Park City teen earns statewide honor of Outstanding Young Volunteer
Ben Amiel, an 18-year-old Park City resident, has been named Utah’s 2019 Outstanding Young Volunteer.
The award, given during Utah Philanthropy Day, an event put on by a handful of altruistic organizations to celebrate the spirit of philanthropy and volunteerism, is a statewide honor given to people who are 30 years or younger for showing dedication in extended work in their communities.
Amiel was slated to be recognized for his work on behalf of Jewish Family Service in a ceremony on Tuesday in Salt Lake City.
“It’s an honor, and it’s nice to be able to see my actions have not gone without recognition of the community, and that I’ve inspired volunteerism in others,” he said. “But the real reward for me is being able to see the direct effect my work has on people in the community.”
Amiel mostly works in sorting and stocking food in Jewish Family Service’s food pantry in Salt Lake City, and he also has put in many hours working with the social-services nonprofit’s music and memory program, where he collects electronic music devices for people who have dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
He started volunteering at the food pantry when he was 14.
“I got a job at Papa Murphy’s Pizza, the only place that would hire a 14-year-old because they didn’t have an oven on site,” he said. “When I was there, I realized how harsh the regulations were regarding expirations, so a lot of food went to waste.”
After seeing food being thrown away, he decided to volunteer every other Friday at the food pantry, where not a lot of food went to waste.
“The Utah Food Bank would deliver food to us, and I would sort and stock the cans on the shelves,” he said.
When Jewish Family Service expanded the pantry a few years ago, Amiel built the shelves.
Jewish Family Service Executive Director Ellen Silver said Amiel does more than sort, stock and build shelves.
“When new volunteers come to the pantry, he shows them the ropes,” she said. “He’s a young man who puts his values into action, and that’s commendable in someone his age.”
Silver was the person who sent in the nomination for the award, said Amiel’s mother, Darcy, president-elect of the Jewish Family Service board of directors.
“She called me over the summer and told me about the award,” Darcy Amiel said. “And there was a lot we had to do. We had to get letters of recommendation from two teachers at school, and we had to show who he was as a student and what he was involved in at school.”
Silver sent in the nomination during the summer, and received the news a few weeks ago.
“We learned he got the award while he was away at debate camp in Los Angeles,” Darcy Amiel said. “Ellen told me not to tell him, because she wanted to take him out to lunch when he got back to tell him the news.”
Silver said Amiel comes from a family that is committed to serving the community.
“Darcy and her husband Jack are people who see the importance of giving back,” she said. “Those values have been instilled in him, and it shows.”
Amiel said he plans to do some sort of volunteering for the rest of his life.
“I know when I get to college, that I’ll want to see what organizations are there that I can join to help the community,” he said. “I don’t know where I will be after college, but I do know that I want to continue to serve the community.”
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