Ben Havardi, a sophomore student at the Ort Kiryat Bialik high school is the youngest winner to ever receive the President's Award for the Volunteer which is handed out by President Shimon Peres
to organizations and individuals who have contributed to Israeli society in an extraordinary way.
Havardi might be the youngest recipient, but he does have quite a spectacular resume. He began volunteering when he was in the third grade and since then, volunteer work has become an inseparable part of his life.
"Volunteering is good for me," Havardi said on Wednesday. "Seeing the smile on the face of a child with special needs or hearing him say thank you and getting a handshake is a feeling you can't really describe."
Havardi, a major Beatles fan customarily quotes one of the group's songs which he believes reflects his world view: "And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give.
He first started volunteering with special needs children and children with autism. He accompanied them for years, even when he was in middle school. He's still in touch with some of them.
In addition, every Friday night and on the eve of the Jewish holidays he hands out food to the needy within the framework of community volunteer work projects.
He also visits nursing homes where he sits and talks to the residents, that is, when he is not at the Kassler House, a home for the disabled where he shares various activities with the residents. And if that is not enough, he also shares social activities at clubs for children from disadvantaged families.
Ben also served as the chairman of the Kiryat Bialik branch of Zionist Council youth organization "Zameret" last year and completed a leadership course and this year he serves as a counselor.
Yet in spite of all his contributions the humble teen was surprised to receive the announcement about the award. He noted that in contrast to claims alleging that teens are indifferent; actually, the majority of students are active volunteers and contribute to their communities.