Salem High School senior Kaitlin Habeeb has received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award, which recognizes students “for outstanding community service,” according to SHS vice principal (and Kaitlin’s dad) Scott Habeeb.
Kaitlin’s service work has focused largely on working with students with special needs as part of the YoungLife program, Capernaum. In 2011 Kaitlin first attended the Capernaum summer camp in Rockbridge County, at which each camper was paired with a buddy.
“Being a buddy for someone else was the best week of her life,” Scott Habeeb said of Kaitlin’s camping experience.
She loved it so much, in fact, that she started the Be A Buddy Club at Salem High School as a junior the following year. The club pairs members with special needs students at the high school. Kaitlin’s sister, Kelsey Habeeb–a freshman at SHS, is also involved with the Be A Buddy Club.
Kaitlin’s involvement in Capernaum and her work with the Be A Buddy Club has even inspired her other younger sister, McKenna Habeeb, a fifth grader at South Salem Elementary, who wants to start a Be A Buddy Club at Andrew Lewis Middle School next year, according to Scott. McKenna is already a part of South Salem’s Autism Awareness Team.
“This group of students who are sometimes isolated have the opportunity to interact with the rest of the high school,” Scott said of the special needs students. “As a father, it’s been exciting to watch, and as an administrator it’s encouraging to see her start a club that will last beyond her time [at Salem High School].”
Kaitlin will receive her certificate for the Presidential Volunteer Service Award during the high school’s senior awards ceremony in May.