Washington TownshipMontgomery County, Ohio

Community Service Award

Community Service Award

Sanjana Yerubandi Has Logged More than 700 Volunteer Hours

Whether she's cleaning up wetlands in a pair of jeans or dancing in a colorful costume to raise funds for a homeless shelter, Sanjana Yerubandi has one thing in mind: using her varied interests and talents to help others.

Community Service Award

Trustees Establish Scholarship

Starting this year, the Community Service Award recipient receives a $500 scholarship along with a proclamation and recognition.

"The township is paying it forward by establishing a scholarship that is awarded annually," said Trustee President Scott Paulson. "We want to not only recognize these outstanding students, but assist them on their path."

Trustees established the Community Service Award to recognize student volunteers and, in the process, draw attention to the importance of public service. "By recognizing students who are generous with their time, we hope to foster an ethic of voluntarism among the next generation. Service is an important aspect of citizenship and volunteers are essential if we are to create and maintain strong, vibrant communities," he said.

The recent Centerville High School graduate has logged more than 700 volunteer hours in a wide variety of settings – including two hospitals, a food bank, Environmental Club and library. She also has mentored freshmen and tutored students in violin, chemistry and other subjects. To honor her efforts, trustees have presented her with the 16th annual Community Service Award.

"Sanjana is one of the best examples of hard work and selflessness at Centerville High School. She is an outstanding young lady who embodies scholarship, leadership, service and character," said Andrew Yuker, a service club advisor who helps coordinate the award.

As an advocate for the environment, Sanjana has helped collect recyclable materials, raise awareness about recycling, and clean up the Beavercreek Wetlands, an effort that included cutting down old fence, removing invasive plants, and building a boardwalk. As a hospital volunteer, she distributed supplies, transported patients, and stocked hospital rooms. "I saw people in such a vulnerable time in their lives. I learned that no act of kindness is too small," said Sanjana, who intends to apply those insights as a physician someday.

But Sanjana's most eye-opening experience was her work with Second Harvest Food Bank. "I saw so many hardworking and kind people struggling to afford food, shelter and basic health care. It really expanded my experience of the world and has shaped my views about equity and inclusion," she said. It also inspired her to take another step, to produce hand-made hats, scarves, ponchos, bags and blankets for homeless people. The project required that she purchase materials and oversee assembly and delivery in coordination with the Youth Group for Indian Culture.

Community Service AwardDespite wide-ranging volunteer projects, Sanjana does not have a favorite: "They were all really special to me. Every one exposed me to something new. Service has taught me to celebrate our differences while appreciating what unites us. It's the key to breaking down barriers and creating true equality," she said.

Each project also has helped her fulfill a desire to give back to her community. "My parents are my role models. Their selfless activities have sparked an interest in me," Sanjana said. "I've seen them helping our Indian community. They're always giving, never expecting anything in return."

Her advice to other students? "Never hesitate. If you feel passionate about something, take an active role in making it work. If you wholeheartedly work towards achieving something, you will gain personal satisfaction because one of the best feelings in the world is knowing that you have positively impacted someone's life."

Besides volunteering, Sanjana has played violin in the school orchestra and participated in tennis, track, Spanish Honor Society and Poetry Club. Most notably, she has attained the Community Service AwardGold Medal from the Congressional Award for Youth, one of the highest accomplishments a US teen can complete. The daughter of Venugopal and Sheela Yerubandi, 1208 Ripplecreek Ct., Sanjana plans to study medical sciences at the University of Cincinnati.

Community Service Award Selection

Community Service Award selection is made by the advisors of Centerville High School's four service organizations: Key Club, Octagon Club, Interact Club and National Honor Society. Recognition is given to the student who, through his or her sustained efforts, best exemplifies the spirit of service to the local, national or international community. Scholastic achievement is not a key factor in the award.

Community Service Award