Last Friday, 12 Quesnel youth received Ashleigh Smith Memorial Awards.
This one-time presentation, hosted by Ashleigh’s mother, Maria Dawson, recognized the youth’s community service and dedication to the arts, especially live arts.
“The requirements were they had to tell us what they contribute to the community,” Dawson explained.
“How they volunteered, and what they’ve done.
“Then they needed to tell us what they would do with the $500 award.”
Emphasis was put on community service because that’s who Ashleigh was, Dawson explained.
The response from the local youth was overwhelming, member of the selection committee, Janice Butler said.
“Receiving the letters of application made our hearts swell with love and happiness,” Butler said.
“We were really thrilled with the amount of people who applied.”
For one of the recipients, Lacey MacDonald, the award had an extra special meaning.
“I knew her through Youth Entertaining for Service,” MacDonald said.
“I thought she was a wonderful person.”
Rachel Baker, who also earned an Ashleigh Smith Memorial Award, was a good friend of Asheigh’s. Baker plans on using the grant towards school to become a counselor.
“I wrote about how inspiring Ashleigh was as a person, she always went for her dreams and didn’t really care about what other people thought of her,” Baker said.
“I’ve often thought of taking the quick route and doing some program so I can get out of school, but it always brings me back to thinking of her ambitions and it keeps me going towards my goal of being a counselor.”
The awards commemorate local artist Ashleigh Smith, who died in December 2008 in a car accident at the age of 17.
“She had this grin that when you got it, you got it,” said a teary-eyed Dawson said.
“So, if you guys could just smile to someone who isn’t smiling, and keep passing that on, it would mean the world to us.”
Bursaries in Ashleigh’s honour are now available through the Quesnel Community Foundation, the fund administrator.