Two MSM students were recently recognized for their community spirit and exemplary volunteer service. Rachel Ridgeway ’19 was honored with the President’s Volunteer Service Gold Award, and Grace Barnett ’21 received the Sotomora Service Award.
Granted by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, the President’s Volunteer Service Award recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of time to serve their communities and their country. An active member of the Mount St. Mary and Christ the King Catholic Church communities, Rachel has spent more than 500 hours volunteering through school, church and other activities. Her lengthy list of involvement includes the Building Bright Futures tutoring program, the Diocese of Little Rock’s Youth Advisory Council and her church’s Youth Advisory Team, Mount St. Mary Academy’s Mountie Messengers student ambassador program and Beta Club, and more.
“I have always been told to use my gifts for good, so I became involved everywhere I could think of,” Rachel said of her participation in so many different groups and activities. “I have realized through all this work that there is nothing more rewarding than doing things for others. I have gained a new appreciation for all people, stereotypes have been lost, and walls in my heart have been broken down. I have become a more understanding, merciful, loving and open-minded person, and I strive to improve every day.”
Grace was honored with the Sotomora Service Award at this year’s American Heart Association of Central Arkansas Heart Ball on Saturday, March 2. Created by Eileen and Dr. Ricardo Sotomora in 2001, the award is presented annually to the Sweetheart who performed the greatest number of community service/educational hours during her time as a Sweetheart. Grace completed 317 hours of volunteer work, the most of this year’s group of 66 Heart Ball Sweethearts. She is the fourth Mount St. Mary Academy student to receive the Sotomora Service Award since it was created 18 years ago. Previous recipients from the school include Megan Alley ’18, Olivia Root ’07 and Ashley Jones McMillan ’05.
“I think volunteering in the community is important because it helps acquire life skills as well as provide service to those who need it most,” Grace said. “Along with the fun experiences that I have volunteering, I have also made friendships that will last a lifetime.”
We recognize Rachel and Grace for their commitment to service and living Mercy, and congratulate them on their respective well-deserved honors!
Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.