Warren, A high achiever | Sunday Observer

Warren, A high achiever

3 September, 2023

In a rare feat of achievement Warren Sanuhath Pinnawalage (10), a boy of Sri Lankan origin living in the USA has won the much coveted President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award 2022. 

He received the award from the Mayor of his hometown, North Bergen, New Jersey, Nicholas Sacco.

US President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award 2022

Mayor Sacco posted thus on social media: “Congratulations to North Bergen student Warren Sanuhath Pinnawalage for receiving the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award. I met Warren and his family on his 10th birthday to thank him for the many hours of service devoted to our community”.

Seventy-two hours of community service is required to qualify for the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award. So devoted was Warren to community service that he did seventy-nine hours of community service.

US President Joe R. Biden in a letter addressed to Warren, to mark the awards stated, ”The American story does not depend on any one of us, not on some of us, but on all of us. I congratulate you on taking it upon yourself to contribute to the public good and I’m proud to present you with the President’s Gold Volunteer Service Award in recognition of your 79 hours of service for the good of this great nation.

Warren with his little cousin, Skyla Pravari Subawickrama

Throughout our country’s history, the American story has been strengthened by those who combine an optimism of what can be with the resilience to turn that vision into reality. I know that I am not alone in recognising that those who are willing to step up and volunteer in service of community and country are essential to the ongoing work forming our more perfect union.

By sharing your time and passion you are helping discover and deliver solutions to the challenges we face – solutions that we now need more than ever. We are living in a moment that calls for hope and light and love. Hope for our futures, light to see our way forward and love for one another. Through your service you are providing all three.

On behalf of the American people, I extend my heartfelt appreciation for your volunteer leadership and I encourage you to continue to answer the call to service. The country is counting on you”.

It was during the Covid-19 pandemic that Warren stepped forward to aid the community. Warren along with some others cooked and distributed food to people in homeless shelters numbering around a thousand. Pasta was one food item they cooked and they also complied with specific requests for food. In addition, along with mother, Dr. Sugandika Subawickrema, Warren organised a series of mental health programs. While Dr. Sugandika dealt with the mental issues of adults, Warren dealt with the children. He advised the children on how to deal with problems like bullying.

Where the subject of bullying was concerned Warren drew on his own experience with bullying and the advice his mother gave him.

Warren taught the children ‘Box Breathing' and spoke to them about coping mechanisms such as gardening, rearing pets and keeping a journal. Both mother and son were deeply touched by the responses they received from the participants. Warren Sanuhath Pinnawalage, also known by his pet name Sanu was born in New York on June 16, 2013. He lived and schooled there for a while. Then, the family moved to North Bergen, New Jersey where Warren now attends the STEAM School. STEAM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths. Only twenty students are admitted to this school after a highly competitive exam.

Warren with his parents, Dr. Sugandika Subawickrema and Dr. Ron Pinnawalage

Warren is currently in Grade 4 and loves maths. The school’s curriculum is geared to helping students in their quest to enter prestigious colleges such as the Ivy League universities and top institutions such as NASA. It is also a project based curriculum ideal for Warren who loves to explore and experiment pushing the frontiers of knowledge and experience.


Warren is no stranger to the limelight. He came to the public eye as a toddler of four when he did a power point presentation on Ranga Tharanga an event organised by some Sri Lankans domiciled in the USA.

TEDx conference

Warren made a landmark appearance at the prestigious, world renowned TEDx - Ted Talk Conference platform and he focused on bullying and remedial measures. This platform has thirty eight million subscribers worldwide.

Environmental conscious

Warren is very environmentally conscious and with his parents tries to lessen the adverse impacts on the environment in their own way. The parents are involved in organic farming in addition to their regular professions. Warren does his bit to help them by doing tasks such as watering and weeding.

His father, Dr. Ron Pinnawalage, a Civil Engineer and Warren developed a small scale model of a hydrogen-powered car which won second place in a competition organised by the cub scouts.

Warren is very concerned about the environmental damage caused by vehicle emissions. He feels substitute sources of power such as hydrogen, hydro and electricity is the need of the hour.

Keen sportsman

A keen sportsman, Warren is good in swimming and has won two awards for backstroke. Soccer, basketball, T-ball and tennis are some of the sports this versatile boy indulges in.

Warren also studied Ballet, Tap Dancing and Acrobatics at one stage. He was the only boy among 22 girls and he gave up as the girls gossiped all the time.

Animal lover

A great animal lover, Warren has many pets. A dog named Ace, a turtle, two frogs, two hamsters and a guinea pig form Warren’s collection of pets.

Deeply concerned about others and even animals, Warren doesn't like to see man or an animal in distress. This time in Sri Lanka he was taken by his parents to see the Bellanwila Perehera. There, two elephants had become restless and had got their trunks entwined. To control them the mahouts had pricked the feet with goads. This upset Warren so much.

Warren doesn't like the concepts of Zoos, where animals are caged or fenced. He approves of eco-zooes where animals can be kept in a natural habitat familiar to them.

Warren, a typical pre-teen of times, enjoys hanging out with friends, Shela, Adriana, Clarisa and Fabiola.

A strong, positive influence in Warren’s life is his maternal grandmother, Jenet Subawickrama. At 83-years she is a real go-getter who recently even won a race.

Warren looks forward to holidays in Sri Lanka as he enjoys being with his little cousin Skyla Pravari Subawickrama.

Warren loves the natural beauty of Sri Lanka, and Sri Lankan hospitality.

Warren was featured several times in the local electronic media and on Punchi Panchi, Lakhanda’s Sinharawaya, Charana TV and Rupavahini’s Shanida Ayubowan.

Warren’s programs on Lakhanda’s Sinharawaya and Rupavahini’s Shanida Ayubowan programs had half a million viewers watching them over a short period of two days.

Warren’s ambition is to become an IT Engineer in a reputed company.


Nira Diaz and Mihi Deegodage Pix: Dushmantha Mayadunne

Warren receiving his award from the Mayor of his hometown, North Bergen, New Jersey, Nicholas Sacco