ST. GEORGE — Just after graduating from Snow Canyon High School in May, EmRee Moody, 18, won the National Youth of the Year award by the National Exchange Club for an essay she wrote and submitted.
In the essay, Emree Moody opens with a quote from Mike Ditka: “If you’re not in the parade, you watch the parade. That’s life.” After developing her essay relating her own experiences in community service, she closes with a mission statement of her own:
I have chosen to be a part of this ‘service parade.’ I will not be content to stand on the sidelines. I plan to always make community service a part of my life. It doesn’t matter if we are the Grand Marshal or assigned to the clean up crew. What matters is just being in the parade. We are in the ‘parade’ when we give service locally. We are in the ‘parade’ when we touch even one life. We can draw others into the ‘parade’ by igniting that passion of service in them, and then we will all be changed for the better together.
EmRee Moody fell in love with community service as a freshman in high school when her older sister, Mikelle Moody, encouraged her to volunteer for the Washington County Youth Court. In addition to serving as the senior judge for the youth court, she became president of Snow Canyon High School’s Service Club, was an active member in the Washington County Youth Corps Club and earned the National Presidential Service award for having logged more than 200 hours of volunteer service within three years, starting in her freshman year.
“EmRee Moody had tried out for the soccer team in her freshman year and didn’t make it,” EmRee Moody’s mother, Dana Moody, said. “She was heartbroken. Her sister came to her and told her that there were a lot of good ways to make memories and share her time through volunteer work.”
Through EmRee Moody’s time serving as a senior judge for the youth court she spoke with dozens of youth and was impacted by each of them.
“In youth court you’re taught the difference between justice and mercy,” she said. “For this one boy we decided to give him another chance.”
The boy was given community service hours and ended up volunteering for a Habitat for Humanity project with EmRee Moody where they were helping a woman in need by sanding and then painting her mobile home.
“You could tell the boy was changed by this experience,” EmRee Moody said. “You could tell he was thinking, ‘I’m going to set a new course for myself.'”
In addition to her community service, Emree Moody also received varsity letters in cross-country, track and swimming – though her athletic career came to a halt just before her senior year.
She was elected as a student body officer and, following tradition, the outgoing officers came to her house to do an early morning kidnapping to take the newly elected officer to breakfast, Dana Moody said. While traveling, a car accident occurred and EmRee Moody’s right leg was broken.
“It was totally bent at a 90-degree angle of what it should have been,” Dana Moody said. “This is when her true character shined,” she said of her daughter.
“While she was in recovery she kept saying, ‘just think about how awful this would be for someone who is really good.’”
EmRee Moody’s quest for nationals began after being recognized by the St. George Exchange Club as the September 2013 Student of the Month for Snow Canyon High School. The Exchange Club honors six seniors each month, one from each of Snow Canyon, Dixie, Pine View, Desert Hills, Tuacahn and Millcreek high schools; and those students receive one full-year tuition each for Dixie State University.
Following this, EmRee Moody was named Student of the Year and then went on to win the Rocky Mountain District, which consists of 19 regions out of Utah, Colorado and Nevada.
EmRee Moody received a phone call from the national headquarters of the Exchange Club regarding her award on June 6 just moments before boarding an airplane to Peru with her family. She said she was shocked and never imagined that she would take nationals.
“We were all on the plane screaming,” Dana Moody said.
EmRee Moody travelled with her mother and grandmother, Willa Derrick, to New Orleans for the National Exchange Convention on July 12 to receive her reward and read her winning essay entitled, “Parading the Spirit of Community Service with Passion and Commitment,” which will also be published in the National Exchange Club magazine.
“EmRee is a person who very quietly goes about doing good things. She doesn’t do service for recognition,” Dana Moody said. “When she was going to the convention she didn’t say a word even to her closest friends.”
The National Exchange Club sponsored the whole trip and provided them with VIP services such as fresh chocolate-dipped strawberries delivered to their hotel room from the front desk manager.
“I felt so blessed to go to New Orleans and was so impressed to see how many other kids across America were helping their communities,” EmRee Moody said.
Before giving her prepared speech at the convention, EmRee Moody recognized the winner of the Accepting the Challenge of Excellence, awarded to an individual who has overcome extreme challenges. The winner, a girl from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, had overcome many obstacles such as losing her father and overcoming drug addiction. She was also missing part of one of her arms from the elbow down.
“EmRee turned to the girl and said, ‘I feel so inadequate to come up here after you. You’re an inspiration to me,'” Dana Moody said. “The crowd erupted into a standing ovation. Of all the things that happened that weekend, that is the thing I am the most proud of.”
EmRee Moody will attend Dixie State University in the fall and plans on majoring in public health so she can continue helping others in the community.
“She’s going to be somebody,” St. George Exchange Club President Shonie Christensen said. “She’s already affected so many kids.”
EmRee Moody’s winning essay: Parading the Spirit of Community Service with Passion and Commitment
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