We are proud to announce Hephzibah’s 2020 HeartPrint award winners: Zack Zubkus and Nina Petrosino, both of whom are extraordinary young people and both just graduated from Oak Park River Forest High School (OPRF).
Zack Zubkus has been involved with Hephzibah since 2018 as a Big Brother and as a Summer Day Care volunteer. He has stood out since he began, for his dedication to the children, his responsibility, and the personal touches he brings to the work he’s done.
As one of the volunteer coordinators says of Zack: “I wanted to contact you [Hannah Weigel, Hephzibah’s Volunteer Manager] about a particular volunteer. While all of the volunteers have been so, so wonderful and I am so grateful for all of their help, one has truly gone above and beyond. His name is Zack. He comes in regularly, knows the kids’ names and knows them personally. He is an absolute natural with the kids, too, and I’m sure he will be so missed by them!! He has truly blown the “Hephzibah volunteer” job description out of the water. He is caring, kind and silly with all staff and kids and we are all so grateful for everything he’s done for us this summer. He undoubtedly deserves recognition for all his hard work!!”.
Zack chose to become involved with Hephzibah at the recommendation of a family friend who had been involved with Hephzibah for many years.
“One of my favorite memories at Hephzibah was the first time my little brother beat me at connect 4,” Zack said. “He had been pretending like he had no idea how to play, but he suddenly pulled out a bunch of crazy moves and won the game. I never had a chance and haven’t ever won a game with him!”
“Another favorite memory is my last day working at the summer camp program Hephzibah held at Lincoln Elementary. When I finally left that day, several hours later than usual, I had to wade through a whole mob of kids who were trying to keep me from leaving.”
Next year Zack will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working towards a degree in Nursing. “Working with Hephzibah has allowed me to meet so many amazing people, both kids and staff…It’s been a great time.”
Nina Petrosino, our other 2020 HeartPrint Award winner, has been an active volunteer with Hephzibah for several years; she has been an OPRF Huskie Helper for 4 years, a Huskie Helper officer for two years, and a Big Sister since November 2019.
“I chose to volunteer for Hephzibah mostly because I admire Hephzibah’s mission to help young children in a transitional time of their life,” Nina said. “I also chose Hephzibah because the OPRF Huskie Helpers was such a fun way to get involved. It was great to join other kids my age who wanted to work together to plan events for the kids living at Hephzibah Home.”
“One of my favorite memories was when I was watching an OPRF football game with the Hephzibah kids. This particular game, the kids were so excited, they could barely sit still in the stands. I remember dancing with the kids who were trying to copy some of the cheerleaders and cheering. It was so fun to see the kids have such a great time and share it with them.”
“Another great memory is of the 2019 Rodeo [a fun, annual event organized by the OPRF Huskie Helpers for the kids of Hephzibah Home]. I was the selected DJ for the day and I was sitting near the speaker—the kids couldn’t get enough of the song “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X and we had it on repeat, the kids didn’t get tired of singing and dancing! They were so eager to show me their newly learned dance moves, it was an awesome time!”
Nina says her `work with Hephzibah affected her in many positive ways.
“Connecting with the kids has been so enjoyable,” she said. “It introduced me to people of different backgrounds than my own and listen to their experiences; this has made me a more sympathetic person. It was an honor to surround myself with these amazing kids and be a role model to them. My time at Hephzibah has shaped me into the person I am today.”
Next fall, Nina will be attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study Political Science. According to Nina, “One day, I hope to create change within the system.”
Hephzibah is truly grateful to these remarkable volunteers. Zack and Nina, we wish you all the best of everything as you embark on your next journey, we will miss you! But we know that wherever you go, you’ll take a piece of Hephzibah with you.