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Alaska Communications

About Summer of Heroes

Congratulations to the 2015 Heroes!

Alaska Communications and Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska are proud to recognize the 2015 Summer of Heroes honorees. The six youth heroes – five from the general program and one from the employee program – were selected from numerous youth nominations received from communities across the state.

This year’s honorees are Kathryn Casello of Anchorage, Rachel Bedsworth of Anchorage, William Scannell of Anchorage, Quincy Donley of Anchorage, Kaci Polsky of Anchorage and Marguerite Ruth Cox of Kenai. Alaska Communications presented each hero with a $1,500 scholarship during a ceremony at the Alaska State Fair in Palmer on Sunday, Aug. 30.

 

Meet the 2015 Heroes

Kathryn Casello, age 18, Anchorage

With a level of maturity uncommon in most teenagers, Kathryn Casello is a true community hero.

When her family moved to Alaska after her father’s military relocation, Kathryn quickly noticed that suicide was a huge issue in her new community and knew she had to help. Kathryn created the YOU ARE NOT ALONE (YANA) youth suicide prevention program, a peer-to-peer program to educate students throughout Alaska. The organization helps by distributing wristbands with the Alaska Careline information, offering support classes in school, training youth representatives, and more.

Since starting the program, the group has given out more than 20,000 wristbands to approximately 10,000 Alaska youths, resulting in a 40 percent increase in contact to the Alaska Careline. Kathryn has presented information about YANA and its goals to schools and youth groups in several communities across Alaska. Through YANA, more than 500 Alaska students have completed Suicide Prevention Training Classes.

Apart from her work with YANA, Kathryn serves as a youth representative to the Statewide Suicide Prevention Council, a role she was handpicked for by the governor.

This fall, Kathryn will start her undergraduate education at the University of Alaska Anchorage in the school’s social work program. Through the university’s recent partnership with YANA, Kathryn will continue her work while in college serving as a class facilitator and leading awareness talks. Kathryn will also continue to raise awareness for mental health policies by outreach to key legislators.

 

Rachel Bedsworth, age 18, Anchorage

Eighteen-year-old Rachel Bedsworth is the embodiment of resilience. At age six, Rachel was placed in foster care. Since then, she has moved through 46 foster care placements, multiple schools and a requirement to adapt to constant change.

Though this may have been a discouraging challenge to most, Rachel has succeeded against all odds. After working through some personal struggles, she realized that her true calling is helping others.

In order to help better the conditions of youth in foster care, Rachel serves as the Anchorage Representative for Facing Foster Care in Alaska (FFCA), an organization she has been involved with since 2012. In her role, Rachel shares her personal story with social workers, caregivers, judges and state lawmakers to improve the Office of Children’s Services and ensure that future foster children have a better experience than she has had.

With her firsthand understanding of the difficulties of being a foster child, Rachel brings together youth from across Alaska for retreats to discuss challenges and ways to succeed despite their circumstances. Rachel serves as both a role model and mentor to younger foster children.

A self-described “people person,” Rachel believes that helping others is something that everyone should do, and understands that people often need a supportive friend to lean on.

Rachel recently graduated from Dimond High School in Anchorage and will be starting at University of Alaska Anchorage in the fall. She plans to pursue a master’s degree after completing her undergraduate education. Rachel is dedicated to continuing to advocate for and help foster children in the future.

 

William Scannell, age 10, Anchorage

A highly gifted ten year old, William Scannell was first inspired to help the world after learning about Arabic countries and cultures in school.

William, who was accepted into John Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth at age six, spearheaded a winter clothing drive in Alaska for Syrian refugees. After speaking to local churches and businesses, and even collecting donations from his classmates at Pacific Northern Academy, William was able to gather more than half a ton of new and gently-used winter clothes.

The following year he started another initiative, empowering Alaskans and people everywhere with the ability to reach out to refugee children around the world and send them a message of hope. William’s “Any Refugee” project has touched thousands of lives and continues to grow.

This March, William returned from a trip to Lebanon where he visited schools for displaced persons in Beirut and Byblos. William collected postcards from the Syrian children and worked with his school in Anchorage to create an installation based on these postcards and other photographs taken during his trip.

Though he aims to help children around the globe, William is also proud to be an Alaskan. He has joined the Refugee Assistance & Immigration Services of Catholic Social Services Alaska as an outreach volunteer, and will be deployed to assist with refugee resettlement throughout Alaska.

William plans to continue his extraordinary contributions to society because he feels that as long as he can make one person feel happy, he is helping the entire world.

 

Quincy Donley, age 12, Anchorage

Through acts of kindness and selflessness, Quincy Donley has devoted herself to helping underserved communities.

Quincy is an integral part of her elementary school’s student leadership group. As a member, she has volunteered at Salvation Army’s McKinnel House, a shelter for homeless children and families. Last November, Quincy and her peers collected hundreds of pounds of food, which they organized in the McKinnel House pantry to prepare for the holiday season. When Thanksgiving Day came around, Quincy helped to serve meals to families at the shelter.

Quincy was deeply impacted by the needs of those living at the shelter. Upon speaking with the program director, she learned that there was a severe lack of bedding. Although there were many beds, there were rooms with several family members sleeping on one bed due to a shortage of sheets, blankets and pillows. This inspired Quincy to singlehandedly begin a local blanket drive. After seeking help from her local community, Quincy was able to deliver a van-full of bedding just before Christmas.

In 2015 for the back-to-school season, Quincy led a project that provided homeless students with backpacks filled with essential school supplies. She gathered the Anchorage School District’s school supply list and delivered the backpacks prior to the first day of school.

Quincy can be found skiing, biking and running cross country in her spare time.

 

Kaci Polsky, age 13, Anchorage

For Kaci Polsky, giving back to the community involves helping younger children—including her five younger siblings—be the best that they can be.

A soccer and volleyball player herself, Kaci saw the value in helping younger children build their technical skills, so she decided to become a coach. At the young age of 13, Kaci coaches children between the ages of six and 10 in both soccer and volleyball through Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska.

Outside of the sports realm, Kaci helps her community by collecting trash through the National Junior Honor Society. As a member of the organization, Kaci maintains her standing as a straight-A student—while also participating in volunteer projects. When not volunteering, she is an avid reader.

Kaci is involved in several other organizations that strive to make her community a better place. The first, called Kicks for Kids, collects shoes for children who live in poverty and cannot afford any otherwise. She also participates in Dollars for Dogs, an organization that raises money for the Anchorage Police Department’s K-9 unit.

In the future, Kaci would like to be a pediatrician, a career path that will help her continue to act as a hero to young children.

When she is not helping others, Kaci is playing soccer with her award-winning team, Alaska Rush.

 

Marguerite Ruth Cox, age 18,

Kenai A compassionate teenager, Marguerite Ruth Cox dedicates her free time to helping both animals and children in her community.

Upon learning that the Kenai Peninsula fire department did not have emergency response oxygen masks designed for animals, Marguerite knew she had to help. Marguerite organized bake sales and successfully raised enough funds to purchase 21 new mask kits for fire stations across the entire Kenai Peninsula. Ultimately, her goal is to have one mask available in every fire station in Alaska.

Additionally, in her pursuit of the humane treatment of animals, Marguerite is a founding member of Alaskans for Domestic Animal Protection, a local organization helping to rescue and better the lives of animals in her area.

Marguerite’s passion for community service goes beyond helping her four-legged friends.

As a member of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Kenai Peninsula for the past several years, Marguerite has served as a volunteer for the Nikiski Middle High Clubhouse. There she is involved in the Torch Club Service program, a club that gathers every week to brainstorm new ways to help the community. Because of her brother’s ongoing battle with asthma and the worsening of his symptoms around secondhand smoke, Marguerite is also involved in Teens Against Tobacco Use, where she visits different schools to teach students about the negative effects of smoking.

This fall, Marguerite will begin pursuing a degree in social work, specializing in the growing field of veterinary social work, so that she can continue helping animals in need.

 

About Summer of Heroes
Alaska Communications’ Summer of Heroes is a partnership program between Alaska Communications and Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska to promote Summer of Heroes Celebrates 5 Years
awareness and support for youth development programs throughout the state. Running from April through September 2015, the program includes two main components – a youth recognition program and a cause-related sales promotion – highlighted by several events throughout the summer to engage Alaskans and drive participation in a meaningful way.

Youth Recognition Program
Studies show that youth who are engaged in community service tend to do better in school, avoid risky behaviors, and maintain positive relationships with adults and peers. As part of the Summer of Heroes, Alaska Communications is working with Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska to recognize five outstanding young heroes, plus one hero from the Employee Program, who are making a difference in their local communities.

A hero can be any youth who has:

  • Volunteered or raised significant funds for a cause 
  • Made a difference in school through education or sports
  • Made a significant contribution to his or her community
  • Inspired others to take action 

Alaska Communications and Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska will select five outstanding local heroes based on their nomination forms and short answer responses. Selected heroes will receive a $1,500 scholarship and a trip to the 2015 recognition ceremony at the Alaska State Fair.

Cause-Related Sales Promotion

Alaska Communications recognizes that youth education and development programs, such as the programs provided by Boys & Girls Clubs, are critical to helping children succeed in life. During the Summer of Heroes, Alaska Communications pledged $25 to Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska for every new Home or Business Internet contract signed between April 28 and July 15, 2015, up to $15,000 total. This donation will help support Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska’s programs and expand the organization’s capacity to positively impact the lives of young people in Alaska. The final donation amount will be announced at the Boys & Girls Clubs-Alaska's Annual Auction Gala on September 26.

Alaska Communications started as a local telephone company and today is the leader in broadband and IT managed services in the state. As part of its ongoing commitment to the communities it serves, Alaska Communications engages in activities and programs to support causes that are most important to its employees and customers – youth education and development. Through cash and in-kind donations, employee volunteers, and community involvement programs, the company strives to improve the quality of life for all Alaskans.  

Join Boys & Girls Clubs - Alaska in its mission to help children succeed.

Customers can also donate directly to Boys & Girls Clubs-Alaska by clicking here.

Thank You to our 2015 Guest Judges!
Corey Allen-Young, KTUU-TV contributor
Ramey Smyth, Iditarod musher
Becca Moore, Iditarod musher
Rebecca Savidis, Foraker Group executive
Erin Kirkland, AKontheGo.com
Michelle Brown, United Way of Anchorage CEO
Deena Paramo, Mat-Su Borough School District superintendent
Ed Graff, Anchorage School District superintendent
Deborah Williams, Anchorage Youth Coalition executive
Bob Scanlon, Blood Bank of Alaska CEO
Lisa Murkowski, Alaska’s senior U.S. Senator

Summer of Heroes Partners
Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska
Alaska's leader in youth development, Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska is the official Alaska Communications charity partner for the annual Summer of Heroes program. Through its programs and services, Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska empowers and inspires the diverse youth of Alaska to realize their full potential by offering them hope, opportunity, and a safe environment.

Alaska Communications in the Community
Alaska Communications started as a local telephone company and today is the leader in broadband and IT managed services in the state. As part of its ongoing commitment to the communities it serves, Alaska Communications engages in activities and programs to support causes that are most important to its employees and customers – youth education and development. Through cash and in-kind donations, employee volunteers, and community involvement programs, the company strives to improve the quality of life for all Alaskans.
More information can be found on the company's website at www.alaskacommunications.com.

Contact Us

For questions on the Summer of Heroes program, please contact:

Hannah J. Blankenship
Associate Manager, Corporate Communications
Alaska Communications
907-564-1326

For up-to-date information on Summer of Heroes and events, connect with Alaska Communications on Facebook and Twitter.

 

For questions on Boys & Girls Clubs - Alaska’s youth development programs and how you can help make a difference in the lives of young people, please contact:

Jennifer Brown
Director of Development & Communications
Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska
907-249-5407

Summer of Heroes Events

Alaska Communications and Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska are hosting events all summer long to celebrate the Summer of Heroes program. Check out the following events to see how you can participate and show your support for youth programs in Alaska.

April 28
2015 Summer of Heroes nomination period opens
May 30
Color Run in Fairbanks
June 6
Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska soccer jamboree
June 27
Color Run in Anchorage
July 15
Deadline for 2015 Summer of Heroes nominations
Aug. 30
Summer of Heroes recognition ceremony at the Alaska State Fair
Sept. 26
Annual Boys & Girls Clubs – Alaska Auction Gala

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