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Jacksonville teen earns prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award

November 22, 2019

From left to right: United Way Manager of Volunteerism Erica La Spada; United Way President and CEO Michelle Braun; award winner Alex Hassel; Alex’s mom, Charity Hassel.


Jacksonville teen Alexander Hassel recently qualified for the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award for his outstanding commitment to community service.

Hassel, who is 15 years old and a sophomore in high school, has served more than 140 hours of community service in order to complete this exemplary milestone.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is a civil award bestowed by the President of the United States in recognition of outstanding volunteer contributions in community service to the United States. It is currently an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Points of Light Institute.

United Way of Northeast Florida is our region’s Points of Light affiliate and a President’s Volunteer Service Award Certifying Organization. United Way officially bestowed this award to Hassel Nov. 20.

Hassel achieved the Gold Award in his age group (teens ages 11-15) for “100+ hours of unpaid acts of volunteer service benefiting others.” Since May 2018, he has served more than 142 hours. This equates to at least $3,431 of time based on Independent Sector’s estimate of volunteer-hour worth.

“Knowing I have given my best work to help others makes me feel good,” Hassel said. “I know what I’m doing when I volunteer might not solve all the problems out there, but I also know turning and walking away when I see the problem isn’t the right thing to do.”

Volunteer activities that helped Hassel reach his 142 hours include working with a summer music school for refugee children this past summer in Nashville; working in local charity clothes closet; supporting a book drive with collections and donations; making food packages for local children; and distributing foods at local food giveaways.

“We’re so thankful not only for the work Alex has accomplished but also for inspiring other young people like him to give back,” said Erica La Spada, manager of volunteerism at United Way of Northeast Florida.

Hassel said he’s learned a lot about the importance of giving back through his experiences and gained new perspective on those he serves.

“I have really learned to be more compassionate toward other people, especially those who are struggling,” Hassel said. “It’s helped me understand a little more about the problems some of the people in our community face. I have seen many of the people who need help are kind, nice people who are not that different from me.”

While Hassel said he doesn’t quite know what he wants to do when he grows up, he knows serving others through volunteerism will always be important to him.

“It’s not always glamorous or easy to do the work of volunteering,” he said. “But I choose to give back because, if I don’t do what I can, then I feel like just a taker. My goal is to live my life unselfishly.”

To learn how you can give back through volunteerism, visit unitedwaynefl.org/volunteer. More information on United Way of Northeast Florida can be found at unitedwaynefl.org or @unitedwaynefl on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.