Jefferson Award Winner: Grant Genovese

Jefferson Awards

Highlighting Local Volunteers

The Jefferson Awards engages the Partners in our communities to highlight local volunteers. The goal is to spotlight the great work they do and to inspire our community to put their service ideas into action.

From the 2019-2020 Honorees, a local panel of judges select one winner that will travel to the National Gala in Washington, DC. to represent Northeast Kansas.  From the nationwide winners, one will be selected for a national Jefferson Award.

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – 15-year-old Grant Genovese from Topeka is a teenager wise beyond his years.

Grant’s a part-time worker at Topeka’s Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It’s a job he’s worked hard to get, and it all started a little over a year ago when Grant was 14 and volunteering countless hours every week at the store.

“You don’t often see a 14-year-old willing to sacrifice their time and give back to the community in the way that Grant has,” Nikki MacMillan, Executive Director at the ReStore said. “To have somebody that shows up week after week and you’re not paying them, and they don’t have any reason to be here other than the goodness of their own heart.”

Since initially starting at the ReStore Grant’s logged over 500 volunteer hours. Grant admits it’s been time well spent, but because it’s not common for a teenager to give back, Grant’s got a little flack from his friends, “I even had some friends who were kind of making fun of me just because I was volunteering,” Grant said.

Joke all they way, Grant didn’t let it get to him, he knew he was doing something that mattered, “Places are needing people to volunteer,” he said. “If you want to make an impact in your community that’s a good way to do it.”

For context, here’s a quick and brief description of how the ReStore and Topeka’s Habitat for Humanity makes a difference in the community — People donate new or barely used items from their homes. Like sinks, doors, chairs, lighting fixtures, the list goes on and on.

Then once those items that were donated are sold, that money goes right into Topeka Habitats mission: To build affordable, safe homes, for families in need.

Since Grant’s not old enough to help build the homes, you have to be at least 16, he volunteers at the store.

Over the summer he found another way to give back, dedicating his Eagle Scout Project to building an entire playhouse and jungle gym for a group of kids living in neighboring Habitat for Humanity homes.

“It was very rewarding when all the kids got there, and you could just see how happy they were when they were inside the playhouse,” Grant said.

At 15-years-old Grant’s already realized the importance of giving back and helping your community. At a time when many people worry about what the future will hold with the upcoming generation, Grant’s a reminder that maybe we’re in good hands after all.


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