On Monday, January 20th, Ursuline junior Raceja Velavan was recognized as one of Norwood’s annual T.O.N.Y. (Ten Outstanding Norwood Youth) award winners. The awards are given out each year to Norwood residents in grades 10-12 who are making significant contributions of time, effort, and talent to volunteerism, church, or other charitable causes. The program seeks to honor these individuals and offer them as positive role models to younger students.
After her nomination in November, Raceja was required to submit a summary of her activities and an essay about her personal growth through volunteer community service. Raceja shared that over the past four years, she has spent close to 300 hours volunteering at the Norwood Food Pantry, 120 hours at the Morrill Memorial Library, and 80 hours helping at St. Catherine of Siena’s Bible Camp. In addition to her community work, Raceja has spent her time at Ursuline Academy in the robotics club, the math club, pre-med club, science club, and speech team. She has also worked as an iHub intern, and helped the admissions department at their annual Open House.
Raceja credits her community work with helping her grow in confidence and making her happy. “I was a very timid person back in middle school and volunteering in these service activities sparked something within me, being able to express myself, and being happy for helping others. I’m happy to help out at the Norwood Food Pantry and help the clients with their necessities, because I am able to put a smile on their faces and show that I’m always there to help. I love volunteering at the Morrill Memorial Library as well, because I really like working with small kids and their arts and crafts projects.”
The T.O.N.Y. award event is organized by the Orient Lodge of Masons and winners were selected by a panel of judges to receive a citation signed by Governor Charlie Baker, along with a plaque and a cash prize.