December 12, 2023

Leesburg Teen Wins Volunteer of the Year Award

1.6 min read| Published On: December 12th, 2023|

By Cindy Peterson

Leesburg Teen Wins Volunteer of the Year Award

1.6 min read| Published On: December 12th, 2023|

Reese Ponds, a junior at First Academy in Leesburg, has been awarded Volunteer of the Year Award by the Lake County School Board. The award was presented on Monday night during a ceremony that left Reese overwhelmed with gratitude.

“I don’t even know where to begin,” Reese says, “I am still so speechless from last night, and the amount of love and support that has surrounded me has just made me even more speechless.”

Reese’s surprise at receiving the award was evident as she recalled the moment. “I had absolutely no idea that I was chosen or even going to the school board meeting, but as soon as I saw my family and friends walk in, I was so confused. I heard my name called, and I started crying because I just felt so overwhelmingly blessed to have these opportunities.”

Reese has dedicated the past three years to serving her community, logging more than 1,400 community service hours.

One of Reese’s remarkable achievements was organizing the collection of more than 2,000 pounds of food to support those in need. She also works with girls and women at local shelters.

“She has a special ability to build relationship with underprivileged females and give them encouragement,” Carmen Cullen says.

Reflecting on her journey, Reese expressed her gratitude and credited her mentors. “I always say I couldn’t do this without Mrs. Linda Watts, and that will forever be true. Both her and Mrs. Serita Morgan made all of this possible for me, and I couldn’t thank them enough.”

Reese’s passion for volunteering has become a defining aspect of her identity. “Over the past three years of volunteering, I have realized that this is my passion, and this is what makes me, me,” she shared.

The Volunteer of the Year Award is an honor in Lake County, celebrating the dedication and selflessness of individuals who give back to their community. Reese Ponds was recognized among a group of winners in their respective category, and was named the overall winner of the 2024 Volunteer of the Year Award.

As she concluded her remarks, Reese extended her gratitude to the Lake County community. “I still am so speechless, but I can say thank you so much, Lake County, for all of the support and love you have given me throughout this journey.”


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About the Author: Cindy Peterson

Originally from the small town of Berryville, Arkansas, Cindy has become a multimedia specialist in journalism, photography, videography and video editing.

She has a B.S. in Communications from the University of Central Arkansas and is a correspondent for The Daily Commercial, LakeFront TV and Beacon College’s PBS talk show, “A World of Difference,” where she received an Anthem Award and Telly Award.

When she isn’t working, Cindy spends time with her husband, Ryan, and son, David, traveling and taking photos of landscapes and wildlife.

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