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Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism, Department of Service and Civic Innovation Secretary Paul Monteiro Celebrate Annual Youth Service Awards During National Volunteer Week

Award presentation recognizes and celebrates Maryland youth who lead their communities through service and volunteerism

ANNAPOLIS, MD – The Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism and Department of Service and Civic Engagement Secretary Paul Monteiro this week celebrated the State of Maryland’s Youth Service Awards, in partnership with the Maryland Civic Education Coalition and the University of Maryland College of Education. The annual awards presentation celebrates Maryland youth who lead their communities through service and volunteerism.

“Service is crucial to our success as a state and a nation—to help bridge the gap between education and employment, to help tackle the challenges facing our communities, and to help address the epidemic of loneliness and isolation that plagues our communities,” said Gov. Wes Moore. “Service will save us—and I thank our Youth Service Award winners for being part of the heart of that effort.”

Youth Service Award honorees are nominated by teachers, peers, volunteer supervisors, and community members. Recipients are selected via a competitive review process and are representative of multiple service areas.

Youth Service Award recipients were recognized during the virtual Maryland Civic Education & Engagement Leadership Summit and have collectively made exceptional contributions to Maryland as change agents for women in STEM, for cancer patients, for seniors in technology, for civic engagement, for access to food and essential resources, and for composting in schools.

“We are building a culture of service that hinges on responsibility, accountability and concern for others,” said Sec. Monteiro. “The young leaders honored today are the beacons of tomorrow and truly represent the best of our community.”

The 2023 Youth Service Award recipients are: 

  • Dhruv Girish: Through Gardens 4 Patients, Dhruv has donated 75 pounds of fresh, locally grown organic produce to families in need, serving approximately 1,000 people.
  • Emma Beyer: Honored 26 individuals at the Flag of Honor Memorial, with over 100 attendees; she has served over 20 hours packing boxes and making care packages for hungry families in the community.
  • Flematu Fofana: Created the Lobby Day event for Maryland Muslims, which had over 80 legislators and 50 community members attend.
  • Grace Minakowski: Served as the Legislative Committee Head of the Maryland Youth Advisory Council and helped publicly advocate for HB119.
  • Lexie Gamble: Through Gigi’s Playhouse, Lexie led the teaching of the art program, providing creative and inclusive opportunities for teens and adults who share a passion for art.
  • Lumina Zhang: Volunteered at the Tacy Foundation for six years and has trained more than 30 Piano Pal mentors in teaching music to children
  • Meklit Mesfin: Created peer & community surveys to identify a variety of community needs, which has led to the donation of 26 books, in honor of the 26 acts of kindness to Nantucket Elementary School and Meade High’s 9/11 Flag of Honor service, which honored 26 victims.
  • Professional Dress Drive: Improved the self-image of many teens, specifically from the impoverished communities who attend Glen Burnie HS by providing access to professional attire and interview workshops when seeking opportunities for workforce readiness.
  • Rise N Shine Foundation: Helped reduce food waste in 39 schools by promoting composting initiatives, which have led to approximately 8,960 food items collected and redistributed to students or local food banks and homeless shelters.
  • Viveka Sinha: Organized and created a lesson that focused on the Model Minority Myth focused on recognizing the voices of Asian American students at Montgomery Blair High School along with a supplementary pamphlet that has been placed within the school counseling office as a resource around the topic of Model Minority Myth.

For more information about the Youth Service Awards and the Governor’s Office of Service and Volunteerism, visit


About the Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism 

The Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism is dedicated to supporting the mission of Maryland Governor Wes Moore to serve our neighbors in need. This coordinating office funds AmeriCorps programs supporting disaster relief, economic opportunity, education, veterans and military families, public safety, health, and the environment in Maryland. A unit of the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, it has honored nearly 100,000 Maryland volunteers. Learn more by visiting our website at and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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