Vermont's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 19th Annual National Awards Program
Stratton Mountain and Burlington students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Cornwall and South Royalton
MONTPELIER, Vt.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Michelle Dreimann, 16, of Stratton Mountain and Richard Diemer, 13, of Burlington today were named Vermont'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. Michelle was nominated by Stratton Mountain School in Stratton Mountain, and Richard was nominated by Mater Christi School in Burlington. 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”
Michelle, a junior at Stratton Mountain School, has helped raise more than $150,000 over the past seven years for a foundation that provides scholarships and medical care to families of employees of the Hualalai Resort in Hawaii. Michelle also promoted recycling at the resort and brought curbside recycling service to residents. For many years, Michelle and her family have spent vacations at Hualalai, where they own a home. “Seeing the same employees every year, they became part of my family, or ‘Ohana’ as they say in Hawaiian,” said Michelle. “At the age of 10, I realized that it was time to start giving back to the employees by making a donation to the Ohana Foundation.”
Since she didn’t have much money to donate, Michelle began conducting annual golf cart washes to raise money, with help from her sister and friends. Then she sold reusable grocery bags, water bottles, coffee mugs, stickers and T-shirts – all sporting a recycling logo she’d designed – and donated the profits to the Ohana Foundation. She also negotiated a low rate with a recycling company to provide curbside service at the resort, and arranged for the five-cent redeemable deposit on beverage containers to be donated to the foundation. Most recently, Michelle has worked with her sister and other young volunteers to host an annual dance event for resort homeowners and employees as an additional way to support the foundation.“The Hualalai community has become my second family and I am grateful for the chance to give back,” said Michelle.
Richard, a seventh-grader at Mater Christi School, developed a plan to facilitate the use of reusable water bottles at his school and install a sorting station for recyclables in his cafeteria. Richard’s school prohibits the use of disposable water bottles, yet filling reusable water bottles from the school cafeteria’s existing water fountains is difficult, said Richard. And, though the school does its best with its existing budget, the only recycling resource it's been able to provide in the school cafeteria is a “landfill bin,” he said. So Richard, with support from his mother, decided to “take the bull by the horns” and come up with a plan to address the water bottle problem and encourage more thorough recycling in the cafeteria.
Richard researched possible solutions and applied for a community waste reduction grant from the county’s solid waste district. He then met with an official from the district, who assessed the school’s recycling needs. Richard plans to use the grant money to purchase two water bottle refilling stations, a drinking station and a waste sorting station for the cafeteria that allows students to separate recyclables, compostables, liquids and landfill items. He’s also working on signs that will make it clear where to place various waste items after lunch. “Thousands of milk cartons and other recyclables and compost will be saved from over-filled landfills” as a result of his project, said Richard.
As State Honorees, Michelle and Richard 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 Vermont students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Vermont's Distinguished Finalists for 2014:
Sonia Howlett, 17, of Cornwall, Vt., a senior at Middlebury Union High School, participates in a number of service projects, including helping at the public library, serving in student government and volunteering with her local 4-H club. Sonia also started and leads a French club for elementary students.
Moriah Post-Kinney, 17, of South Royalton, Vt., a senior at South Royalton School, is a volunteer home visitor for Good Beginnings of Central Vermont, an organization that does home visits to provide assistance to families with newborns. Moriah also helps to promote the organization, recruit volunteers, plan and organize meetings and write grants on its behalf.
“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