St. John’s Parish in Clyde and St. Patrick’s Parish in Savannah recently awarded $500 scholarships to two young men in recognition of their ministry and service within the parishes.
Jesse Alexander and Scott Williams, who both graduated from Clyde-Savannah High School June 24, received the scholarships because they are always willing to volunteer with the parish in any way necessary, said Gloria Garofono, secretary for the parishes.
The parishes award the scholarships each year to graduating high-school seniors who meet at least two basic requirements, Garofono said. The students must attend church regularly and must be continuing their education through college or a trade school. Beyond that, the scholarship board looks at the ways the seniors serve their church. Both Jesse and Scott fulfill their obligation to the church by doing “a lot of odds and ends” for the parishes, Garofono said.
Jesse, who belongs to St. John’s, was baptized in the parish and has attended Mass there with his family ever since. One of the things he says he likes most about St. John’s is the way he is able to give back to the community through the parish. He often helps serve people during parish dinners and helps set up for the parish bazaars. He has also been involved in the youth group and participated in some of its fundraisers, including can-and-bottle drives, he said.
“Whenever we need someone to help out, he always volunteers,” Garofono said.
Jesse, however, doesn’t necessary think his service is anything unique; rather, he lives by the notion that everyone should serve everyone else, he said. A lot of his peers and other people in Clyde are also involved in service to others, he added.
“I think we have a responsibility as individuals to just give back. We’ve all been helped, so we should all help others,” Jesse said. “If people need help, I’m always there to help out. I’ve never really thought about it. It’s just who I am.”
Jesse received the diocesan Hands of Christ recognition for service last fall. He has been an altar server at St. John’s since he was in fourth grade and became an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion several years ago.
“I like to stay active and involved,” he said.
This desire to be involved carries over into other areas of his life as well. He served as treasurer of his class for all four years of high school, was on the school’s Masterminds team and played on the tennis and football teams. Although Clyde-Savannah doesn’t officially name class valedictorians and salutatorians, Jesse had the highest grade-point average in the senior class.
Jesse is a very ambitious teen, Garofono said. For the past several summers he has worked at Hughes Farms, where he has baled hay, fed cattle, laid bedding in stalls and done some landscaping work. In July he was to begin working at School Specialty in Lyons, and plans to work there until he leaves for Cornell University this fall. At Cornell, he plans to major in economics and is also considering a math major.
“I kind of want to get into investing. I like money and dealing with it,” Jesse said.
Scott Williams has also belonged to his parish, St. Patrick’s, since he was very young. His grandfather began taking him to church when he was 2 or 3 years old, and Scott still attends Mass there every week with his grandfather as well as his younger brother and sister. One of the parish’s strengths is its strong sense of community, he said.
“It’s a small church, so everyone knows everyone else,” Scott said.
Like Jesse, Scott also volunteers to serve people whenever his parish holds fundraising dinners and breakfasts. He also serves as an usher at St. Patrick’s every other week and helps out in any way necessary, Garofono said.
“I just like giving back,” Scott explained.
Scott was in the Clyde-Savannah chapter of the National Honor Society and played on the school’s football and baseball teams. He’s also had a job working at the P&C grocery store in Waterloo since the day he turned 16, he said.
Scott will attend Monroe Community College this fall and plans to major in math. After college, he’s thinking about becoming a math teacher.
“He’s a very well-rounded kid,” Garofono said.