Diller awards recognize teens for leadership, innovation


(JTA) — Ten U.S. teens were recognized for their volunteerism with Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards.

Each will receive an honorarium of $36,000 “in recognition of their leadership, innovation and commitment to making the world a better place,” the Helen Diller Family Foundation said in its announcement.

It is the seventh year for the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards but the first time they have been offered nationally, recognizing teens outside California.

The winners are:

* Jake Bernstein, 19, of St. Louis, Mo., for VolunTEENnation, a nonprofit that connects youth with available volunteer opportunities across the country;

* Skylar Dorosin, 18, of Palo Alto, Calif., for Project 2020, a program that aims to boost self-confidence and foster friendships through the teaching of swimming and water polo to girls from low-income communities;

* Ellie Dubin, 17, of Beverly Hills, Calif., for Kesem Shel Shir, a musical theater program that fosters self-esteem, collaboration and language skills for underprivileged American and Israeli children;

* Jordan Elist, 18, also of Beverly Hills, for Save a Bottle, Save a Life, a program that collects bottles and cans and uses the proceeds to support the work of food pantries;

* Ben Hirschfeld, 19, of Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., for  Lit! Solar, a project that supports children’s health and literacy using a revolving fund to replace dangerous kerosene lamps with safe solar lanterns;

* Ido Kedar, 17, of West Hills, Calif., for Ido in AutismLand, an awareness initiative that provides firsthand insight into the hidden realities of those living with nonverbal autism for educators, families and others;

* Talia Leman, 18, of Waukee, Iowa, for  RandomKid, a website that provides tools and resources for youth to launch and lead their own community service projects and endeavors;

* Nick Lowinger, 15, of Cranston, R.I., for Gotta Have Sole, a foundation that donates new footwear to children living in homeless shelters across the country;

* Max Wallack, 17, of Natick, Mass., for PuzzlesToRemember, a nonprofit that designs, collects and distributes puzzles to serve as therapeutic tools for those living with Alzheimer’s disease; and

* Talia Young, 18, of Lafayette, Calif., for Looking for Home, a poetry club that works to empower high school students with confidence and eliminate stereotypes.

The recipients were selected by committees of educators and community leaders from across the United States.

Nearly $1.5 million has been given out to 40 Jewish teens since the awards — the vision of Bay Area philanthropist Helen Diller — were first presented.


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