Students & Scholarships

Honoring High School Students with a Commitment to Community Service

Applications are now being accepted for its 2024 JWV Community Service Scholarships. The scholarships are awarded to high school seniors who have made a significant contribution to the Stamford community and are given in honor of Stamford veterans who have selflessly served our country and community.

The JWV Community Service Scholarships were established in 2005 when Fred Robbins Post 142 expanded the Citizen of the Year (COTY) program – one of Stamford’s most coveted community service/volunteer recognition efforts – to include young adults.

“These scholarships go beyond academic performance, to acknowledge excellence and leadership in community service across Stamford’s broad and diverse needs. Like the Citizen of the Year, these students must demonstrate the high standards of responsibility in civic life, help in the promotion of projects for the public welfare and personally have worked with distinction to improve Stamford on a community-wide basis.”  – Gary Stone, co-chair of the Stamford Citizen of the Year Committee and co-chair of the Scholarship Selection Committee

Are you a senior with commitment to community service? Apply for a $7,500 community service scholarship.

History of the JWV Community Scholarship Program

In 2004, Rick Redniss, who had attended a number of Citizen of the Year Commemorations, gave the keynote address for Marc Lyons, the 2003 recipient. After reading several articles in the Stamford Advocate about high school students devoting significant time and energy to meaningful community service, Rick saw a different perspective. Rick believed that it seemed only fitting to try to expand the overall program to acknowledge those high school students who made significant contributions to the community, and who very well could, someday be selected as a Citizen of the Year themselves, either in Stamford or another community.

To that end, under the guidance of Rick Redniss and Gary Stone, The Fred Robbins Post agreed to establish the JWV Community Scholarship Program to help foster and promote community service and to recognize, in a tangible fashion, through meaningful scholarships, these exceptional and motivated young men and women.

2023 Scholarship Recipients

Nora Ansellem

Academy of Information
Technology & Engineering

Nora’s teachers, counselors, and community leaders regard her as a “phenomenal, talented, versatile leader” with great energy, a deep affinity for learning, and a role model for her peers. She is articulate, poised, thoughtful, and compassionate with a strong devotion to both her school and local communities.

She is an active member of Friendship Circle, where she spends time with a special needs child weekly. She is a senior leader in the Leadership Council with LiveGirl, where she trains camp counselors. Nora also led their designLab programming and launched a community recycling project.

She is active with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and SoundWaters. She also participates in fundraising for Operation Smile Club, Medical Mentorship, and MYLC which is an organization focused on raising awareness about mental health.

Sebastian Bernhard

Westhill High School

Sebastian’s teachers describe him as “kind, genuine, intelligent, and passionate.” He embodies leadership and service, which helped him to become a Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, a role reserved for only the most outstanding scouts. Sebastian is both a member of the youth leadership core as well as the adult leaders and he thoughtfully contributes to decisions in both realms.

In addition to earning more than 21 badges, completing his Eagle Scout project of installing a turtle pond at WHS, and being a Senior Patrol Leader and JASM for BSA Troop 15, Sebastian is Vice-President of FFA (Future Farmers of America) and formerly was Chapter Treasurer. He also interned at SoundWaters educating the local community about Long Island Sound marine conservation. He continues his work by volunteering every week after school at the Westhill Agriscience Marine Lab, where he manages the saltwater lab and facilitates student lab activities. Sebastian is also a member of the National Honor Society as well as the Spanish Honor Society.

Elvis Coy

Stamford High School

Elvis is known as a persevering leader who is deeply committed to school, his faith, and helping the community. He is recognized as being humble with excellent public speaking skills, and when approaching even the most minimal task he proceeds with excellence and dedication. Many who know Elvis express that “it is in his nature to uplift others with his words and actions.”

Elvis is a Youth Leader in his church Bible Study. He consistently plays an important part in Christian Fellowship for Fraternidad Cristiana Church and is a role model for the youth members. He continues his volunteer work outside the church by mentoring local high school students at Future 5, participating in community projects for SoundWaters, and engaging in a service leadership role for the National Honors Society. Sebastian is the Co-Founder and President of SHS Personal Student Progress and Growth and President of the SHS chapter of Distributive Education Clubs of America.

Joaquin Diaz-Huerta

Stamford High School

Joaquin is a dedicated and conscientious student with a passion for giving back to his community. He is regarded as a student who executes his tasks with diligence while exhibiting “strong decision-making skills and resilience in the face of challenges.” Joaquin has “a remarkable dedication to helping others” which is demonstrated through his numerous community activities.

Joaquin is a Future 5 Ambassador and has dedicated more than 144 hours to them demonstrating a strong commitment to their mission. He is a member of the SHS Science National Honor Society as well as Treasurer of both the SHS Interact Club and National Honors Society. Joaquin continues his volunteer work with organizations such as SoundWaters, the Person2Person food pantry, and the City of Stamford‘s Hey Stamford Food Festival. He is a student member of Pollinator Pathway Stamford and was a leader of the Kosciuszko Park maintenance project. Joaquin also spends time tutoring English for Building One Community.

Jose Portillo Palma

Westhill High School

Jose is a steadfast student and dedicated to helping others. His teachers recognized Jose as a dedicated leader and role model for his peers. Jose’s pastor shares that he always shows “commitment and perseverance in the different tasks that have been assigned to him” and consistently does this with a “positive attitude, which influences those around him.”

Jose has devoted hundreds of hours to the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, participating in many activities including the Keystone Club, dedicating 200 hours to tutoring and mentoring younger students in STEM education. He also has participated in their five 5K fundraising events, volunteered at
multiple Family Fun Nights, and has been the Speaker at the Champions of Youth dinner. Jose is actively involved in the Winter Coat Drive and several HBCU Night activities. In addition to these volunteer activities, Jose consistently serves as a musician in Ministerios Fraternidad Cristiana Inc. (Christian Fellowship Ministries Inc.).

Amelia Stone

Stamford High School

Amelia’s principal describes her as “a young woman of self-confidence, integrity, and kindness, with a calm quiet demeanor, who carries herself with the utmost respect for herself, her family, and her community.” She is regarded as an extraordinary leader with great character, generosity, and involvement.

Amelia spends her time volunteering for Kids Helping Kids, working with Stamford High’s special needs classroom to practice socialization skills. She is also involved with Stamford Leadership Academy, as President of the Youth Advisory Council; a Darien YMCA counselor-in-training; and taking a significant leadership role in SHS community service projects such as the Thanksgiving Dinner Drive. Amelia was also an active volunteer for Caroline Simmons’ State Representative and Mayoral campaigns.

©2023 City of Stamford Citizen of the Year | 22 First Street, Stamford, CT 06905