Plainville students awarded community service scholarships

June 6, 2016
 By Ashley Kus The Plainville Citizen

PLAINVILLE-The Petit Family Foundation honored high school seniors from Plainville and Cheshire for their service to the community ranging from soup kitchens and hospital help, to animal donations.

“We thought there was this big hole where people who do things for other people aren’t recognized and so we thought it was a nice thing to recognize,” Dr. William Petit said.

The scholarship program called ‘Be the Change’ was created in 2008 to honor the activism of the Petit women, Jennifer, Hayley and Michaela, who were killed in a 2007 home invasion. The awards, first and second place, are given to students pursuing a four-year or two-year university. It wasn’t just about giving back however, as the winners were also passionate about their causes.

“You did because it’s something you believed in and something you enjoyed,” said Petit.

The students and their families were awarded the scholarships at Le Petit Studio on Whiting Street, Thursday, June 2. Each senior spoke to the audience about their individual service and their donation to the charity of their choice.

Brianna Lagassey explained how she would be donating to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and had spent time working at the soup kitchen in New Britain during her time in the Interact Club. In the fall she is attending the University of Rhode Island.

Her classmate Lauren Lederman talked about her experience volunteering at the Hospital for Special Care.

“I talked to patients, it was either about why they were there or even just about the weather and simple small talk,” Lederman said, “It was just nice to have a conversation with them on more of a personal level.”

Lederman will be talking her connection with patients to school with her in the fall when she attends Quinnipiac University to become a physician assistant.

PHS senior Emily Bienasz is also taking the physician route when she attends Springfield College in the fall. Biensasz lent a hand at Hartford Hospital as part of her community service and donated to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.

Another soon-to-be graduate of PHS, Kristina Petit decided to give back to some four-legged friends by collecting pet donations.

“It was nice to see how many people cared,” she said.

Cheshire senior Cara Walsh, from Sacred Heart Academy in Hamden, gave her service to an organization that she personally knew very well. Cheshire Lights of Hope started in 2005 by Walsh’s family and benefits the entire Cheshire community as well as the Petit Family Foundation. Once a year, Cheshire residents light a candle in a paper bag to illuminate the town.

Walsh received the foundation’s first place scholarship for Cheshire, while Lederman and Legassey tied first for Plainville. Bienasz and Petit tied second.

For more information on the program visit: