Monday, May 11, 2009

Recognizing Youthlaunch Service Scholarship Recipient, No. 1

Ethan Garza, Sinton
2009 YouthLaunch Service Scholarship Recipient

Ethan Garza has had a big impact on his small hometown of Sinton, Texas. As a member of the Future Problem Solving Program, Ethan was encouraged to identify a challenge in his community and create a solution to address it—so he single-handedly started a project to rejuvenate the elderly community in Sinton.

In his junior year, Ethan became an advocate for what he calls “the most dignified group of people I have ever encountered: the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #8625 and its Ladies’ Auxiliary.” Noticing a decline in the organization as its members aged, he decided to revitalize his local VFW post.

Ethan independently planned and carried out a membership drive for the VFW, cleaned up its dilapidated building, and helped members place flags at cemeteries on national holidays. He also interviewed veterans and wrote newspaper articles highlighting a different VFW member each week.

In an effort to increase community support for the VFW, Ethan took his project to the city council, Rotary Club, School Board, and even State Representative Juan Garcia. And he didn’t let setbacks deter him. He says, “I had to realize that no community service project or activity has instant results.” When he initially encountered some negative responses to his planned project, he was discouraged—but instead of giving up, he contacted the editor of the local newspaper and wrote an article about his experience that garnered community support.

As a result of Ethan’s efforts, Sinton’s VFW membership has increased by 10% and its members have been inspired to re-engage with their community. This year, the VFW entered a float in the annual Christmas parade, something they hadn’t done in years.

Ethan’s connection to the elderly and dedication to improving their lives has taken many forms, from dressing up as Santa Claus at the local nursing home to drawing attention to the need for a Veteran’s Administration Hospital in the Coastal Bend. For his dedication to the elderly community in Sinton, Ethan received the “Beyonder Award” at the Texas Future Problem Solving State Bowl.

Ethan plans to study biology and eventually become a doctor. After he’s completed his schooling he plans to return to Sinton because, he says, “people in this part of Texas are in desperate need of doctors who want to practice in rural areas. I won’t forget where my roots are, and I’ll come back to help the community that provided me with a great education.”

Ethan was selected from more than 100 applicants state-wide for this recognition.


The Luncheon recognizing Ethan and the other two recipients is June 11, 2009 at 11:30-1:00pm at the Hyatt Regency of Austin. The Luncheon will also recognize Youthlaunch's own youth participants in its programs for service excellence. For more information about the event, go to:

1 comment:

James T. Parsons said...

The following is an excerpt from a letter that is being sent to Ethan:

"I am honored to recognize the amazing accomplishments of Mr. Ethan Garza, a Texas high school student, for outstanding service to his community. It warms my heart to hear that this fine citizen has shown so much dedication and commitment to better the lives of others, and at such an early age.

.... What a great example for us all – and especially to other young people in his school, his community, and throughout the state of Texas. Bravo and congratulations for receiving the 2009 YouthLaunch Service Scholarship Award!"

Gregory H. Johnson
Col, USAF (Ret)
STS-123 Shuttle Pilot