WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Michigan's top two youth volunteers of 2016, Dale (Trip) Apley, 16, of Ann Arbor and Aubrey Cohoon, 12, of Spring Lake, were honored in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 21st annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Trip and Aubrey – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Trip and Aubrey Michigan's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Trip, a junior at Skyline High School, spearheaded an all-school fundraising drive in October 2015 to provide 18,000 bottles of water to children in Flint after the state first announced the city’s water was contaminated with dangerous levels of lead. For more than five years, Trip has been involved in monitoring the water quality of streams and rivers in his area, efforts that have earned him an appointment to the youth council of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. “Water quality monitoring and revitalization of watersheds is my passion,” said Trip. That’s why he knew he had to do something when he learned that an entire community had water that was unsafe to drink. “To me this was a serious situation,” said Trip. “Flint is an economically disadvantaged area, and is the last community that can afford to switch to bottled water.”
Trip contacted the United Way and the Flint School District to determine the best way to proceed. He then asked his principal for permission to raise money at school. With the support of his school principal, family and friends, he was able to donate over $2,800 to buy bottled water for schoolchildren in Flint. Trip said he recognizes that his donation of water will not cure what ails the city’s water supply, and he intends to work toward a long-term solution. “In the near future, through public and private means, I intend to be part of the solution to revitalize water systems in economically disadvantaged areas like Flint,” he said.
Aubrey, a sixth-grader at Spring Lake Intermediate School, has helped grant wishes to three sick children and their families over the past two years by raising more than $30,000 for Make-A-Wish Michigan. Aubrey got involved with giving to others after she received so many gifts on her 7th birthday that she felt “overwhelmed.” For subsequent birthdays, Aubrey asked for donations to a designated local cause instead of presents she didn’t need. A few years later, she began researching the Make-A-Wish Foundation, met with its Michigan chapter, and decided she wanted to raise money exclusively for that organization.
Since then, Aubrey’s year-round efforts have gained her recognition as a prolific Make-A-Wish fund-raiser. She formed a team for the annual Walk for Wishes, ran in a 5K, bussed tables at a local restaurant in exchange for donations to Make-A-Wish, and sold bracelets at a car show and a neighborhood stand. She also arranged to hold activity nights and special dress-up days at her school to raise money, and recruited local businesses to help as well. “It makes me feel so good to do what I am doing,” said Aubrey. “So many people have been impacted, but most importantly, I do it for the wish kids.”
“By using their time and talents to better their communities, these young people have achieved great things – and become examples for us all,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “Congratulations to an exemplary group of honorees.”
“These students have demonstrated a truly remarkable level of leadership and commitment in the course of their volunteer service, and it’s an honor to celebrate their accomplishments,” said Michael Allison, president of NASSP. “We commend each and every one of them for a job well done.”
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2016 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 29,000 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 21 years, the program has honored more than 115,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. 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 pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW
For B-roll of Michigan's honorees at the 2016 national recognition events, contact Prudential’s Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or email@example.com.