Daniel Berlin of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Angelica Harris of Harvey, La., were named recipients of the 2016 USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award, the United States Golf Association and American Junior Golf Association announced Monday.
The USGA-AJGA Presidents' Leadership Award was created to recognize one male and one female junior golfer who demonstrate leadership, character and community service through their involvement with the Leadership Links program – part of a larger joint initiative created by the USGA and AJGA in 2005 to further develop junior golfers through volunteerism.
“Receiving the USGA-AJGA President’s Leadership award is a great privilege,” Berlin said. “It makes me appreciate that my involvement with volunteerism is valued by those outside my own neighborhood.”
Berlin, 17, and Harris, 18, will be honored on June 28 in Greensboro, Ga., during the Rolex Tournament of Champions. Additionally, they will each receive tickets to a future U.S. Open and an automatic entry into the 2016 Rolex Tournament of Champions, one of the world’s most prestigious junior golf events.
“I am so honored to be named a recipient of the USGA-AJGA Presidents’ Leadership Award,” Harris said. “Working with individuals with autism at Chartwell Center for the past year has been rewarding. I love doing this service and learning more about the developmental disorder, autism.”
About Daniel Berlin
When Daniel Berlin was seven, his cousin Anna was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. From that moment, Berlin knew he wanted to do something to help those who suffer from mental illness.
“Through the game of golf, I discovered an avenue to help kids like Anna,” Berlin said. “In the summer of 2013, I volunteered to help at a golf outing for a local organization, the Suicide Prevention Education Alliance, now LifeAct.”
LifeAct is an organization dedicated to raising awareness for the warning signs of anxiety, depression and suicide. Berlin quickly became more involved in the organization and for the last three years has served on their youth advisory board, eventually serving as president. Through LifeAct Berlin helped guide many of his peers to raise awareness for helping those who are impacted by mental illness.
Berlin also became involved with the AJGA’s Leadership Links program, using the framework to organize his own fundraising campaign for LifeAct. Through this effort, he has raised more than $4,000 in the last two years.
In addition to his fundraising efforts, Berlin has volunteered more than 360 hours with LifeAct, 60 hours with the Cleveland Clinic ALS Research Program and 30 hours with his local Key Club. Balance has been important, as he has maintained a 4.6 GPA, scored a perfect 36 on the ACT and become a successful pianist, going so far as playing at Carnegie Hall.
“I was initially intimidated by juggling community outreach with academic, athletic and other extracurricular commitments,” Berlin said. “Now I appreciate the organization, networking and long-term planning that volunteerism has rewarded me in return.”
Berlin hopes to continue to impact those around him through fundraising as he enters his senior year of high school and beyond to college. He encourages others to find their motivation and passion and use it to help others.
“Through charitable involvement, I have connected with people of all ages who share a passion for giving,” Berlin said. “Knowing how much my cause means to me, I am more motivated to donate my hard-earned money and time to others who ask for support.”
About Angelica Harris
Angelica Harris saw a need to brighten the lives of others through the game of golf. She started Angelica’s Angels and partnered with the Chartwell Center, a school for people with autism, to create a program which teaches the students golf, healthy eating habits and valuable life lessons about sportsmanship and confidence.
“It makes me feel really good when I help change a person’s life. I don’t mind putting long hours into volunteering because I can see the impact that it makes,” Harris said. “My work helping children with autism learn to play golf ended up leading to significant improvements in their motor skills and is very rewarding.”
Through her fundraising efforts, Harris has raised more than $1,400 for her golf program. She has also expanded the program to a local child care center for low income families and hopes to expand to other special needs schools in the future.
In addition to working with Angelica’s Angels, she is also involved with many other organizations, including, Second Harvest Food Bank, The First Tee of Greater New Orleans, the Breast Cancer Center, ALS Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House Charity. Over the last several years, she has volunteered more than 880 hours.
“Since I volunteer at a school for individuals with autism, I have learned a lot about the mental disorder, and through service, I have learned leadership and teamwork skills in order to help people achieve their goals,” Harris said.
Harris will play college golf at Washington University in St. Louis in the fall, but her vision for the programs she is involved with is for them to continue to grow while she is in college. She believes others should get involved in charity work because of how it has impacted her life.
“My advice to anyone looking to get involved with a charity is to find a cause that you are passionate about and look for ways you can directly make a difference,” Harris said. “It takes a lot of commitment, but I think, at the end of the day, it is all worth it.”