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Celebrating Sydney Olmsted: Youth Scholarship Award Winner

Photo of Sydney Olmsted courtesy of The Post-Crescent.


While many of us are rolling out of bed, 18-year-old Sydney Olmsted many mornings is out in the community, cooking and serving breakfast to homeless people at Pillars Adult & Family Shelter in Appleton. As a 4.0 GPA student at Appleton East High School, a three-sport athlete, a member of the National Honor Society, the Key Club and DECA, and a part-time job holder, Sydney finds time to volunteer whenever and wherever she can.

NBC 26 has aired the first of seven Celebrating Volunteers awardees. News anchor Stacy Engebretson is compiling these background stories on a few of our 2019 award winners, starting with Sydney, who received this year’s Youth Scholarship Award sponsored by Community First Credit Union.

Here’s a snippet of that report:

“It is really cool to see them all come in and just be really welcomed by a good smell of a yummy breakfast and just have a hot meal prepared for them, kind of talk to them and get their day off to a great start. It’s a really good feeling,” Sydney explained.

“We rake the lawns of elderly and the disabled in the community. We donate lots of canned goods to St. Joe’s Food Pantry. I volunteer at Feeding America where we package food that goes directly into the community as well, Special Olympics and just so many other things.”

It’s this juggling act and dedication to helping others that compelled Olmsted’s Senior Communications teacher, Kathy Marx, to nominate Sydney for the Celebrating Volunteers’ Youth Scholarship Award.

As the Award recipient, Sydney will receive a $1,500 scholarship to put towards her education at UW-Madison. She wants to study to become a speech pathologist. She will also receive another $1,000 from Community First Credit Union to donate to the charity of her choice.

“I love that she chose Pillars, because it’s close to her heart,” said Marx. (Read the rest here)

Here’s the full video featured last night on NBC26, one of the Celebrating Volunteers community partners:

Congratulations to Sydney and to the other six awardees and their sponsors:

  • Community First Credit Union and the Sexual Assault Crisis Center — Business Partnership of the Year Award sponsored by SECURA Insurance
  • Sydney Olmsted — Youth Scholarship Award sponsored by Community First Credit Union
  • Cindy Reffke — Janet Berry Volunteer of the Year Award sponsored by The Post-Crescent
  • Kayla Schuh — Health Care Volunteer Award sponsored by Ascension and ThedaCare
  • Sharon Hulce — Walter L. Rugland Community Service Award sponsored by Thrivent Financial
  • Karla Huston — Hanns Kretzschmar Award for Excellence in the Arts sponsored by Thrivent Financial
  • Dick Calder — Paul & Elaine Groth Mentoring Award sponsored by the Mielke Family Foundation

Each award comes with a $5,000 gift for the charity chosen by the awardee. The youth award recipient receives $1,000 for charity and a $1,500 scholarship. Since the event started in 1998, award sponsors have given $691,000 to local charities selected by their award recipients.

You’re invited to the gala celebration

2018 Celebrating Volunteers winners at the gala

Ready to get gussied up for the gala? The community is invited to celebrate the volunteer spirit and service of Fox Valley volunteers at the 22nd annual Celebrating Volunteers community gala on Wed., May. 1, at the Red Lion Hotel Paper Valley in Appleton. The Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region and The Post-Crescent sponsor the event.

Individual registrations can be purchased for $35. A table of 10 may be reserved for $350. A limited number of complimentary reservations are available for local nonprofits who wish to honor and bring their organization’s volunteer of the year. Registration deadline is Friday, April 19. Register online HERE.

The reception starts at 5:15 pm, followed by dinner at 6 pm and the awards program at 6:45. A social opportunity to congratulate the winners wraps up the evening.


The Celebrating Volunteers gala event honors the volunteer spirit of Paul and Elaine Groth of Appleton, who died in an automobile accident in 1997. In addition to The Post-Crescent, media sponsors include NBC26 and WHBY radio. Additional support for this event comes from Associated Bank, Bemis, Katapult and Kimberly-Clark.

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