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Teenagers honored for good deeds.

On November 5, the Creative Living Counseling Center in Allendale, New Jersey, recognized 16 teenagers from Bergen and Passaic counties for their service to others.

"There are lots of students who are doing great things for others, so we wanted to highlight them," Gretchen Janssen, executive director of the center, told the North Jersey Media Group, publishers of the Record and the Herald News. The teenagers who were honored included:

* Toni Marie Brown, an 11th-grader from New Milford, who volunteered at Bergen Regional Medical Center in Paramus for five years. Toni drove patients, helped to sort and distribute Christmas gifts to patients, organized art projects for residents, and assisted residents with physical exercises.

* Natalia Cruz, a 10th-grader from Fair Lawn, who worked with an environmental group to clean the bank of the Passaic River. Natalia also tutors a special-education classmate in middle school and leads the music class for poor children at her church in Paterson.

* Liz Diemer, a 12th-grader from Ridgewood, who raised money for charities. Liz also organized fundraising events that raised and distributed more than $7,000 to Hurricane Katrina victims in Louisiana and Mississippi. She also organized bake sales for a foundation to memorialize a classmate who died of cancer and prepared meals for homeless people in Paterson.

* Jillian Duarte, another 12th-grader from Ridgewood, who went on a mission trip to Mexico organized by West Side Presbyterian Church. Jillian helped to build a concrete block house, helped run a vacation church school for children, and worked in a free dental clinic in Reynosa, Mexico. A frequent volunteer, Jillian helped with food drives with Social Services, worked in a soup kitchen, organized a program to collect puzzles for children in disadvantaged schools, and volunteered in the cancer unit at Hackensack University Medical Center.

* Walter Galvez, a 12th-grader from Pompton Plains, who continually volunteers at his church to help those in need. He also works with Good Counsel Homes in Hoboken, spending his Saturday mornings cleaning, painting, and building a home for single mothers and their babies. Walter also volunteered in the Interfaith homeless shelters and has been a counselor for Vacation Bible School.

The other teenagers not mentioned because of space also gave generously of their time and youthful energy. They represent the best qualities of the youth of America.
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Author:Mass, Warren
Publication:The New American
Date:Dec 25, 2006
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