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Community First members awarded three $1,000 Greater Fox Cities Chapter of Credit Unions scholarships

Graduating seniors chosen for creative essays, extensive community and volunteer involvement

April 24, 2019


Graduating high school seniors from Appleton East, Hortonville and Oshkosh West  – all of whom are Community First member-owners and have been active school and community volunteers – have been selected for three $1,000 college scholarships offered annually by the Greater Fox Cities Chapter of Credit Unions (FCCCU).

Recipients honored on March 18 at a FCCCU chapter meeting were: Jenna Simo, an Appleton East senior who plans to study Elementary Education at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse; Samuel Vicchiollo, a Hortonville senior headed for marketing and communications studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison; and Garret Yakes, Oshkosh West senior who will pursue a mechanical engineering degree at Michigan Tech.

All three submitted creative essays surrounding the importance of credit while imparting lessons they have learned along the way from their credit union, Personal Finance teachers and their parents. They also provided summaries of their extensive community involvement and volunteer efforts.

Six judges from participating chapter credit unions worked in teams of two to split up the 85 applications and choose their top choices. They then met as a group and chose the three winners.

Jenna Simo stands out with dedication to organ donation

Jenna’s high school career has been filled with volunteer work with several nonprofits, school and community organizations. She started working with the Wisconsin Donate Life organization supporting organ donation when she was 14. She volunteered at a variety of events as Dottie – the Donate Life mascot symbolizing the orange dot placed on driver’s licenses of people willing to be organ donors. Jenna was proud to help bring “attention to this amazing and life-changing choice.”

Besides being involved in school groups (Key Club, Link Crew, Student Council and National Honor Society), Jenna was pleased to help make patriotic blankets for veterans who reside at the state Veterans Home at King, including her grandfather. “It was such a rewarding experience to know that I could bring happiness to these heroes after everything they have done for our country.”

Jenna is planning to major in elementary education at UW-La Crosse.

From Hortonville to Peru, Samuel Vicchiollo finds ways to give back

For more than six years, Sam has been an active volunteer and leader at school, in the community and even in South America. He is president of the Country Slickers 4H Club, having served previously as treasurer, secretary and vice president while getting involved as Salvation Army bell ringers, county fair volunteers and hosting pound sales and auctions to raise money for local nonprofits.

At school, Sam is active in SWAP (Students With A Purpose) where he is helping the fight against drug and alcohol use among teens while also promoting positive mental health, a passion of his.

Through his church, he has cleaned up trash along highways, laid gravel walkways and placed mulch around trees, and assisted with renovations to homes with disabled residents. Sam enjoyed bringing help, food and the word of God to poor neighborhoods in Milwaukee and last summer went to Lima, Peru. “No experience in my life has ever been more rewarding than watching someone smile because of an act of kindness I did,” he said. “I am excited to grow this selfless mentality, and to see how I can continue to positively impact my local community.”

Sam plans to study marketing and communications at UW-Madison.

Garret Yakes’ hundreds of volunteer hours has helped young and old

A judge noted that Garret had contributed “tons of volunteer hours” going back to grade school when he helped at church as an altar server, helping with kids’ games at the church picnic and serving food at Lenten fish fries. He would also place flags at a cemetery on Memorial Day, assist at Breakfast with Santa, stock shelves at the food pantry and serve as a youth leader for Vacation Bible School.

Garret had a lot of fun over the years but most enjoyed spending over 100 hours with senior citizens as a rickshaw bike driver volunteer at Bethel Home, duty that “enriched my life doing something that I loved.” He would often use his savings to go through the Dairy Queen drive-thru and treat his passengers to an ice cream cone for sharing “their life stories as they journeyed down memory lane.”

Since age 14, he has volunteered over 400 hours at Mercy Medical Center, helping at the Information Desk, assisting discharged patients, running errands, bringing food trays to patient care unit and more. “I have built lasting friendships, enriched my life and learned new things that have taught me valuable lessons and helped mold me into the person that I am today,” he said.

Garret plans to study mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech.