ESA Youth Scholarships Foster Industry Connection to First Responders

ESA, along with affiliated state associations, supports the industry’s relationship with first responders through its youth scholarship program.

Megan O’Grady with her father, Patrick O’Grady, who is a sergeant with the Cape Coral (Fla.) Police Department.

Alarm response is the bite behind the bark of any alarm system. Without police, firefighters and paramedics to provide vital services in response to an alert, the systems would have far less meaning to residents and businesses. Thus, the relationship between the electronic security and life-safety industry is important for the industry to maintain through positive interactions and mutual understanding. A strong relationship between alarm companies, monitoring centers and first responders will result in a better experience for the businesses involved and an increased sense of safety for the customers and the public.

In recognition of the vital services these heroes provide which make our industry’s work possible, ESA Gives Back, the Electronic Security Association’s philanthropic arm, has provided scholarships to the sons and daughters of first responders for over two decades. The ESA Youth Scholarship Program has awarded over $733,750 to bright young students each year whose parents protect and serve our communities across the nation.

This year’s first place overall national finalist, Megan O’Grady, was inspired by her father to give back to society and even create new ways to serve her community. Her father, Patrick O’Grady, is a sergeant in the Cape Coral (Fla.) Police Department.

Megan was inspired by the challenges her father has faced as a police officer in such a polarized environment for law enforcement in recent years — so she started a nonprofit called Blueline Bears in 2017.

Through the organization, Megan makes teddy bears out of the uniforms of fallen officers and sends the comforting companion to the officers’ families. As of July 2020, she has made more than 700 bears for families around the world, including 40 U.S. states, Afghanistan, England and Canada.

This year’s second place overall national finalist, Abigail Richardson, has shown a commitment to promoting literacy, community involvement and academic rigor. Her father, Robert Richardson, is a police officer in the Cleveland University Hospital’s precinct. Abigail has demonstrated passion for helping marginalized communities through initiatives like the sustainable borrowing library for refugees she created with a local nonprofit. In the fall, Abigail plans to begin her medical education with the goal of becoming a surgeon for underserved Native American populations in South Dakota.

These winners exemplify the outstanding families that are serving communities across our country. ESA happily partners with local associations to provide additional awards in each state.

The following are all first-place winners from the 14 participating states where local associations participate in the ESA Youth Scholarship program:

  • David Vojtaskovic of California
  • Michael Amella of Colorado
  • Jordyn Hunt of Connecticut
  • Megan O’Grady of Florida
  • Lauren Bailey of Georgia
  • Holly Picket of Indiana
  • Whitney Dawson of Kentucky
  • Lily Larsen of Nevada (Clark County)
  • Avery Snyder of New York
  • Savannah Pless of North Carolina
  • Abigail Richardson of Ohio
  • Rebekah Seamans of Pennsylvania
  • Jonathan Schade of Washington
  • Hannah Wenzel of Wisconsin

The national finalists are selected from these first-place winners. ESA hopes that through these awards, we can highlight the importance of the work first responders do and how highly the industry values the relationship we have with these families across the nation.

For more information about the ESA Youth Scholarship Program, go here.

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