Claire Reyes ’20 is the recipient of this year’s Service Award, given annually to the senior with the most service hours. She contributed more than 400 hours to her parish, St. Anthony of Padua. Overall, the senior class contributed 6,600 hours before the stay-at-home order.
Claire, who is still volunteering at St. Anthony this summer, said she chose to focus on serving her parish and its youth ministry program because she believes “they have one of the best youth ministries in the Deanery,” she said. “Our youth minister, Stacy (Uhl) Gillenwater ’85, is very devoted and organized, and she provides plenty of opportunities for us to serve.”
In addition to her parents, Gillenwater has been her role model for serving others.
“My parents work really hard to provide their service to others and do what needs to be done,” she said. “They work without complaint and encourage me to do the same. I’ve known Mrs.Gillenwater since I was really young, and she’s been a really important person in my faith journey. She demonstrates Christ’s love and patience, and her dedication to living out His will is incredible. Whenever I see her pouring out all her time and energy for others, it inspires me to do the same.”
In addition to the Providence award, Claire also received the Outstanding Leadership and Service Award from Catalyst Catholic, which oversees youth ministry throughout the New Albany Deanery.
Claire said she has learned a lot from her service experiences and enjoyed working with all age groups. She has found that in helping others, she benefits too. She learned patience, how to put others first, and how to put her own feelings aside to focus on others and their needs in the moment. She also has learned how to respond in various and challenging situations. Even more, she likes how she feels when helping others.
“One of the things I enjoy most about community service is the calm feeling I get when I serve others,” Claire said. “I am able to push my worries aside and focus solely on those who need help. I enjoy being able to interact with many different people like children and the elderly. I love making the people smile and relieving some of their stress or sadness.”
Claire said she looks forward to continuing to serve others as a student at Purdue University in West Lafayette and being part of the college’s Catholic community.
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