WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--North Carolina's top two youth volunteers of 2016, Karigan McCurry, 18, of Gastonia and Abbigail Adler, 14, of Greenville, 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. Karigan and Abbigail – 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 Karigan and Abbigail North Carolina'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.
Karigan, a senior at Hunter Huss High School, started volunteering for a youth suicide prevention organization after a close friend took her own life, and then branched out into numerous other service activities that benefit her community. “I will never forget the night I got the call that my best friend had committed suicide,” said Karigan. “I was in shock and disbelief at first. I even called her phone to see if she would answer. I was just hoping it wasn’t true.” When the shock wore off, Karigan was left to deal with guilt. She and her friend had gone to separate high schools and drifted apart. Maybe, Karigan thought, she could have done something to help, if only she had known.
Turning to the internet for answers and consolation, Karigan discovered The Jason Foundation and decided she wanted to support its mission of educating people about youth suicide and making desperate teens understand that suicide is not their only option. She started a small support group at school, and then visited middle and high schools to educate staff and students with a PowerPoint presentation and printed literature. Karigan also has helped raise funds for The Jason Foundation at events such as an annual golf tournament. Her work with the foundation has motivated Karigan to seek out other volunteer opportunities in her area. For example, she has assisted an animal rescue agency with pet adoptions, collected leashes for an animal spay/neuter clinic, sold shirts to help find missing schoolgirls in Africa, and raised money for autism awareness. “These things make my heart happy!” said Karigan.
Abbigail, a member of the Girl Scouts North Carolina Coastal Pines and an eighth-grader at The Oakwood School, launched an online business selling jewelry and personalized items to raise money for organizations that work to end violence in the Middle East. In school, Abbigail learned about the Middle East and clashes between cultures and religions in that volatile part of the world. “This violence does nothing but kill innocent people and worsen relationships between different cultures,” she said. “I want to do something to change that.”
As someone who loves art, Abbigail saw an opportunity to use her artistic skills and creativity to promote peace in the Middle East. She used her own savings and some donations to start her business, then began creating beautiful and useful products, built a website to sell them (www.artsforisrael.org), and designed a logo and business cards. Abbigail spends at least five hours a week making her artistic creations, filling orders and updating and marketing her online store. At the end of each month, she donates her profits – more than $650 so far – to organizations that, according to her research, “come together to stop the devastation and violence on a large scale, and promote peace in our world today.”
“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 North Carolina's honorees at the 2016 national recognition events, contact Prudential’s Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.