Scout wins Jefferson Award for his project

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 22, 2002

As the youngest winner of a prestigious national award who spent part of last week rubbing elbows with senior lawmakers and several national celebrities, Suffolk’s Joe DiRenzo IV sees a bigger headline behind his experience at Capitol Hill.

Last week, DiRenzo, an Eagle Scout, was presented the National Jefferson Award by U.S. Senator George Allen in the Dirksen Senate Office Building. DiRenzo appeared in Washington from June 17-19, during which time he briefed Senator John McCain and other leaders on his Eagle Project. The three days in Washington involved receptions, workshops, tours, and the opportunity to exchange ideas with other national winners.

DiRenzo and the other winners were greeted by members of the American Institute for Public Board of Selectors. The Board is composed of a diverse cross-section of national policy makers, prominent community leaders and opinion makers such as Hank Aaron, George Ball, Julian Bond, Betty Friedan, Trent Lott, R. Emmett Tyrell Jr., Jack Valenti, and Michael Douglas.

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DiRenzo’s anonymous nomination for the award stems from a promotion by the local NBC-affiliate seeking youths who’ve made noteworthy contributions to the community. DiRenzo completed the application and to his surprise was notified of his selection.

&uot;I was very excited of course,&uot; said DiRenzo, &uot;especially when I heard the stories of the achievements of the other winners.&uot; DiRenzo added that despite being chosen as a recipient of the national award, he does not want to be the focus of publicity surrounding this &uot;once-in-a-lifetime&uot; opportunity, as he puts it.

DiRenzo prefers to raise the level of awareness surrounding his ongoing commitment to meet the educational supply needs of the 53 orphans at La Maison Fortune in Hinche, Haiti, and the plight of orphans in the western hemisphere’s poorest country. The Eagle Project works to raise funds to build a new orphanage for the children.

DiRenzo plans to speak in other arenas to bolster participation in the endeavors. DiRenzo also gives special recognition to Jean Louis LenFort, the director and founder of the Orphanage in Haiti. DiRenzo’s local Eagle Scout unit exchanges letters with the orphanage frequently with regard to the causes. Next summer, DiRenzo highly anticipates joining a group to personally deliver school supplies to Haiti.

And DiRenzo’s parents are understandably very proud of their son, and wish to focus attention on obtaining permanent homes for the orphans and delivering needed school supplies to Haiti. The elder DiRenzo said, &uot;We are obviously honored that Joe was chosen (for the award).&uot;

DiRenzo aspires to attend the Naval Academy and to work with nuclear submarines – all while continuing his outreach projects. On the home front, DiRenzo participates with Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s Varsity Swim and Track teams, and the Marching Saints, for which he plays trumpet.