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Servant Leadership Award - Past Winners

Promoting love of neighbor among homeschooled students through community

2016 Award Winners


Unity Bowling, age 17
Richmond, VA

Beginning at age nine, Unity has been working to eradicate illiteracy, starting in her home city of Richmond.  As a program coordinator with the organization Read to Them, she leads teams that go into elementary schools to host One School, One Book, a program designed to have all the students in the school and their families reading the same book, to bolster a sense of a reading community.  She expanded the program into four Richmond elementary schools and fundraised the full cost of one year for one of the schools to enable them to begin the program.  She organizes book drives at local schools to provide gently used books for Reach Out and Read VA, helping them supply children with books at home. She has also been involved in literacy development efforts in the Dominican Republic. Unity intends to devote her life to fighting illiteracy on domestic shores and beyond.

In her own words:

“I chose to work with literacy organizations because of a very special student I mentored. She had been held back in kindergarten and was belligerent and seemingly uninterested in learning. Once she learned how to read, she became a completely different child. Her attitude towards learning changed…Seeing that change made something click, and I knew that I was destined to set the ball in motion for as many children as possible, starting in my own neighborhood.”  ~Excerpt from Unity's application

Jacob Caplinger, age 15 

Mount Juliet, TN

Jacob founded a family outreach program called REACH designed to involve local families in service projects in their community.  With approx. 50 active members, Jacob and REACH performed eight substantial service projects last year, assisting nursing homes, rescue missions, the homeless, a local Family Life Center, and individual families.  Under Jacob’s leadership as REACH president, he led or participated in projects that included providing food and shelter to homeless; launching an encouraging card campaign to people struggling with depression and mental health in TN and surrounding states; collecting funds, clothes, bedding, toys and other supplies for needy families; educating about teen pregnancy; and cleaning up areas of Nashville.  

In his own words:

Jacob shared his motivation by saying, “If I’m the only Jesus that people ever see, I want them to know they are loved.”  ~Excerpt from Jacob's application

Katie Prior, age 16 
Oklahoma City, OK

After learning that many veterans’ funerals use an audio recording of Taps because there are not enough military buglers for every funeral, Katie was driven to found the Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps, a non-profit organization that connects student trumpeters with military funerals scheduled in their area to allow for a live playing of Taps during the funeral.  Katie has recruited over 100 volunteers in 33 states to be a part of this movement to honor those who have served and their families.

In her own words:

“Many of the events the volunteers play at would otherwise have no live music and are greatly enhanced by both the musical talents and presence of the high school volunteers. The presence of young people gives hope to our aging veterans as they witness younger generations being patriotic.

“Anyone who has lost a loved one who was a veteran can tell you what an impact the song Taps has, and that for the rest of your life when you hear it, you are reminded of your loved one. My project is impacting more than just veterans’ families: a totally unexpected impact has been on the volunteers themselves. I have seen a rise in the level of patriotism in myself and in my fellow volunteers. It’s really become a project of patriotism through volunteerism.”  ~Excerpt from Katie's application

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