On February 3, 2008, Joe Page was shot on a porch by uninvited guests to a Super Bowl party he was attending. He was flown to Fairfax Hospital and died four days later.
His mother, Debbie Page-Maples, said that her memories of seeing Joe’s friends standing in the hallway during his time in the hospital left an impression on her.
“After he died, I knew I had to do something to honor him, and all of these young people who had come into our lives,” Maples said.
That summer, she started The Joe 15 Team, a community service and charity organization that gathered members at Manassas Park Middle School Tuesday night to celebrate the newest of four awards: The 2011 Virginia Education Association’s Fritz Turner Award for Human Relations and Civil Rights.
The team, named after Joe and his favorite number 15, has a total of five branches at: Brentsville District High School, Stonewall Jackson High School, Stonewall Middle School, Manassas Park Middle School and Manassas Christian School.
“Your team exemplifies what’s best in you,” Bonnie Klakowicz, president of the Prince William Education Association’s board of directors, told students gathered at the middle school. “Being a member of this team has given you a very big advantage in the rest of your life.”
The ceremony was held for students who were unable to go to Roanoke earlier in the year to receive the award from the Virginia Education Association.
The teams work with several organizations in the community, including senior centers, Securing Emergency Resources through Volunteer Efforts (SERVE), the Red Cross and Prince William Juvenile Detention Center.
Joe 15 Team has won three other awards: The 2010 Agnes L. Colgan Award for Community Service from the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce, the 2009 Volunteer of the Year award from SERVE and the 2011 Governor’s Outstanding Community Organization Award.
“It’s been very surprising,” Maples said. “We do a lot of work. We got a lot of people involved, and I like to think that we help a lot of people.”
The team was started at Stonewall Jackson High School, where Page graduated.
“I knew Joe personally,” Stonewall junior Shilo Stewart said. “I joined knowing what the actual meaning of the team was.”
Since the organization began in 2008, Stewart has worked at SERVE with children and Wii bowled with residents of the Fairmont, an independent senior living community.
“We beat them, but we tried our best to help them,” Stewart said.
Manassas Park Middle School’s branch of Joe 15 Team had almost 60 members join since it was formed in October 2010, and is one of the largest organizations in the school, according to its sponsor, science, history and social studies teacher Mary Morgan.
“Students were more than enthusiastic,” Morgan said. “It surpassed my expectations.”
Morgan said they were looking to expand the organization to the high school level in the coming school year.
The team visits the Catton Merchant House monthly in Manassas, and has planted flowers, helped run bingo, made Valentine’s Day cards and sung Christmas carols, said 12 year-old Brendan Kelly, a team member.
The Joe 15 Team has a Adopt-a-Highway clean-up project on June 18 and its monthly meeting at Manassas Church of the Brethren on Nokesville Road. at 6 p.m.