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State Honoree

Matthew Pangrac


Matthew Pangrac, 13, of Appleseed School in Decatur, Illinois, coordinates monthly visits and performances at a local nursing home that were once led by his local 4-H group. "By last year, 4- H participation was so low that the nursing home was going to cut the visiting program," said Matt. "I remembered how much the seniors like to talk to and visit with the kids, so I volunteered to be a junior leader and took responsibility for organizing visits and encouraging people to come." During the year, the themes of Matt's visits have been: My Family Tree; Small Pet Day; You Are Loved; Picture This; and Outside In. Matt promotes his visits through his school newsletter to encourage more participation, and leads meetings with participants to discuss overcoming fears of visiting with the sick and elderly, and ways to improve the program. "I learned that if you can't communicate with words, you can say a lot with a touch and a smile," Matt said.