The Salvation Army and the Dallas Cowboys announced recently that Jennie Onitsuka, 19, of Mililani, Hawaii, is one of four national finalists for the first-ever Salvation Army and Dallas Cowboys National Youth Service Award. The finalists were recognized for their exemplary volunteer service for The Salvation Army at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.
Onitsuka was joined by the other award nominees, Salvation Army officials, and the Youth Award panel of celebrity judges including sports reporter and actress Lisa Guerrero, Miss Teen USA 2003 Tami Farrell and Christian rock artist Bethany Dillon to draw attention to the important role teens play in serving the community.
“Our youth volunteers make an incredible impact on local Salvation Army programs,” said Salvation Army National Commander Commissioner W. Todd Bassett. “We are very grateful to this generation of volunteers, and we want them to know they play a very strong role in helping us serve the community.”
Nominated by The Salvation Army’s Leeward Corps, Onitsuka has been volunteering for the Army for ten years, motivated by the death of her father who was instrumental in developing many of the Army’s youth sports programs.
Onitsuka currently leads singing company, teaches a sign language class, volunteers at a Salvation Army preschool, teaches Sunday school classes and serves as an assistant teacher for a Salvation Army Girl Guard troop program. Onitsuka says she is motivated to continue her father’s legacy by reaching out to the youth in her community.
The two other award finalists—Ashlee Norris, 14, of Des Moines, Iowa and Chandler Drake, 19, of Ponte Vedra, Florida—and National Youth Service Award winner Misty DeMichael, 20, of Newark, Ohio, joined Jennie in Washington D.C.
DeMichael received a $10,000 scholarship for her college education, donated by Dallas Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones and his family. Gene and Jerry Jones are members of The Salvation Army’s Dallas (Tex.) County Board and the National Advisory Board.