Bentonville, AR – October 23, 2018…Mayor McCaslin is pleased to announce the 2018 third quarter winners of the Mayor’s Outstanding Citizen Award are: Ridhikaanth (Ridhik) Kalaiselvan and Kids Who Care Service Club Moms.
Ridhikaanth (Ridhik) Kalaiselvan was nominated by Maolina Yang. Ridhik, is a senior at Bentonville High School (BHS) and at the time his nomination form was submitted, he currently ranked first in his class of 681 students. According to Ms. Yang, his high school counselor of 3 years, Ridhik is currently enrolled in the most rigorous Advanced Placement courses available at Bentonville High School, but Ridhik still finds time to volunteer in his community in addition to his rigorous class load. During the summer of 2017, Ridhik was nominated and attended the National Student Leadership Conference for Psychology and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School. He has expressed an interest in pursuing post-graduate school with a specialization in Cardiology. Ms. Yang says it is uncommon among students with whom she has worked with to be able to express a clear vision of his/her long term career goals that expand well beyond 10 or more years. Ridhik volunteered 81 hours at Northwest Medical Center during the summer. Sarah Herford, Teen Services Librarian wrote in her letter of support for Ridhik that he has been a committed teen volunteer since May 2015, providing over 243 hours of volunteer service to the library and he is also serves on the Library’s Teen Advisory Board. He has proven to have great flexibility with numerous daily tasks that help run the Youth Services department at the library. He assists by efficiently shelving books, cleaning the department, and assists children’s staff with storytime setup and cleanup. Other civic organizations benefitting from Ridhik’s giving back is Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and Northwest Arkansas Food Bank.
Sandy Clark nominated the Moms of the Kids Who Care Service Club for the Outstanding Citizen Award. Sandy wrote applauding Mardee Clive, Tara Fleming and Kori Hatch for the leadership they are providing to fourteen children that are members of the three families to give back to their community. The club began in 2013, as a way to teach their children to love serving and to be confident in their own ability to make a difference, big or small. These three families were brought together through their faith, close proximity and desire to teach their children the meaning of service to others. The mom’s common goal is to enable their children to see opportunities to serve and find fulfillment in helping others. Ms. Clark wrote that these magnificent mothers are helping their children make a difference in the lives of many, especially other children. They started by planning small service projects each month such as working in an animal shelter or going to a Senior Center with Halloween costumes for a parade and craft. With the help of their Mom’s, each year, the children get together to plan one big event, such as a backyard carnival, or outdoor movie night. They invite neighborhood children to help provide the games, serve the food, and prepare signs and decorations. The children who attend are also encouraged to bring their own money for tickets. Each annual event has at least 60 neighborhood volunteers. At the entrance to each carnival, there is a booth called “Awareness Alley” which provides ways for attendees to understand the initiative the event is supporting. The carnivals have benefitted several initiatives. One of the past recipients was the Children’s Shelter birthday drive, where carnival attendees brought presents, party supplies or money and the Shelter makes sure that every child having a birthday while at the Shelter has a celebration. Additionally, a brailler was provided for a young boy in the area with a degenerative eye disease that was going blind, and the piece of equipment was too expensive for his parents to purchase. The carnival provided enough funds to purchase the brailler, as well as provided additional money to cover travel expenses to Nashville to see the child’s specialist. Other beneficiaries included The Down Syndrome Foundation and Bright Futures Bentonville, who received funds to purchase laundry detergent, toilet paper and lice kits as well as a monetary contribution.
The Outstanding Citizen Award program was initiated in January 2011 to recognize the exceptional volunteer contributions of Bentonville residents. There were three award categories: adult, youth and community group. This will be the final recognition to take place since Mayor McCaslin is in his final term of office.