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Teenagers say YES! to volunteer work.

A group of outstanding Mississippi teenagers is giving back to the state and helping coastal residents recover by taking part in a unique service program called Youth Engaged in Service or "YES!."

This opportunity for volunteerism is enabled by a partnership between the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service and Learn & Serve America. The YES! program recruits and trains high-school students to be service leaders in their communities.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, these teenage volunteers have found a way to help coastal families by delivering school supplies and backpacks to elementary schools and by helping to rebuild damaged homes. All 25 Mississippi YES! teen volunteers joined First Lady Laura Bush for a January workday in the town of Kiln.

Sixteen-year-old YES! member Ja'Detrus Hamilton of Leakesville received the President's Volunteer Service Award and was a guest of the First Lady during President Bush's State of the Union address in January. Hamilton, who with his family was forced to leave home and find shelter at a church during the hurricane, was moved by his experience to help others on the coast. Two other Mississippi YES! members, sisters Katie and Karl'Nequa Ball, also received the President's Volunteer Service Awards for their work training students to serve and for developing a program to help the disabled.

"Volunteering is something that everyone can do," says Hamilton. "It doesn't matter how old you are, it doesn't matter if you are the star athlete or number one in your class--it's great because anyone can give back and serve."

For more information on the Mississippi Commission for Volunteer Service, call 6011432-6779 or see www.mcvs.org.
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Title Annotation:after the storm: hope after the hurricane
Author:Cook, Lacey
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:May 1, 2006
Words:270
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