North Carolina's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 19th Annual National Awards Program
Raleigh and Chapel Hill students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Fayetteville, Davidson, Charlotte, Raleigh, Morehead City and Hildebran
RALEIGH, N.C.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Molly Paul, 15, of Raleigh and Leanne Joyce, 14, of Chapel Hill today were named North Carolina'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. Molly was nominated by Saint Mary's School in Raleigh, and Leanne was nominated by Grey Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill. 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).
“I plan to continue my nonprofit throughout my life”
Molly, a sophomore at Saint Mary’s School, operates an adoption agency for unwanted pet turtles, and also makes and sells soap products to support native turtles, their habitat and conservation education. In 2006, after Molly’s parents let her adopt two red-eared slider turtles as pets, she learned about the problem they posed. Because this species is the most popular pet turtle in the U.S., and because it can live for decades, many are eventually released by pet owners into the wild where they are considered a destructive invasive species because they outcompete native turtles. Molly developed a passion for these creatures, and resolved to help find new homes for pet turtles whose owners could no longer care for them.
Molly created Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption (RATA) and began taking in unwanted turtles, keeping them in an “aquatic lab” in her house and in a large backyard pond. She also set up a website both to solicit unwanted turtles and to find people willing to adopt them. Families from California to New York have taken advantage of Molly’s service. To further her turtle mission, Molly created a line of turtle-shaped soap, body scrubs and soaks, and has raised nearly $10,000 for turtle causes by selling them in gift shops across North Carolina. She also organized a science and math leadership “camp” last summer at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences for 16 middle-level students.
Leanne, an eighth-grader at Grey Culbreth Middle School, started a nonprofit that has brightened the lives of sick children and teens in 18 pediatric hospitals across 15 states by raising money for gifts including iPads, gift cards, movies and video games. Born with a congenital heart condition, Leanne was in the hospital awaiting test results when a volunteer offered her a gift from a cart of toys. “I immediately knew that I wanted to give to other hospitalized children,” said Leanne. “It is very scary for children to be in an unfamiliar environment where they have no control over their bodies, hospital routines and treatment.”
In late 2011, Leanne formed her nonprofit organization, “Positive Impact for Kids,” and got to work. She set up a website, developed a presentation to solicit donations, appealed to businesses for raffle items, spoke in front of local clubs, applied for grants, gave interviews to news media, and brainstormed ways to raise money. After researching hospitals, she speaks to a child life specialist at each facility to find out what items would be most appreciated. She found that iPads are particularly useful since they are used to educate young patients about upcoming treatments and to distract and entertain them. So far, Leanne has raised $22,000 to fund her nonprofit. “I plan to continue my nonprofit throughout my life,” said Leanne. “I love the work I do and the personal benefits that come with helping others.”
As State Honorees, Molly and Leanne 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 six other North Carolina students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are North Carolina's Distinguished Finalists for 2014:
Andrew Distell, 18, of Fayetteville, N.C., a senior at The Fayetteville Academy, coordinated “Boot Camp 2 Beat Castleman’s and Cancer,” a charity fitness event with a 27-mile bike ride, military-style boot camp, and a 5K run/walk. Andrew, who was inspired to raise awareness and funds by a cousin who has Castleman’s disease, raised more than $11,000 to fund research through the Castleman’s Awareness and Research Effort and the Brain Tumor Foundation.
Madison Drouin, 13, of Davidson, N.C., an eighth-grader at Liberty Preparatory Christian Academy, has raised money and awareness for Father’s House International Ghana, an organization that provides shelter and education to former child slaves, by helping to plan a fundraiser and by donating the proceeds from book she wrote about silk moths. Madison, who was wants to raise awareness that child slavery still exists, has also volunteered at school and community events to share her book and educate others.
Avery Faucette, 17, of Charlotte, N.C., a senior at Charlotte Catholic High School, has collected and donated more than 13,000 stuffed animals to police departments and community organizations that work with traumatized children through a North Carolina chapter of “Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE)” an organization she founded in 2010. Over the years, Avery has enlisted volunteers to help collect, clean and sort the donations, and has furthered the reach of her program by sending stuffed animals to Jamaica, Peru, Kenya, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
Rachel Hopkins, 15, of Raleigh, N.C., a member of the Girl Scouts-North Carolina Coastal Pines and a sophomore at Durham Academy, has been instrumental in raising awareness of the endangered status of amphibians through her “Save the Frogs Day.” Rachel, who earned her Girl Scout Silver and Gold Awards with these projects, also worked with the North Carolina Herpetological Society to encourage the state legislature to have the Pine Barrens tree frog declared the state frog and the marbled salamander declared the state salamander in an effort to call attention to these endangered species.
Sloane Pfaff, 16, of Morehead City, N.C., a sophomore at West Carteret High School, co-founded an annual charity fashion show with her sister in 2005 and has raised more than $35,000 to support various children’s organizations. In 2012, Sloane coordinated the event on her own and raised nearly $4,000 for the Boys & Girls Club of Coastal Carolina.
Emily Shuford, 14, of Hildebran, N.C., a freshman at East Burke High School, has raised more than $4,000 for a variety of organizations over the past eight years since she was first diagnosed with kidney disease. Over the years, Emily has coordinated the annual “Princess with a Purpose” charity pageant to help fund camp experiences at Camp Kidney for children with kidney disease.
“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