WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sean Egan, 18, of Staten Island, N.Y., was named one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2014 today by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards during the program’s 19th annual national award ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Selected from a field of more than 30,000 youth volunteers from across the country, Sean has earned the title of National Honoree, along with a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for his school, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of his choice.
Also honored this week in Washington, D.C., was Haley Maier, 11, of Gasport. Haley and Sean were named New York's top youth volunteers in February, and were officially recognized last night at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History along with the top two youth volunteers in each other state and the District of Columbia. At that event, each of the 102 State Honorees for 2014 received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker. The honorees each also received engraved silver medallions and all-expense-paid trips with a parent to Washington, D.C., for this week’s recognition events.
Sean, a senior at Monsignor Farrell High School, founded an organization of more than 300 students who assist and thank veterans of the U.S. armed forces by sponsoring events, providing goods and services, and visiting military hospitals. After Sean’s father, a firefighter, died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City, Sean realized the nation had enemies and that service members were called upon to stop them. “They are the one group most responsible for protecting our way of life, and they deserve our thanks,” he said.
Two years ago, Sean organized a holiday visit with some fellow high school students to a VA hospital in Brooklyn. When he saw how much the wounded warriors there appreciated their company, he formed a group called “Hearing Our Heroes” at his school to support and celebrate veterans. Since then, the organization has grown to include more than 300 students at six schools. They have provided hundreds of books and games for the recreation room at the Brooklyn hospital and donated basic necessities to veterans who leave the hospital homeless. They also bring supplies and gifts to amputee veterans at Walter Reed Medical Center in Maryland every few months. The group has worked on hundreds of events for service members including lunches, barbecues, parades and sporting events for wounded veterans. After Hurricane Sandy, Sean’s organization helped veterans salvage their properties and rebuild their homes. Last summer, it raised money to send a military family to Disney World. “Hearing Our Heroes” members also do yard work for local vets, and assist with the upkeep at veterans cemeteries and monuments. “It is our duty to ensure that those who have served our nation and defended our precious freedom receive the appreciation and recognition they deserve,” said Sean.
Haley, a member of the Orelans County 4-H and a sixth-grader at Barker Middle School, has raised money for the Western New York Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association by making and selling crocheted necklaces in memory of her grandmother, who died from Alzheimer’s disease before Haley was born. Although she never knew her grandmother, Haley often listened to her older sisters talk about what a great grandma she was. “She had done so much for everyone that I wanted to do something on her behalf,” she said. Since her grandmother loved to crochet, and had been assisted in many ways by the Alzheimer’s Association after she became ill, Haley decided to crochet necklaces to support the association’s work.
After her mother taught her to crochet, Haley began spending evenings and weekends making necklaces and then sold them to friends, classmates, family members, teachers and others in her community. She also set up necklace displays at her pediatrician’s office and hair dresser’s salon, and demonstrated her crocheting technique at a county 4-H event. “It makes me happy to know that people like my grandma could benefit from what I do,” said Haley. “I wish I had known my grandma, but somehow I know she is watching over me.”
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a national youth recognition program sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
“These honorees are shining examples of what is possible when young people use their energy and initiative to help their communities,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “We are proud to recognize their accomplishments, and look forward to seeing the great things they achieve in the future.”
“Through their service, these students have not only made a difference in the lives of others – they’ve provided their peers with a powerful example of what it looks like to be an outstanding youth volunteer,” said Barbara-Jane (BJ) Paris, president of NASSP. “Congratulations to each of the 2014 honorees for a job well done.”
In addition to Sean, these are the other 2014 National Honorees:
Jessica Bird, 18, of Atherton, Calif., a senior at Sacred Heart Preparatory, is a dedicated advocate for young sex-trafficking victims around the world, and last year led a team to Costa Rica to provide girls at a safe house with the skills to build a life outside of prostitution.
Lillian Diuble, 11, of Manchester, Mich., a sixth-grader at Manchester Middle School, leads a team that has raised more than $78,000 over the past four years for the Foundation Fighting Blindness, which is devoted to developing treatments and cures for eye diseases like the one affecting Lillian.
Elijah Evans, 16, of Youngsville, La., a sophomore at Comeaux High School, works in his community to raise awareness of child abuse and improve the lives of foster children by promoting and hosting an annual Christmas party for children in foster care.
Kaylee Graham, 14, of Florence, Ore., an eighth-grader at Siuslaw Middle School, initiated an annual citywide day of service in her town that has motivated more than 3,000 residents to work on community improvement projects, raise money for charity, donate food, and take part in other volunteer activities over the past three years.
Morgan Guess, 11, of Paducah, Ky., a fifth-grader at Lone Oak Intermediate School, has worked with her mother to focus local, state and national attention on the problem of bullying through a variety of measures, after Morgan herself was bullied.
William Lourcey, 11, of Fort Worth, Texas, a volunteer ambassador with the Volunteer Center of North Texas and a fifth-grader at Trinity Valley School, is the founder and CEO of a service group that organizes fun events to raise money and awareness to fight hunger, and to encourage young people to get involved in their community.
Kinsey Morrison, 17, of Goshen, Ky., a senior at St. Francis High School, is a motivational speaker who’s delivered more than 50 speeches on a variety of topics and helped raise a significant amount of money for dozens of charities.
Katie Stagliano, 15, of Summerville, S.C., a freshman at Pinewood Preparatory School, established a nonprofit organization that has helped kids across the country create and maintain more than 60 vegetable gardens, which have yielded thousands of pounds of fresh produce to feed people in need.
Michael Stolzenberg, 14, of Weston, Fla., an eighth-grader at Pine Crest School, has raised more than $225,000 to help rebuild the lives of people who lost limbs when terrorists detonated two bombs during the 2013 Boston Marathon.
The distinguished selection committee that chose the National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld and included Paris of NASSP; Tracy Hoover, president of Points of Light; Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council; Andrea Bastiani Archibald, chief girl expert for Girl Scouts of the USA; James E. Starr, vice president for volunteer management for the American Red Cross; Robert Bisi, senior marketing specialist for the Corporation for National and Community Service; Dru Tomlin, director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education; André Wesson, senior program associate for strategic communications, outreach and development for Achieve; Reneé Jackson, senior manager of education programs at the National PTA; and two 2013 National Honorees: Emma Astrike-Davis of Durham, N.C., a senior at Cary Academy, and Joshua Williams of Miami Beach, Fla., an eighth-grader at Ransom Everglades School.
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2014 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. More than 30,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year’s program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 19 years, the program has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthens school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Association of Student Councils. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit www.news.prudential.com.
Editors: For full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW