On Thursday April 12, at Rockdale Temple in Amberley Village, American Jewish Committee (AJC Cincinnati) celebrated the 53rd anniversary of the Lazarus Awards at a ceremony in which one junior winner and four junior finalists and one senior winner and four senior finalists were presented with cash prizes and recognition of their volunteer accomplishments. Archbishop McNicholas High School senior Alexis Gauger and junior Shea Dugan were named finalists for the awards.
AJC Cincinnati recognized Gauger for her work with the DACA campaign she led at McNicholas. “I have supported immigrants for a long time, but until this campaign I didn’t really know how to put my words into action,” Gauger said. “When I saw the Archdiocese of Cincinnati had requested letters to support DACA, I immediately wanted to participate”.
Gauger has participated in several human relation activities that make a difference in the lives of so many. Other volunteer commitments include volunteering at a riding center that provides therapeutic horsemanship experience to children and adults with disabilities as well as packing food bags families can enjoy during weekends throughout the year. Traveling to rural Tennessee to serve others, Gauger visited nursing homes, chopped firewood and providing a listening ear while learning about the people and culture of the Appalachian region of the state.
AJC Cincinnati named Dugan a finalist for her work feeding children. “My school has taught me how fulfilling it is to help others,” Dugan said. She does not take for granted her ability to grab a sandwich or a piece of fruit over the weekend, as her family’s pantry is regularly stocked. Dugan helps package food for residents of a local orphanage once a week, understanding that these children have no other source of food when they go home to their families.
In addition, Dugan has been coaching an elementary school volleyball team. “I love getting to teach new kids how to play and to see them grow to love the sport as well,” she said. “I now think of service as not a requirement, but something that I will always have in my life.”
Since 1965, dozens of public, private, and parochial high schools throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky have nominated deserving students for this prestigious award. The 2018 Lazarus Award judges were Angela L. Byers, Senior Law Enforcement Executive/Officer; Sarah Hairston, Director, Otto M. Budig Academy Training, Cincinnati Ballet; Jeff Pastor, Council Member, City of Cincinnati; Rev. James R. (Father Jim) Schutte, Pastor, St. Leo the Great Parish; and Eddie Tyner, President, Enquirer Media and USA TODAY Network for Ohio and Louisville.