Montgomery Serves Awards 2020

Congratulations to the 2020 Montgomery Serves Awards honorees. These individuals, businesses, and groups have demonstrated remarkable commitment to direct volunteer service in our community, earning them Montgomery County's highest recognition for volunteerism.

Youth Volunteer of the Year 

Recognizing outstanding volunteer service in 2019 by an individual age 18 or under 
 

 Nick Casertano photoNick Casertano

Nick Casertano got an early start as a volunteer. At age 5, he joined the PALS program, serving as a language and play model for another child. This was the beginning of an ongoing commitment to community service. Currently a high school junior at St. Anselm’s Abbey School, Nick’s activities in 2019 included volunteering at the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless, Maryvale Elementary School, Carroll Manor Nursing Home, and the KID Museum. 

Since March 2019, Nick has been leading an outreach program that shares his love of LEGOs. He developed and conducts regular programs for the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless (MCCH), giving children who otherwise would not have access to a creative outlet the opportunity to use their imaginations. 

When Nick volunteers at MCCH’s Seneca Heights property, he provides all materials including LEGO pieces. Each session is usually focused on a single theme, which the participants collectively selected during a previous meeting. He plans the activity, prepares the materials, and supervises. The children not only learn to execute a project, they learn how to present their work to a group. Through Nick’s efforts, many of the children have expressed an increased interest in STEM for their futures. 

Thanks to Nick, the children at Seneca Heights have gained an outlet for their creativity as well as a relationship with a mentor who offers an activity that is a lot of fun. His program provides children living at the residence with achievements that are soothing, imaginative, and confidence-building. In addition, Nick is a role model for his students and reinforces the notion that someone older believes in their abilities. 

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has closed the LEGO program at Seneca Heights, Nick has developed a website with activity platforms, curriculum, and instructions for the children to access and view online. He hopes to share this with other nonprofits as a way to help children from vulnerable populations during this crisis. 

Nick also volunteers at Maryvale Elementary School, where he has helped a Head Start teacher since 6th grade. Nick assists with classroom activities and also has presented his LEGO program to these children.  

Every Tuesday, Nick devotes two to three hours at Carroll Manor Nursing Home, checking in with residents and assisting in activities. Nick has plans to run a LEGO program with the residents there as well. 

During the summer of 2019, Nick volunteered at the KID Museum in Bethesda, helping to run activities such as woodworking, designing magnetic trains, making electronic circuits, and coding camp.  

Nick has made volunteering an integral part of his life, and has earned the respect and gratitude of those for whom and with whom he serves. His dedication to volunteering sets a strong example to young people and helps create positive change in our community. 
 
—Nominated by Lynn Rose ‚Äč

 

See all of this year's honorees

 

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