Although the Upper School requires 90 hours of service to graduate, back when Levi Homan `24 was a freshman he already knew that fulfilling that requirement would be no problem for him.
“I was talking with someone about my volunteer hours and how I already had 40 hours,” explains Homan. “That person brought up the Congressional Award program and it seemed achievable considering the track I was on and the fact that I enjoy doing community service.”
This past fall, Levi was awarded not one but three Congressional Awards – bronze, silver, and gold. Only 550 people in the United States receive the gold medal each year.
“I was shooting for gold because…why not?”
The Congressional Award recognizes initiative, service, and achievement in America’s youth. According to the Congressional Award website, this award program is the United States Congress’s highest honor for youth civilians. It is open to all youth in the United States between the ages of 14 and 24 regardless of ability, circumstance, or socioeconomic status. The program focuses on voluntary public service (400 hours), personal development (200 hours), physical fitness (200 hours), and expedition & exploration (5-day/4-night trip).
Activities Homan participated in to fulfill these requirements include volunteering at Tikkun Farm and Camp Friedlander, enrolling in a financial literacy course, participating in soccer and tennis, and planning (and taking) a trip to Arizona and Mexico to explore cultural sites and experiences.
“The biggest takeaway for me was the volunteering piece,” says Homan. “Volunteering is something I really enjoy because it makes me feel good and I can help others; it’s so good for the soul. I never thought it would be something I would enjoy doing as much as I do.”
Levi encourages others to strive for the Congressional Award as well.
“If you have the time, go after it. Sports are a big part of school life here so that piece is easy enough to obtain and there are always places looking for volunteers – just ask Mrs. Gunn [director of service learning] to help you make a connection to something you are interested in. The hardest part is planning the trip, but you don’t have to do anything big and you don’t have to go far. For me, it was all worth it.”
Levi was invited to the Congressional Summit in Washington, D.C. this June, where he was nationally recognized for his accomplishments.
In addition to receiving the medals, Levi also received his Eagle Scout Award in 2020. Eagle is the seventh and highest rank of Boy Scouts. Fewer than seven out of every 100 Boy Scouts ever achieve this rank. At 12 years old, he was one of the youngest recipients of the award in the tristate’s history.