DOWNEY - Two local high school students - one from Warren and the other from Downey - were recipients of the inaugural Downey Youth Service Award, a recognition honoring Downey children who give back to the community.The award is jointly sponsored by Downey Kiwanis Club and the Downey Patriot. Eric Siryj and Jose Zuniga received the awards at a recognition luncheon last Thursday at the Rio Hondo Event Center. Siryj just completed his junior year at Warren High School, where he maintained a 4.6 GPA and played on the volleyball team. Siryj has volunteered almost 200 hours at the Pharmacy Department at Downey Regional Medical Center and was recently accepted to Camp Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where he will work with severely handicapped children this summer. Siryj's passion to help others was spurred by the death of his grandfather, who passed away from Alzheimer's disease, said Siryj's parents, Margaret and Roman. Zuniga will be a senior at Downey High School this fall. He has a 3.8 GPA and is involved with the school's drama department. Zuniga has been an active volunteer instructor and junior manager at the Ultimate Karate Center in Downey for more than six years. He has studied martial arts since he was a young boy, but after many years of individual study became an assistant in the school's children's programs, helping children better themselves both physically and mentally. Zuniga earned his black belt at age 12 and soon began teaching his own classes. At 13, Zuniga began assisting with the school's management. "This young man went out of his way to spend endless hours with his students to make them successful," said Kelly Stratford, a Downey High School teacher and former karate instructor who nominated Zuniga. "It is rare to see such drive and compassion from one person, especially someone Jose's age." In addition to the awards, both students also received $100 gift cards to Stonewood Center. The Downey Youth Service Award is presented to students in grades K-11 who reside and attend school in Downey, and are active in community service. Recipients are chosen by a member of Downey Kiwanis Club and a staff member from the Downey Patriot. To nominate a student, contact Kiwanis Club member Fernando Vasquez at (562) 261-7601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.You can also write to The Downey Patriot, 8301 E. Florence Ave., Attention Eric Pierce, Suite 100, Downey, CA‚Äà90240.
********** Published: June 19, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 9