Rising Star Award

This award will recognize an individual, under the age of 21, who has distinguished himself or herself in the community directly accredited to their inspiration, dedication, motivation, or acts of kindness. Nominees represent up-and-comers whose accomplishments in, and contributions to, our community make them stand out among their peers and position them as future leaders. A short essay on the nominee’s impact is necessary at time of nomination. Candidates may nominate themselves or be nominated by others. The top candidates that have achieved the most votes via an online poll will be further researched by an impartial judging panel to decide the ultimate winner.

Read the essays for each nominee, then cast your vote for this category below.

NOTE: The essays below have not been edited and are presented as originally shared by the author. They may contain grammatical or spelling errors.


Charity Health Resources, Inc.

At Metropolitan Ministries we have a rich history of volunteer leadership, multi-generational volunteerism, and sacrificially giving to care for homeless and at-risk families. I find Harsh Bagdy to be one of those exceptional standouts who are truly a hero for the poor and homeless in our community. Harsh has been a young philanthropist since his elementary school days and has made an impact at Metro when he coordinated the donation of lockers for our new elementary school a few years back. From donating items to homeless children to working in our Thrift Store, Harsh has made a positive difference. Recently, he has taken his pursuit of helping the less fortunate to a whole new level in providing walkers, canes, and wheelchairs to the at-risk population we serve every day. He has created his own nonprofit organization entitled Charity Health Resources and he freely partners with organizations like Metropolitan Ministries to help clients with mobility needs. This partnership is so very critical to our work in the community. As we spend more time out in the community we are finding more and more clients with mobility needs which has hampered their ability to receive services. Harsh’s desire to help one client at a time to meet their specific mobility needs has brought many tears of joy to the clients we serve. What I love about Harsh is that when we see a need, he responds to the need, and then personally gets involved to donate the item to the client. Harsh has demonstrated self-determination and leadership that exceeds my expectations. Activities which Harsh tackled on his own, include: finding a supplier for affordable mobility equipment, coordinating with Metro outreach workers to meet the exact need of the client, and coordinating the delivery/fulfillment of the need to the client.

Girl Scouts of West Central Florida

This year, Anne Bauer joined an elite group of women by earning the highest achievement in Girl Scouting – the Girl Scout Gold Award. This award recognizes high school girls who demonstrate extraordinary leadership, empathy, and vision through sustainable and measurable projects that make an impact on their communities. While attending a women’s conference, Anne heard stories of the struggles many women face ranging from dating violence to money management and issues in the workforce. Anne realized that girls her age are not prepared for these issues and there is a lack of resources geared towards her age group for preparing to become young professionals. Anne created The Career Cafe an annual event to empower young women in high school and college to prepare for their future careers. The free workshop included dynamic motivational guest speakers on the topics of how to go on a job interview, building their resumes, how to network and personal branding. Attendees were able to put their new skills to the test during mock interviews with some of the area’s top executives. As a result of her Gold Award project, Anne was named a 2018 Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero of Tomorrow. Through the generous support of the Lightning Foundation, Girl Scouts of West Central Florida is able to continue Anne’s legacy of The Career Cafe and impact the lives of more young women. Anne shared, “Through all of this, I know that whatever I do in life, it will be through a servant leadership mindset; sincerely building up others around me through my own resources and doing everything within my power to assist them to become the best possible versions of themselves.” Anne graduated from East Lake High School and currently attends the University of South Florida. Learn more about The Career Cafe:

Broward Elementary School

Jessie Black is a remarkable fifth grade student at N. B. Broward Elementary School in Tampa, FL. During the two years he has been enrolled within our learning community, he has exemplified the true heart of a servant leader. As an officer in our chapter of the National Junior Beta Club, Jessie personifies our motto, “Let Us Lead by Serving Others,’ through his development of a site-based mentorship program to support his younger scholars in the areas of academics and behavior. This year, he has been instrumental in not only working with teachers to determine the needs of their students, but through recruiting additional members to serve in the capacity of mentor as well. In his own words, Jessie states that, “Mentoring is his most impactful contribution to our school community because he loves to help kids and it makes him feel good by helping somebody!” I can attest to the rapport he has established with our Second and Third Grade students. When given the opportunity to visit classrooms to speak with students, Jessie chooses to encourage and empower students through sharing his own testimony of hard-work and overcoming barriers. In essence, he is able to display how one can attain success through the power of persistence and determination. As his School Counselor, I am proud that he utilizes his caring and concerned nature to positively engage his peers and to enthusiastically create a caring environment in our school site. I wholeheartedly recommend Jessie Black for the “Rising Star” Award.

Sallybrating With A Cause And A Little Bit Of Paws

Sally discovered at a young age that her purpose in life is to give back to others. She was named after her great-grandma who passed away from cancer before she was born and Sally has always looked for ways to honor her memory. Sally began volunteering and serving at the Hope Lodge in Tampa. She also became involved in helping with other community events like Relay for Life, St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital Christmas In July and Children’s Cancer Center. She became the founder of her own non-profit 501c3 “Sallybrating With A Cause” with a mission to support and raise funds for cancer patients and cancer research, inspire other youth to become involved in community service, and to support other charities and causes within the community whether humans or animals. She has recruited her family, friends, school and community for support in her efforts. She holds fundraisers such as golf tournaments, poker runs, bake sales, and more. She uses these funds to support her community projects. Sally also serves as a mentor at youth camps and groups for other teens. Over the last four years, Sally has raised over $30,000 in monetary and other types of donations for numerous charities and causes within the Tampa Bay area. Now at the age of 16, Sally hopes to expand her non-profit into a mentoring program for teens and build scholarships for teens who excel in community service while continuing to fulfill her original mission. Her advice to young people is that they can make a difference. She believes that kindness can work wonders and feels that the greatest form of payment is when she makes others smile.

Urlinked Charities

This young lady loss her mother and father at a very young age of 4 and she faced difficulties. She became a part of urlinked charities about 3 years ago and excelled.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast

George has overcome much in his short sixteen years, allowing him to become the remarkable young man he is today. His family life has been challenging, and resulted in his grandparents gaining custody when he was young. Plagued by anger issues and a lack of positive role models early on, George learned to channel these negative experiences and turn them into something good. He attended Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast when he was in elementary school and began volunteering at the Club when he was in 7th grade. He found he enjoyed it so much that he wanted to do more, and so he took on a leadership role in implementing programs for the younger members. He even recruited his friends to join him in this role. Today, George is active in school sports including basketball, track and football. He was the Wood Valley Boys & Girls Club Junior Youth of the Year candidate in 2017 and Youth of Year candidate in 2018 where he took second place in the competition. He participated in Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast Junior Staff program in the summer of 2018, an initiative which immerses teens in career development opportunities and work experience. Expanding on his Club activities he became Ambassador for the UPS Road Codes program which teaches youth safe driving skills. He attended a youth summit hosted by Juvenile Welfare Board of Pinellas County and is now the Chairperson for their Youth Leadership Committee. In partnership with USF, he participated in a Teen Photo Voice exhibit where he researched and spoke about food insecurity among teens in Pinellas County. George also achieved inclusion on the Principal’s List at his school which recognizes students with straight A’s. He is a shining example to his peers who also face adversity.

Broward Elementary School

Miguel Muriel is an outstanding fifth grade student at N. B. Broward Elementary School in Tampa, FL. During the time he has been enrolled within our learning community, which categorizes his entire elementary career, he has personified the true definition of a scholar. As an officer in our chapter of the National Junior Beta Club, Miguel personifies our motto, “Let Us Lead by Serving Others,” through his development of our “Earth Day” celebration and his involvement with helping our students promote kindness and respect. This year, he has taken the lead in not only planning for our upcoming celebration, but in refining his skills in technology and communication to reach out to the community abroad. In his own words, Miguel states that, “The results of my contribution to our learning community include the growth of students in their academic levels which leads to a feeling of pride in seeing my school grow every day!” I can attest that Miguel is the student educators dream for when planning lessons for their classroom. Miguel maintains an intense focus on his studies, but he also makes the effort to support peers in need and to help make connections to learning that will engage students outside of the classroom. As an example, the “Earth Day” project will allow him to work with all of our grade levels as he spreads awareness and boosts student participation in learning. As his School Counselor, I am proud that he utilizes his intellect and compassion to support those he encounters and to enthusiastically create a caring environment in our school site. I wholeheartedly recommend Miguel Muriel for the “Rising Star” Award

Youth for Human Rights

Kevin Perez is a 15 year-old student that goes to school in Pinellas County. For the past 2 years he has volunteered above and beyond any other person that I know for non-profits. On a weekly basis, literally, he brings his friends together to hold awareness campaigns, going door to door or to street festivals, handing out education for kids to learn the harmful effects of drugs and to learn their human rights so they can’t be bullied. Every single time he has been asked to go out and participate at an event that the non-profit is holding, he doesn’t hesitate to help. If he hasn’t been called in to help, by the second week he walks into the office and originates help. He has delivered seminars on anti-bullying and human rights to nearly 200 kids, and has personally distributed thousands of educational pamphlets in the community. He has served in neighborhood clean-ups, fundraising events, performances and dances, speaking engagements and so much more, and he is always so motivated and willing and excited. He is extremely professional in all of his work; you can tell he loves to help other people. Just last month he helped deliver a human rights anti-bullying training to 200 Peer Counselors from schools. Additionally, he cares for what he does and he wants others to get involved too. He doens’t do it for the fame, he simply likes to see people being helped and finds it the greatest of joy when others are happy too. He brings people together and constantly recruits other volunteers to participate and help as well. He exemplifies the statement that a person is only as valuable as he can help others, and he finds great joy and pleasure in doing so.

Crescent of Hernando, Inc dba Crescent Community Clinic

Shreya, age 17, is a senior in the International Baccalaureate program at Carrollwood Day School, Tampa and excels in so many areas that selecting attributes that distinguish her from her peers is difficult. She is caring, reliable, trustworthy, adventuresome. She commutes from Tampa to Spring Hill volunteer at Crescent Community Clinic on Saturdays, summer and during school breaks. Climbing up 16,000 ft. in the Himalayan Mts. in India shows her determination and fortitude. Her grade point of 4.75 showcases her dedication to learning. She shadowed a neurosurgeon during eight hour shifts a day in several hospitals in India while on a family vacation. She shared her experiences with students at Carrollwood Day School in Tampa. Shreya exhibits compassion and has worked with people from several ethnic, racial, religious, social and economic backgrounds. She is highly respected by her peers. The professional staff and volunteers at Crescent Community Clinic are amazed by her maturity and dedication. She received the Green Cross Medical Award, Spanish Excellent Award twice, Theatre Award twice, Columbia Book Award, Volunteer of the Year at Carrollwood Day School and ranks #2 in her senior class. Shreya has volunteered with several Tampa communities, such as, Metropolitan Ministries, Beach Clean-up, tutors Spanish speaking students and has traveled to the Dominican Republic where she taught basic English to children from Kindergarten to grade eight. She holds a part-time tutoring position with Kumon reading and math learning center. She has a passion for helping people and amplifies civic responsibility. She has a sense of maturity rarely seen among her peers. She is outgoing, friendly, charismatic, hard working and an excellent team member. As the administrator of Crescent Community Clinic I have know Shreya for at least four years and cherish the opportunity to see her interact with patients, volunteers and physicians.

Operation: Military Matters

I am nominating Graci Tubbs, my 12-year-old daughter because she started a nonprofit called Operation: Military Matters three years ago in fourth grade. She has a passion for our military and sends care packages to them overseas. She has sent more than 1000 care packages and has raised $40,000. She is the founder and spokesperson for the organization. She has impacted the lives of volunteers who help her with this project and our military around the world. The military have told her the care packages have boosted moral and made their deployment worth it. She spoke to 300 soldiers who deployed to Iraq and Kuwait this past year and has been sending them care packages. She hosts packing parties where volunteers help pack the care packages. And she raises money to send each care package. Each package costs $16.15 to send not including the items inside. You can see what she does on her Facebook page Thank you for your consideration of Graci for this award.

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