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Specialized Schools Distinguished Service Award 2020-2021

It is with great pleasure that we presented Yeulanda Degala and Rachael Hooker with the 2020-2021 Distinguished Service Award.  

On the night of March 12, 2020, friends Rachael Hooker and Yeulanda Degala created a Facebook group called Neighbors Helping Neighbors in Arlington Heights. Using compassion and empathy, along with exceptional networking abilities, they sought to organize neighborhoods around anticipated needs within the community. The next morning their efforts yielded responses from a few hundred people; by afternoon, thousands of local individuals offered support. Massive amounts of food and resources have been donated and distributed to vulnerable households in our community as a result of their selfless expression of kindness, mostly with the help of area social workers. 

One of the many projects the group undertook this year was an ambitious goal of providing $100 gift cards to each student in our Newcomer Center. A small team of volunteers decorated gift bags and collected the gift cards and distributed them with letters of encouragment.  Not only did they provide the gift cards to all of the Newcomer students, but they raised enough funds to distribute over $2000 of additional gift cards to other D214 schools and community members in need.  During a time when we controlled so little, this group of volunteers served as a beacon of hope to Newcomer students and families.