The Mercy Home family, including coworkers, kids, and friends of the Home, gathered on June 20, for Among the Stars: Annual Youth Awards Banquet. This event was formerly known as the Academy Awards and celebrates the hard work and achievements of our young people throughout the school year. The name Among the Stars was inspired by a quote from Norman Vincent Peale: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

The event kicked off with a welcome from the Vice President of Education and Career Resources Liz Kuhn Tomka and Sheil Home’s Carlos, who served as the emcees of the event. Fr. Scott Donahue then took the mic to give the evening’s invocation.

Carlos and Liz awards

Fr. Scott told a story from his childhood about the memory of lying on the warm cement as a child and letting the heat surround him.

“Being embraced, enveloped, feeling warmth, secure, it really is an image to me of what we’re about at Mercy Home in so many ways,” he said. “Creating an environment, an opportunity, a future, a hope, a dream for our young people who we celebrate tonight.”

Clemente award“Being embraced, enveloped, feeling warmth, secure, it really is an image to me of what we’re about at Mercy Home in so many ways,” he said. “Creating an environment, an opportunity, a future, a hope, a dream for our young people who we celebrate tonight.”

He also congratulated Mercy Home’s 52 graduates and commended their hard work.

“That’s accomplished through your hard work, dedication, your belief in yourself and the dreams you have,” he said. “It’s accomplished by any array of coworkers who believe in you, who embrace and envelope your dreams as well. To all of our young people, congratulations on completing another year of school.”

After dinner, Sierra of Couderc Home addressed the audience and shared how she overcame academic struggles while at Mercy Home, and how being here inspired her to pursue a career in art therapy. Following Sierra’s speech, Perspectives/IIT Math & Science Academy was presented with the Education Partnership Award for “outstanding commitment to students’ academic and personal growth” by Fr. Scott and Kordny Rainey-Robinson, the senior coordinator of education resources.

Sierra award

Two special awards were also given out: Clemente from Quille Home received the Mary Dempsey Scholar Award and Destiny of Couderc Home received the Bill Gainer Spirit of Service Award. The Bill Gainer Award is a new award presented this year, in honor of longtime friend of the Home and board member Bill Gainer, who passed away earlier this year. Bill’s mentee, Rick Erickson of AT&T, was there to honor both Bill and Destiny.

“That’s accomplished through your hard work, dedication, your belief in yourself and the dreams you have,” he said. “It’s accomplished by any array of coworkers who believe in you, who embrace and envelope your dreams as well. To all of our young people, congratulations on completing another year of school.”

Coworkers from both Education and Career Resources and AfterCare then presented individual awards to a number of our kids for things like highest GPA, most improved, and for participating in After School Programs.

Deandre award

The final awards of the evening were given to Brianna of Couderc Home and Deandre of Daley Home for being the “All Star of the Year.” These awards were given to Brianna and Deandre for their hard work and commitment to academic excellence throughout the year. Members of our Youth Advisory Board were also called to the stage for recognition.

After closing remarks from Liz and Carlos, the event concluded and gave our kids time for pictures and to mingle before heading back to Mercy Home. It was a great night of celebration, and we are so proud of our kids’ hard work and many accomplishments throughout the school year.

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