Idaho's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 19th Annual National Awards Program
Lewiston and Blackfoot students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Blackfoot and Post Falls
BOISE, Idaho--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Cameron Kirk, 17, of Lewiston and John Mangum, 14, of Blackfoot today were named Idaho'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. Cameron was nominated by Lewiston High School in Lewiston, and John was nominated by Snake River Junior High School in Blackfoot. 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).
“It is very gratifying to see an animal go to a good caring home”
Cameron, a senior at Lewiston High School, coaches Special Olympics athletes and, as public relations director for his local Special Olympics program, organizes fundraisers that have raised more than $64,000 over the past five years so that athletes can travel to and compete in sporting events free of charge. Six years ago, Cameron stepped in to substitute for his brother in a Special Olympics volunteer project. Little did Cameron know how much this chance encounter would change his life. “As soon as my time was up for the project, I knew I didn’t want to leave,” said Cameron. “The athletes had touched my life and I knew this was for me.”
He began by coaching athletes, but after a year, he wanted to do more. The opportunity to expand his involvement came when he was asked to be part of the management team for Lewis Clark Special Olympics. Now, Cameron typically spends six hours a week coaching and as many as 30 hours recruiting volunteers, seeking sponsorships from local businesses, and organizing fundraisers such as cookie dough and chocolate sales, auctions, car washes and a classic car show. The money raised from these endeavors covers equipment, travel and other costs of fielding a Special Olympics team. Cameron says he has been constantly inspired by “the spirit of the athletes, their uniqueness, and their endless smiles. They inspire me to be a better person and continually make me want to come back.”
John, an eighth-grader at Snake River Junior High School, volunteers at a local animal shelter and created a Facebook page to promote pet adoptions, which resulted in a sharp decline in the number of dogs and cats euthanized at the facility. It all started when John and his brother wanted a dog of their own. His parents, avid community volunteers, wanted the boys to know just how much work a dog requires, so they made arrangements for them to work at a local animal shelter.
John and his brother cleaned up after the animals, and groomed and socialized them. Then they came up with the idea of posting pictures of the pets on a Facebook page they created, “so the public could see that the dogs were friendly and adoptable,” said John. After a couple of weeks of work, the boys found a dog they wanted to adopt, but they wanted to continue helping out at the shelter. Months later, they were astonished to learn that in 2012, the shelter had to euthanize 800 dogs and cats -- but after the launch of their Facebook page, only 35 animals met that fate. Since then, John and his brother have assisted with an Adopt-a-Pet Day, and organized a dog and cat food drive at a local grocery store. They are now directing their efforts toward raising money to build a new and larger shelter to house stray animals. “It is very gratifying to see an animal go to a good caring home,” said John.
As State Honorees, Cameron and John 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 two other Idaho students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Idaho's Distinguished Finalists for 2014:
Tracen Mangum, 11, of Blackfoot, Idaho, a sixth-grader at Snake River Middle School, worked with his brother to create a Facebook page to share photos of the Blackfoot Animal Shelter’s adoptable dogs and cats – and learned later that, after launching the page, euthanizations at the shelter had dropped significantly. In addition to co-creating the “Braden & Tracen Project Save a Pet” page, Tracen helped the shelter by pitching in to groom, exercise and clean up after the animals.
Hope Newman, 15, of Post Falls, Idaho, a freshman at Post Falls High School, has made and donated more than 150 blankets for people in need through “Blankets of Hope,” a project she started in 2011. Hope, who secured $500 in cash and material donations from members of her church, donates the blankets to children and adults at the local hospital and through community organizations that help people in need.
“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