District of Columbia's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 19th Annual National Awards Program
Washington, D.C. students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and invitation to national recognition events
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sydney Kamen, 17, and Maxine Bailey, 13, today were named the District of Columbia'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. Sydney was nominated by Georgetown Day School, and Maxine was nominated by Holy Trinity School. 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).
“Congratulations to each and every one of them on this well-deserved honor.”
Sydney, a junior at Georgetown Day School, is developing a nonprofit initiative that will encourage luxury hotels in Southeast Asia to donate discarded bars of soap for recycling and distribution to people living in poverty. Sydney has been active in community service through her school and synagogue for many years, and during that time has acquired a strong interest in health and poverty issues. She recently has been volunteering weekly with an organization that educates inner-city youth about the prevention of HIV and AIDS.
For the past two summers, Sydney also has traveled to Thailand, Laos and Myanmar to volunteer in remote villages and learn about the needs and concerns of the impoverished people living there. She discovered that a major problem is the lack of sanitation and the resulting ease with which diseases can spread. To address this issue, Sydney is working on what she calls her “SOAP (So Others Are Protected) Initiative.” It involves the collection of used, discarded soap from luxury hotels in Southeast Asia so that it can be cleaned, melted and reshaped into new bars of soap for people in villages and refugee camps who cannot afford it. It also involves the development of a volunteer network to teach villagers “how improved cleanliness can reduce illness and infections in places where water is not clean or safe,” said Sydney.
Maxine, an eighth-grader at Holy Trinity School, works with children at a local daycare facility and raises money for a variety of causes through a nonprofit organization that she set up with a friend. Maxine has participated in many projects to aid the homeless in her community through her school, parish and Girl Scout organization. In 2009, she wanted to branch out on her own, so Maxine and her best friend, with help from their parents, formed a nonprofit called the “Fox Buddies Club” to raise money for Red Cross projects.
In one of their most successful endeavors, Sydney and fellow volunteers raised more than $2,000 for Red Cross earthquake relief efforts in Haiti by throwing a five-course dinner party for donors. For the past couple of years, Maxine also has been volunteering at a Georgetown daycare center, where she teaches 4-year-olds basic reading, math and drawing skills. “It warms my heart to help people,” she said. “I know I am a part of the world and I am on the quest to improve it!”
As State Honorees, Sydney and Maxine each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an invitation to join the top two honorees from every state in the U.S. for four days of national recognition events in Washington, D.C. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014.
The program judges also recognized two other District of Columbia students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are the District of Columbia's Distinguished Finalists for 2014:
Janae Morgan, 18, a senior at Washington Mathematics Science Technology Public Charter High School, is actively involved in her community, volunteering with her church’s community service programs and as a local tutor. She also has honored our country’s soldiers as a member of the Montford Point Young Marines, for which she now serves as corporal and team leader.
Tania Perez, 17, a senior at Capital City Public Charter School, participates in a number of volunteer programs to benefit the Latino community, including serving as an assistant tennis coach for the Pancho Gonzalez Tennis Academy. Tania also helps the police department coordinate service projects and volunteers with the mayor’s office on the Hispanic Heritage Month Festival.
“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