dessenThe Edgar L. Dessen Community Service Award recognizes area high school students and their volunteer efforts in the community. Through the Dessen award, a scholarship to Junior Leadership of Hazleton is awarded to eligible high school students to further their experience in service and learning leadership and teamwork skills. Scholarships to Junior Leadership of Hazleton are awarded to sophomores from each of the area high schools: Hazleton Area High School, Weatherly Area High School, MMI Preparatory School, Immanuel Christian High School and Marian Catholic High School.

The scholarship is named after CAN DO's founder, Dr. Edgar L. Dessen. In 1956, volunteers from the communities of Greater Hazleton rallied with Dr. Dessen to establish CAN DO, the Community Area Economic Development Organization. At that time, the future of Hazleton was bleak, and the need for new business and jobs was paramount. What seemed to be impossible turned into reality. Industry came to Hazleton. Jobs became available. And it was the work of volunteers that made it possible - a group of area residents who banded together and turned the tide.

It was Dr. Dessen who quoted Sir Isaac Newton, “If I have seen further… it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.”

"Upon the Shoulders of Giants" became the way Dessen described the strength he received from community volunteers in his leadership role of establishing and growing CAN DO.

Today, the spirit of volunteerism thrives in this area. CAN DO, the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce, the many agencies of the United Way of Greater Hazleton, the Hazleton Area Public Library, hospital boards, schools, places of worship, telethons, community service groups and many, many other organizations all benefit from community volunteers.

The Dessen award and Junior Leadership of Hazleton encourage youth to volunteer in their community as they learn valuable leadership skills.

Recipients of the Dessen scholarship by year are:

2014-15: Jody Landis, Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences; Ana Ortiz, Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences; Angela LaRose, Hazleton Area High School; Meghan Moon, Weatherly Area High School; Justin Olander, Hazleton Area High School; Juliana Oberto, Marian Catholic High School; and Lindsey Walko, MMI Preparatory School.

2013-14: Ali Stahr, Hazleton Area High School; Carly Pecora, Immanuel Christian School; Faith Befano, Marian Catholic High School; William Spear, MMI Preparatory School; and Jessica Polchin, Weatherly Area High School.

2012-13: Walker Day, Immanuel Christian School; Rachel Moon, Weatherly Area High School; Hayle Shearer, MMI Preparatory School; Amanda Srinivasan, Marian Catholic High School; and Morgan Stahr, Hazleton Area High School.

2011-12: Jessica Adamczyk, Weatherly Area High School; Lea Chocolas, Marian Catholic High School; Alyssa Damiano, Hazleton Area High School; Kelly Schwiker, Immanuel Christian School; and Kirsten Young, MMI Preparatory School.

2010-11: Scott Boehret, Immanuel Christian School; Emily Burger, Marian Catholic High School; George Gera, MMI Preparatory School; Michael Kimmel, Hazleton Area Career Center; and Karlee Ursta, Weatherly Area High School.

2009-10: Thomas Delahanty, Hazleton Area High School; Susan Funk, Weatherly Area High School; Christine Valente, Marian Catholic High School; and Laura Vinatieri, Immanuel Christian School.

2008-09: Nicole Caccese, Weatherly Area High School; Sarah Careyva, MMI Preparatory School; Allison Diehl, Hazleton Area High School; Sarah Murray, Immanuel Christian School; and Theresa Patten, Marian Catholic High School.

2007-08: Veronica Jacober, Hazleton Area High School; Kelly Medico, Weatherly Area High School; Lauren Paulshock, Bishop Hafey High School/Hazleton Area High School; Mitchell Sauers, MMI Preparatory School; and Carol Vinatieri, Immanuel Christian School.

2006-07: David Falacko, Immanuel Christian School; Molly Hearity, Bishop Hafey High School; Dante Palermo, Weatherly Area High School; Megha Patel, MMI Preparatory School; and Drew Samoyedny, Hazleton Area High School.

2005-06: Kenna Margevich, Bishop Hafey High School; Laura Mazur, Weatherly Area High School; Rebecca Price, MMI Preparatory School; Katie Van Horn, Hazleton Area High School; and Keith Younger, Hazleton Area High School.

2004-05: Frank D'Andrea, Weatherly Area High School; Amanda Kolensky, Hazleton Area High School; John Kuklis, Bishop Hafey High School; Jessica Malloy, MMI Preparatory School; and Alicia Yanac, Bishop Hafey High School.

2003-04: Philip Davis, Hazleton Area High School; Michael Dougherty, Bishop Hafey High School; Sherri Homanko, Hazleton Area High School; Lauren Kelshaw, Weatherly Area High School; and Lisa Molendini, Hazleton Area High School.

2002-03: Kelly Barron, MMI Preparatory School; Kyle Bird, Weatherly Area High School; Brian Fiore, Hazleton Area High School; Meredith Labuda, Hazleton Area High School; and Richard Sypeck, Bishop Hafey High School.