, dedicated and a strong leader. They mentioned that the events she took part in would not have been as successful without her help.

“The Jefferson Awards recognizes people who perform extraordinary acts of volunteer public service within their communities,” Bacik said. “Jessica Kelley is indeed an impressive representative of the high ideals of the Jefferson Awards.”

“I would encourage everyone to participate in some sort of community service because it ties us all together; it makes us aware that we are part of a bigger picture,” Kelley said.

As UT’s annual honoree, Kelley has the opportunity to attend a national Jefferson Awards seminar this June in Washington, D.C.

If you know of an unsung hero who dedicates his or her time to volunteering and community service, be sure to submit a nomination for the Jefferson Awards. You can do so at here, and on the new Facebook page, The University of Toledo Jefferson Awards.

The newly updated Facebook page will include information and photos of the monthly honorees, volunteer information and updates on nomination deadlines.

The deadline for this month’s nominations is 9 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23.

Click to access the login or register cheese