buildOn’s Barry Ford Wins Presidential Service Award

We’re proud of buildOn member Barry Ford for being presented with the Presidential Service Award at the 2012 National Conference of Volunteering and Service in Chicago. Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service presented a plaque to Barry in front of 5,000 people at the conference yesterday. Barry completed 263 hours of service this year and is committed to ending hunger locally and globally.

Barry, a Chicago South Side resident and junior at Lindblom Math and Science Academy, also won buildOn’s National Service Award. The award is given to a student who has the most service hours in their region for a year. “It didn’t seem like I did that much, but the hours just stacked up. Every Saturday I just went to buildOn,” he said. Every Friday Barry would remind his mother, Marjorie Ford, that he needed to wake up early because he had service projects to go to with buildOn the next day.

Marjorie was beaming with pride when she learned that her son won the President’s Volunteer Award. “This was so big. We had no idea all of his service would pay off,” she said.

Barry’s favorite service project is Living Room Café, where buildOn Chicago members partner with Inspiration Corporation to cook breakfast for the homeless and serve it to them restaurant-style on Saturdays. Barry also traveled with buildOn to build a school in Nepal, and that’s ignited his interest to study abroad and join the Peace Corps.

“He’s just fantastic,” said buildOn’s Abbe Ewell, Barry’s Program Coordinator for the past three years. She’s given him the responsibility of being Program Service Leader for several projects because he demonstrated maturity beyond his years. Abbe credits him for taking ownership of the group by recruiting new members every year and educating them about buildOn.

Barry says he’s fallen in love with doing service. “I enjoy hanging out with my friends and it’s a lot of fun, and it makes me feel good,” he said. After attending the Youth Forum at NCVS, he was inspired by the young guest speakers’ accomplishments to do more. “I feel that with my experience and the service that I’d done with buildOn, I could start leading a lot more projects on my own now.”