RANDOLPH, NJ- Four students from Randolph High School were honored with the Bronze Presidential Volunteer Service Award for their contributions to the community.
Nick Mantone, 17, Max Maderna 17, Matthew Marovitz, 17, and Luke Potamianos, 14, all received the award because of the time and dedication they have devoted to the Special Needs Athletic Program (SNAP), based in Morristown. As weekly mentors to children with special needs, they teach and play variety of sports with these children including soccer and basketball, and more.
“These boys are exceptional individuals who always brought smiles to the kids they mentored and also made a positive impact on their lives,” said Program Director Kim Strasser. “They are compassionate toward kids with special needs and show true dedication which is what the ‘Presidential Service Award’ encompasses. SNAP looks forward to these star mentors taking a leadership role in September.”
In order to receive the award the young adults (ages 16-25) must volunteer between 100-174 hours of their time over a 12 month period and teens (ages 11-15) must volunteer 50-74 hours. In addition to volunteering weekly, the older boys created and implemented a SNAP Ninja Warrior Clinic, where the children were able to participate in an obstacle course including such activities as the tunnel crawl, following a footprint path, bowling and a dolly pull.
Kids can join SNAP to be a participant (ages 6 and up) or a mentor ( middle school or high school students ) by signing up on the SNAP website. www.snapclinics.org.
Once registered, SNAP sends out emails when a clinic is coming up. Typically, sports clinics are held once a week at Sussex Ave. School in Morristown from 7-8PM. Participants are paired up with a mentor for an hour of soccer, basketball or "Open Gym" ending with a social experience of sharing a snack and conversation together.
“I really enjoy playing sports and also helping people,” said Marovitz. “To be able to do both every week at SNAP really puts a smile on my face; and it feels great to see smiles on the kids’ faces too.”
Strasser sees the program as being just as beneficial to the mentors as it is to the kids who sign up.
“It is my hope that through SNAP, participants not only gain athletic and social skills, but through positive experiences their confidence builds and friendships develop,” said Strasser. “SNAP not only teaches mentors about empathy and the power of compassion, but it also gives mentors the ability to take responsibility and become an asset to the program. We want our mentors to feel empowered and rewarded by giving back and making a difference in their community.”