First Evergreen Scholarship Competition Winners

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We are happy to announce the winners of our very first Evergreen Scholarship Competition. We had an overwhelming response with an excess of 100 submissions, we would like to thank everyone who participated we thoroughly enjoyed reading your essays, and learning what community means to you.

We are proud to announce the winner of a $1,000 scholarship in the form of a gift certificate has been awarded to Sarah Joe resident of Estates of Aloma Woods. Our second place went to Julia Dundon of Victoria Hills. We have four 3rd place winners, each receiving $100 gift certificate, Aidan Lieberman, Maria Vazquez, Amanda Warner, and Tom Bellomo.

Sarah Joe – $1000 winner – Estates of Aloma Woods
Julian Dundon – $500 – Victoria Park
Aidan Lieberman – $100 – Bridgewater
Maria Vazquez – $100 – Artisan Park
Amanda Warner – $100 – Trailmark
Tom Bellomo – $100 – Victoria Park

Please see below our top 2 essays written by Sarah Joe and Julia Dundon.

Essay from Sarah Joe
“While shopping for groceries recently, I picked up a bag of chips and flipped it over to check the ingredient list. Something caught my attention: my chip bag was inviting me to join its “Facebook community”.

If even my groceries have a community, what does “community” even mean? Community has become an overused buzzword in today’s culture—a word whose meaning has been diminished and minimized as our society evolves. The same word is used to describe everything from people living in retirement homes together, all the individuals that use a specific social media app, and the people living in a certain geographical location.

In a broader sense, that is community – a group of people with stories, hopes, and dreams who are united together by a common thread. Whether that’s shared goals, mindsets, or experiences together, community is where individuals find common ground and perhaps a reflection of themselves in other people somehow.

Yet, intimate community goes deeper than that. The true community that we all yearn for is defined by acceptance and belonging for the individuals in the community and the stories or experiences they may bring, including their deepest joys and sorrows. And the secret sauce that’s necessary for that sense of belonging to happen? Genuine care for one another—intentional, meaningful, real relationships that seek to go beyond talking about the weather and what grocery store you normally go to. It’s the type of care that fosters trusts, which fosters collaboration, encouragement, and a constant network of support. At the end, communities are made up of people who do life together and don’t hesitate to reach out to one another, whether it’s to listen, serve, or simply love on one another.

Throughout high school, I’ve had the opportunity to express my passion for serving the greater community by volunteering as a summer counselor at the Orlando Science Center’s science camps for children for the past three summers. Whether that was explaining science experiments, teaching a concept, or simply playing and making friends with the kids, I experienced a deep joy as I shared my love of sciences to the students and saw the impact that those hours of serving had on these children.

In addition to serving the Orlando community at large, I was able to specifically serve the Asian American community by planning and coordinating events for the Asian community. Such events included the Lunar New Year Festival and Asian Culture Expo/International Dragonboat Festival that give Asian Americans an excuse to celebrate their cultural heritage together and connect with other like-minded individuals in a culture where they often struggle to be understood by non-minorities. Through this same organization for Asian American students, I was able connect with United Against Poverty Orlando and plan service events for Asian American students, empowering them to step outside of their comfort zone and interact with non-Asian Americans, as well as helping them to develop an attitude of empathy as they sought to understand those who came from such a differing social or economic status.

Through these experiences and more, I accumulated over a thousand hours of community service over the course of my high school years and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award. However, for me, serving my community goes far beyond receiving a pin and gaining another award to put on my resume: it’s a chance for me to use my gifts and time for the greater good, invest in the future generation and something bigger than me, and give back to a community that has already given me so much. As I served the community, I gained a greater appreciation for the people around me and their diverse backgrounds and experiences that shaped the way I viewed the world and the community that I continue to experience. In order to have a “successful” community that goes beyond surface-level interactions, we need to have a vision for our community, be intentional about investing our time and energy into that community, and build relationships with others that will foster growth and empathy”.

Essay from Julia Dundon
“If a random person was asked to define the word, “community”, they would likely describe it as the people and places that are nearest to where they live. They would likely fail to mention the significant impact that your community can have on you. In this past year, the way I think about my community has completely changed. After being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, I have gained a newfound appreciation for both my community and my home.
Being diagnosed with cancer as a senior in high school is something that no one would ever expect. During the toughest six months of my life, my community supported me every step of the way. From diagnosis to being in official remission, people from all different periods of my life reached out to my family and offered to help however they could. So many of these people were individuals who I haven’t seen or talked to in years. This is why I believe that a community is so much more than the people who are immediately around you. Your community is your old childhood babysitter, your former neighbor, and your elementary school teachers as well as your current friends and family. Your community is comprised of the people who are there for you when you need them most. They are the people who are ready to offer you love, patience, and support and ask for nothing in return. They are the people who are there for you when you need them; whether you see them every day or if you haven’t seen them in years. Because of my experience, I grew a greater appreciation for my personal community and the ways that they seek to uplift me. Without the selfless love of my friends and family, I seriously doubt that I would be the person I am today.
The MeStrong foundation is an aspect of my local community that I find absolutely inspiring. The work that they do to help those individuals afflicted by cancer is simply unprecedented. They work tirelessly to help both victims of cancer and their families both financially and emotionally. They supported my family and I during my battle with cancer and they help so many other people in similar ways. The impact that I observed from MeStrong foundation is what inspired me to find a charitable cause that I was passionate about. Once I came to Florida State University this year, I became an executive board member of the Autism Speaks U chapter at my school. Autism Speaks is an organization that raises money and awareness for research about Autism Spectrum Disorder. Each year, ASU puts on an awareness walk for people in the Tallahassee community. After participating in this event this year, I have come to realize how amazing this specific community was and have since fallen in love with the cause.
There is multitude of communities in the life of one person. As members of these communities, we have the opportunity to learn something about ourselves and about what we value as individuals. These different facets, these different communities, within our lives help to shape who we are. Community is an invaluable aspect of life and is an essential aspect of what it means to be human”.

Congratulations to all our winners!