Congressional awards given to 7 youth

Three sisters, Amy, Lori and Emily Smedley, have learned the meaning of service to others.

The sisters have each been presented Gold U.S. Congressional Awards for their achievements in voluntary public service, personal development and fitness. They are the daughters of Roger and Janet Smedley of the Meadow Ward, Salt Lake Riverside Stake.When the oldest, Amy, 22, received her award in 1995, only three Utahns had preceded her in receiving the honor. And Emily, 17, the youngest of the three sisters, is the youngest person ever to receive the award.

Lori and Emily are among seven LDS youth from four states to receive the Congressional Award this year. A total of 22 youth from 10 states received medals at the 1998 ceremony. Other LDS youth to receive the award are:

Christina A. Poston of the Long Beach 10th ward, Long Beach California East Stake; Kimberly K. Nye, Meridian 19th Ward, Meridian Idaho East Stake; Shawn E. Youngberg, Monocasy Ward, Frederick Maryland Stake; Stephanie Barney, Cache Valley Hearing Impaired Ward, Logan Utah Central Stake; and Nicole Peterson, Bluffdale 2nd Ward, Bluffdale Utah Stake.

The Congressional awards were presented in June in the Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol in a ceremony attended by many members of Congress. The medals are given by members of Congress for service, personal development, fitness and participation in a wilderness expedition or foreign country exploration. Young men and young women, ages 14-23, register with the national Congressional Award office in Washington, D.C., and then seek to achieve various goals.

Amy, who is currently serving in the Barcelona Spain Mission, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Utah in 1997. She was the first-ever recipient of the Beehive Alumni Association Scholarship, and has participated in Phi Kappa Phi, Mortar Board (an academic service organization) and as the Human Development and Family Studies Department student advisory committee chairwoman.

Lori completed her hours of community service at the Ronald McDonald House, the Salt Lake Public Library, the Primary Children's Regional Medical Center, at a homeless shelter and at a shelter for abused children. She was also a youth volunteer at Primary Children's Festival of Trees and for Church Humanitarian Services. She spent two summers as a camp counselor at Brighton LDS Girls Camp.

A junior at BYU majoring in speech pathology, she was a high school 4.0 honor student, a Deseret News-KSL Sterling Scholar and seminary president. She was vice president of Salt Lake City Mayor's Youth Council and president of the Future Homemakers of America.

"I always enjoyed working with children, so I chose to focus on children, and worked with lots of young children. I started at age 13, and it has been a way to learn good work habits while young."

She said her service with the homeless and with the abused children was aimed at helping them broaden their horizons and have a more positive outlook on life.

"We took the homeless children on a lot of field trips to raise their perspectives," she said. Activities were also held for the abused children to help raise their self-esteem.

"A lot of these homeless children have tunnel vision because of the lives of their parents. I hope we left them with the reality that they can do anything they want to do if they set their minds to it."

She said that "when serving others, they benefit and you benefit also. The more you get involved in the lives of others, the more relationships you develop that make life mean the most."

Emily, a senior honor student at West High School, sewed blankets and other craft items for donation to the Festival of Trees, served as a teacher's aide at the Children's Center, and in a volunteer service role at Salt Lake Regional Medical Center. She also tutored at several elementary schools, played the piano at retirement centers and completed 4-H community service projects.

She is student body secretary, member of the newspaper staff and varsity cheerleader. She has participated in Girls State sponsored by American Legion, and toured Mexico this summer as a member of Fame, a singing and dancing group.

"I like a busy life," said Emily. "I saw what my sisters had done, and I wanted to do that, too. One of my goals was to play the piano at a home for the elderly. I wanted to use my talents to help others, and when I played the piano, the residents would come and sing along. I made friends with them, and this helped me to appreciate my own grandmother more.

"My experience makes me want to do more. There are so many places that need help. Service helps you become a better person, and it helps them; it is a whole cycle."

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