Two Owen High school students, Ella Howie and Priscilla Alpizar, were recognized for their service to the community at the school’s awards ceremony in May. Ella and Priscilla were recipients of the Owen High Community Service Award, sponsored by Friends and Neighbors of Swannanoa (FANS). The award seeks to recognize graduating seniors for exemplary service to the Swannanoa Valley, while also encouraging younger students to give back through service. Award recipients receive a $500 scholarship applied directly toward their secondary education.
This year’s awards were made possible through the generosity of local residents who donated towards a Community Service Award fund established by FANS. Within a couple of weeks of announcing the fundraising effort, hundreds of dollars had been raised from donors. FANS had originally intended to give the award to only one graduating senior, but the overwhelming outpouring of support meant there were sufficient funds to recognize two seniors.
Ella Howie received the Community Service Award for her work as a volunteer (and now an intern) at Bounty & Soul, a local nonprofit serving the Swannanoa Valley. Throughout the pandemic, Ella volunteered as a “Box Runner,” delivering boxes of free food to the hundreds of people who came to Bounty & Soul’s weekly drive-thru market in the old Bi-Lo parking lot in Black Mountain. Bounty & Soul’s Director of Community Engagement, Karla Gardner, describes Ella as “a truly invaluable member of our team” who is “an absolute joy to work with.”
The second Community Service Award recipient, Priscilla Alpizar, was recognized for her service at the Swannanoa Library. Ever since her freshman year in high school, Priscilla has been a regular volunteer at the library, serving in a variety of roles. In addition, she helped out at outdoor movie nights in Grovemont Park by providing face painting and arts and crafts activities for the kids. Owen High Media Specailist, Samantha Gallman, describes Priscilla as someone who’s “always pitching in to help” and whose positive attitude and enthusiasm “spilled into the souls of others.”
Congratulations Ella and Priscilla! And best of luck as you enter this next, exciting phase of your lives!