May 19, 2014
By Kevin Weedmark
Moosomin’s Melissa Whelpton is a winner in the 2014 Saskatchewan Junior Citizen of the Year Award.
These prestigious awards, which include a $3,000 scholarship, are given to Saskatchewan youth who:
• Have a positive lifestyle
• Are dedicated to community and school
• Have a strong sense of caring and responsibility
• Have the ability to overcome life’s challenges
• Inspire others
• Are between ages 8 and 18
Each year, the Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association program showcases outstanding Saskatchewan youth.
In May, the members of the Junior Citizen selection committee gathered together at Government House in Regina and were faced with the challenging task of narrowing a large number of nominations down to just four. Besides Melissa, the winners are Kaitlyn Budzak of Regina, Morgan Fast of Swift Current, and Summer Michel-Stevenson of Pelican Narrows.
Joanne Enns, youth pastor at Moosomin Baptist Church, knows Melissa well.
“I got to know Melissa when she was in grade 5, and once she was in grade 7, she became a student in my youth group,” Enns says.
“Melissa is a good kid, she’s very responsible, she’s got a good head on her shoulders, she has a gentle spirit, she has a good heart for people, she’s a leader, she likes to help out—she’s a very large asset to our youth group.”
Enns said she was thrilled when she heard last week that Melissa won the Junior Citizen Award. “She really deserves this,” Enns said. “She was among the mission group to Cuba, she definitely has a heart for missions. We have done urban missions—she always thinks about the purpose. She thinks twice what is the purpose of what we are doing, and if we are going to serve people and make a difference, she’s there.”
McNaughton High School principal Jeff St. Onge said he believes Whelpton is a deserving winner.
“She is an absolute wonderful person,” he said Friday. “In the classroom she’s a wonderful, wonderful student. She is a go to person at the high school. If you need something done she is always more than willing to help.
“She is quick to volunteer, and if she says she’s going to do something, you can rest assured it is going to be done. She is a very, very deserving recipient.”
The nomination was submitted by Melissa’s grandmother, Doris Whelpton. “I think she really deserves this award for everything she does,” said Doris. “She has been such a great help this winter with her mom—She has been a good help to her whole family.
“I am very proud of her. I’m proud of all my grandchildren—they are wonderful kids, every one of them.”
Melissa says she was surprised to receive the award. “I was in shock when my grandma told me I won, and when she told me there was a $3,000 scholarship, she had to ask me ‘are you still there?’ ”
She says her friends and family are very happy for her, and “are in just as much shock as I am.”
Her mother René says her daughter always helps in any way she can, even if that means an inner-city mission trip or a trip to Cuba to help those less fortunate.
“I like mission trips because they really open your eyes,” she says. “Moosomin is pretty sheltered. Whenever there’s an opportunity I feel that it’s my responsibility to go and help when I’m so fortunate here.”
This year she had a choice. The school trip to Europe and a mission trip to Cuba were taking place at the same time.
“They were both going to cost the same amount of money, so I thought I could go see Europe and have a good time, or I could go help people who don’t have that opportunity to see different places. I decided it was better to help people.”
Melissa plans to attend Bible college in Maui, which will include three months of Bible study followed by three months of service in a developing country.
The Junior Citizen Awards will be presented at Government House in Regina on June 26.