Colorado's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 19th Annual National Awards Program
Longmont and Golden students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Aurora, Highlands Ranch, Greeley and Parker
DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Virginia "Ginny" Creager, 18, of Longmont and Eric Bear, 14, of Golden today were named Colorado's top two youth volunteers of 2014 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Ginny was nominated by Frederick Senior High School in Frederick, and Eric was nominated by YMCA of Metro Denver in Denver. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 19th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
“We applaud each of these young people for their exemplary volunteer service”
Ginny, a senior at Frederick Senior High School, works with several different organizations as a tutor, mentor and peer educator to empower young people, particularly girls, to succeed and reach their full potential. Ginny learned about empowerment from her mother, who struggled to support their family after Ginny’s father suffered a disabling stroke. “With five children under 13, my mother decided that rather than feeling sorry for ourselves, she redirected us to serving others,” said Ginny. “Unexpectedly, the more we helped others, the more empowered we became.”
By the time she was in first grade, Ginny was engaged in a variety of volunteer activities. When she was bullied in second grade, she got involved in anti-bullying programs, which sparked her interest in tutoring and mentoring other young people. “I feel that peer-led programs are the most powerful way to reach younger kids and truly effect change,” she said. After weeks of leadership training, Ginny became a certified mentor guide for Smart-Girl, a middle school mentoring organization, and a certified peer educator/counselor and victim abuse advocate for TERA (Teens Ending Relationship Abuse). She also is a vice president of Rachel’s Challenge, an anti-bullying group. As a member of the Girl’s Leadership Council of the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Ginny helped raise $20,000 to aid at-risk youth in Denver, and travels the state to promote female empowerment. She also created a quilting club to raise money for philanthropic causes through sewing and knitting projects.
Eric, a member of the YMCA of Metro Denver and an eighth-grader at Colorado Academy, collected soccer equipment for young refugees, volunteered at a food bank, educated others about the danger of radon gas and raised money for people in need. Eric loves sports, especially soccer. When he discovered how much it cost for his soccer team to get new equipment every season, he began collecting used soccer balls, cleats, shin guards and uniforms for African refugees in Denver who otherwise had to play barefoot. “Now they have the proper equipment to play the sport safely,” he said.
Shortly thereafter, Eric began volunteering at a local food bank. In weekly four-hour shifts, he filled orders for clients and carried food out to their vehicles. In 2010, Eric and his older sister launched an awareness campaign to educate the public about radon gas and the importance of home testing. They conducted a neighborhood survey to gauge awareness of radon, then lobbied city councils in their area to promote and regulate radon testing. They also took their message to the news media and disseminated information through a website and social media. As a member of his school’s student council, Eric also has organized fundraisers to assist flood victims in Colorado, and help pay the education expenses of girls in South Sudan and Peru.
As State Honorees, Ginny and Eric each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014.
The program judges also recognized four other Colorado students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Colorado's Distinguished Finalists for 2014:
Rohit Gupta, 17, of Aurora, Colo., a senior at Grandview High School, has tutored more than 200 students through a free tutoring program he founded called “RAW-Guidance.” He also developed seven free mobile applications to help students with math, chemistry and history, which have been downloaded by more than 14,000 people in 60 countries.
Navya Roy, 17, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., a junior at Rock Canyon High School, is a passionate community volunteer who has helped a number of organizations over the years. Most recently, Navya raised more than $3,200 to purchase basic medical and hygiene supplies for Anpunilayam, or the House of Love, a shelter for the poor and elderly in India.
Patrick Ryan, 17, of Greeley, Colo., a senior at Greeley Central High School, has raised nearly $4,000 since 2009 with the annual “Change War” that he started at his middle school and now hosts at his high school. Patrick has donated the funds to a shelter for abused women and leukemia research, and created a scholarship for graduating seniors based on their service to others.
Jennifer Steiner, 18, of Parker, Colo., a senior at Legend High School, founded “One Small Step,” a recycling program for which she personally collects and delivers items to a recycling facility. Jennifer, who was shocked to learn that her family was the only one in her neighborhood recycling, knocks on doors to sign people up for the program and coordinates all the logistics on behalf of her members.
“We applaud each of these young people for their exemplary volunteer service,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “They use their time and talents to make a meaningful difference in their communities, and we hope their example inspires others to do the same.”
“By going above and beyond in their volunteer service, these students have brought positive change to communities across the country,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “Congratulations to each and every one of them on this well-deserved honor.”
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. These Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On May 5, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 100,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India and China. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama.
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