Whiz Kids: Julia and James Meslener
Accomplishment: The siblings are recipients of the 2012 Youth Special Recognition Salute by the Salvation Army.
Key to Awesomeness: For the Meslener family, helping out is just part of their regular weekend routine. Ninth-grader James and eleventh-grader Julia, have been spending each Saturday morning in a Salvation Army food van with their mother Chrissy, who drives to Grace Methodist Church in Putnam County. Loaded with hot and cold breakfast items, they serve people who are hungry and are in need.
“My kids do not do this for community service hours or for the recognition,” their mother said. “They think it is cool to help and it has become just something we do.”
Envoy Chaka Watch said the brother and sister had volunteered for summer camp last year and the pair was very popular with the 6-12 year old campers they oversaw.
“James and Julia showed a willingness to love these children who they did not even know.” Watch said.
The siblings, whose family lives in Garrison, kept volunteering after the summer by helping with the breakfast program and continue to do so, early in the morning each Saturday.
“We have 120 families coming from around Putnam Valley and James and Julia have given tirelessly of their time to help out,” Watch added. For this service, they will be honored at the Salvation Army Red Carpet Gala, taking place on May 17 at the in Cortlandt Manor.
It is billed as a formal “red carpet” event, where the guests and honorees are treated as celebrities—with all proceeds going to programs run at the Salvation Army, and toward the construction costs for a new dining area.
They join other honorees including Nancy Dill, who is receiving the Humanitarian Salute, ShopRite Supermarket Inc. which is being recognized for the Corporate Salute, and Sam Sanchez who will get the Volunteer Salute.
Julia Meslener, 16, an amateur photographer and horseback rider in her spare time, said she had worked at last year's Salvation Army Gala taking photos—and is very excited to go this year as an honoree. Serving the organization has been a pleasure for her.
“I really love getting to know the people who come to eat breakfast—their names and their stories,” she said. “I’d like everyone to know that doing charity work is not a drag—it would surprise you how fun and rewarding it is.”
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