Elizabeth's Service Above Self Award

On April 28th, 2023, Cedar Rapids Daybreak Rotary in Iowa held its annual Service Above Self Award ceremony. School officials select one student from each of the area’s eight high schools based on their service leadership and achievement beyond the arena of academics, sports, or other commonly recognized areas of performance. Elizabeth received this award for all she does to help others. From volunteering at a hospital and various youth camps to years of fundraising for nonprofits, Elizabeth’s efforts toward making the world a better place are nothing short of inspiring.

An Early Start

From the very beginning, Elizabeth’s parents taught her the importance of helping others. For many years they’ve participated in youth groups and represented Outreach in their church congregation. The example they set for her laid the foundation for her strong sense of compassion and energy toward philanthropy.

When she was just four months old, Elizabeth’s parents took her on a fundraiser walk-a-thon, raising money for Outreach.

Elizabeth at her first fund raiser.

Elizabeth in a homemade Outreach Outfit

Growing up in this environment set her on a path of awareness of those in need. Even at the age of five, Elizabeth showed that she was aware of others. She knew that not every child had the same opportunity for school and learning that she did. So, she helped her mother bake ginger cookies and sold them with cider to fundraise for the Outreach Haiti school program. She even created her own signs for her fundraising stand.

Elizabeth on her way to earning the Service Above Self Award

Her Selflessness Grew

As she grew older, Elizabeth’s concern for others only intensified. Throughout her high school years, she lived a life of service. She volunteered at a hospital, lending a compassionate hand to patients and their families during difficult times. She also volunteered at a youth camp, where she found meaning in helping younger children learn and grow. Elizabeth ended up volunteering over 300 hours in just one year. This unwavering commitment to others showed her to be worthy of receiving the Service Above Self Award.

The exceptional commitment she has demonstrated her entire life matches her academic achievements. Elizabeth graduated with high honors, earning a GPA above 4.0, making her a valedictorian and member of the Honors Society, along with various other school achievements.

School staff clearly noticed her exceptional efforts and recommended her for the Service Above Self Award. And with such an impressive list of accomplishments, the scholarship committee agreed.

Elizabeth said, “It’s an honor to have been chosen to receive this award.”

This prize came with a gift of $100 that she could donate to the nonprofit of her choice. Elizabeth chose Outreach International.

A Nonprofit Tradition

Elizabeth’s involvement with Outreach is deeply influenced by her grandmother, Debbie Woods, who has worked with the organization for over 30 years.

She said, “Having a grandmother who works at Outreach, I’ve heard about all the wonderful work that they do to not just help but work with communities so that they can get what they really need. A lot of organizations seem to donate things like money or ‘schools’ but it’s rare that they collaborate with the community to discover what they feel they can best use. That’s always made Outreach stand out to me.”

Elizabeth’s parents expressed their feelings about their daughter. “Of all her accolades, the Service Above Self Award is the one we’re most proud. It acknowledges that she strives every day to make the world a better place. We’re proud of the young woman she’s become.”

Her journey took her from a little girl baking and selling ginger cookies for school kids in Haiti to a high school valedictorian who has received the Service Above Self award. Elizabeth has undoubtedly made an indelible impact on the lives of so many others in her community and around the world. Her story serves as a reminder that anyone can make a difference, no matter how young. With a combination of compassion and determination, anyone can become an agent of positive change.

And as she steps into the next chapter in her life, we have no doubt that Elizabeth will continue to touch lives, help others, and make the world a better place.

How to Help

Learn how you can be like Elizabeth and help Outreach work with communities all around the world to solve their poverty-related issues.