Sixteen-year-old Jordan Costley has been involved and actively engaged in her community practically since birth.
Costley, a junior at Westminster High School, said she’s been part of the NAACP from a very young age, and became a lifetime member somewhere around eighth grade.
That drive to be involved is one that comes naturally — it’s in her blood.
“My mom. I love her. She’s a lot of the reason I’m involved because she made sure I was involved with everything,” she said. “She always pushes me to be my best and make sure I’m well-rounded to get where I need to be in the long run.”
On Oct. 17, Costley will be honored in the youth category at the Community Foundation of Carroll County's 13th annual Philanthropists of the Year awards. Nonprofit (Lynn Wheeler/Carroll County Public Library), individual (Harold Robertson), legacy (Howard Koontz) and business (Integral Components) award winners will also be recognized at the event.
Costley will be honored for her work as a youth representative at her church, Strawbridge United Methodist Church in New Windsor. In this role, Costley has worked to raise money to help the youth members of the church go on a mission trip to Kansas City, where they will learn more about God and their journey with him, she said.
“It’s just a great opportunity and I’m really thankful that I get to help in part to get that started,” she said.
The fundraising Costley does also helps to put money in an account for the youth of the church to go to the ROCK Retreat in Ocean City.
The event, according to its website, is “a powerful and fun-filled weekend in Ocean City, MD. The event allows youth and adults to take a step back from their busy lives and learn about the amazing love of Jesus Christ.”
“What I'm trying to do is dispel the notion that philanthropy is for rich people. Philanthropy is the guy that mowed the lawn of the farm Museum for 30 years with no compensation,” Audrey Cimino, the executive director of the Community Foundation, said. “That's philanthropy. Or the people that volunteer their time week after week after week and don't even think about it. They just do it. And that's what makes this community so extraordinary.”
Carroll is a great place to be if you have a problem, she said, because someone is there to help. Not just the nonprofits, but also the social agencies and the community.
They always come forward to help others, she said.
“That's the point of Philanthropist of the Year,” Cimino said. “Even the youth have a body of work, have a body of things that they've done. Probably learned at their parents' knee. When you bring your child to volunteer someplace, that's a lesson they learn and they never forget it.”
For Costley, it’s not just the NAACP or her church.
In school, in addition to activities like choir and drama, she’s involved in helping others.
Costley is the president of the Stand Up Club at Westminster High School, which she said is an organization against bullying, and acts as a safe environment for anyone who wants to be there. The group works to put on Unity Day each year, as well as a culture festival.
“Everyone from the entire school comes together and we just try to motivate our students in Westminster High School to be the best them that they can be,” she said.
This year, the Unite Day theme is “Be the Light,” and it’s important to really be the light in everything you do, Costley said.
“We just want every student to feel like they’re important,” she said.
Costley also helped to form the school’s first Minority Student Union, and said while she mostly worked to make sure enough people were in the group and helped to get the paperwork in, it felt great to be a part of something the school has never had before.
Patricia Mack-Preston, who nominated Costley, said she is her cousin, has known her since she was born and has seen the work Costley has done to help others.
Between her church work and her activities in school, Mack-Preston said Costley is “very caring about all people.”
“I admire that about her,” she said.
Costley’s vision is to bring the community together, and help people find common bonds, Mack-Preston said.
“She’s just very passionate,” she said.
For Costley, winning the youth Philanthropist of the Year award has been humbling, and said she was so thankful for the opportunity to be recognized.
“It was just very cool to feel like what you’re doing is being rewarded,” she said, adding though that that isn’t what giving back is about.
While she’s still got two years at Westminster High School, Costley said her goal is to head to University of Maryland Baltimore County for either social work or therapy.
In school, she’s a peer facilitator, and hopes to continue to help others work to improve themselves, Costley said.
And, she wants to continue to be involved in the community.
“You never know where it can take you in life,” Costley said.