WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Two Maryland students, Christina Antonini, 18, of Edgewater and Sareana Kimia, 12, of Bethesda, were honored in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer work during the presentation of The 2011 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. The two young people – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon at the 16th annual award ceremony and gala dinner reception, held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
Christina and Sareana were named the top high school and middle level youth volunteers in Maryland last February. In addition to their cash awards, they received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for this week’s recognition events.
“The Prudential Spirit of Community honorees have seen problems in their communities and around the world and have taken action,” said Ms. Sarandon. “Their compassion to help others should give us all a lot of hope for the future.”
Christina, a member of Girl Scouts of Central Maryland and a senior at Severn School in Severna Park, spent thousands of hours over the past six years leading a team of three other Girl Scouts in designing, financing, and building a resale shop and job skills training center at a residential rehabilitation facility for low-income women and their children. When she was in sixth grade, Christina volunteered to host several children’s parties at the facility. “I really felt sympathy for the women who had taken the wrong path and became addicted to drugs and alcohol. I wanted to help them with their second chance in life because they were fighting to keep their families together,” said Christina.
Christina learned that the facility, Chrysalis House, needed a small storage shed to store excess donations. She and her team met with an architect to draw up plans, and made design changes until the small shed grew into a 1,700-square-foot, two-story, $275,000 building that would house a Butterfly Boutique and be a place for residents to learn job skills. Christina made presentations to building suppliers, manufacturers and contractors asking for donations of supplies and labor. She conducted numerous fund-raisers, sold engraved bricks to raise money for the project, and volunteered throughout the construction. Open since January, the Butterfly Boutique sells clothing, household items, books, art, jewelry and other items to provide revenue for Chrysalis House, while enabling residents to learn new job and small business skills.
Sareana, a seventh-grader at Parkland Magnet Middle School in Rockville, prepared meals for dozens of poor, hungry children at a temple in India during two trips to that country last year. While visiting her grandparents, Sareana saw many children on the streets near a temple, who live without food, water, shelter, or proper clothing. “I saw many children who were barely clothed and dirty,” said Sareana. “They suffered from extreme poverty and hunger. I was very heartbroken. I knew I could do something.”
She asked her grandfather if he could get permission for her to use the temple kitchen. Once permission was granted, Sareana met with temple employees to learn how to use the kitchen, and scheduled a time when children would likely be in the area. She then asked her grandmother for help in planning a menu and drawing up a shopping list. Her mother helped Sareana cook the meals, and her cousins helped serve them. Between 35 and 40 hungry children benefited from the five meals Sareana and her team prepared last winter and from nine meals served during a trip last summer. The temple is continuing Sareana’s cooking program, she said. Back in the U.S., she made a presentation on the issue of poverty and hunger to 150 people and would like to start a program here similar to the one in India. “I want to continue to see the happy and cheerful faces of poor and hungry children when they are fed,” said Sareana. “I think that one can change life one small step at a time.”
“Christina and Sareana represent young Americans who have a strong sense of community and who are dedicated to improving our neighborhoods, our nation and our world,” said John R. Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “With great anticipation, we look forward to their future achievements as they continue to spread the spirit of community.”
More than 29,000 young people participated in the 2011 awards program last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the Points of Light Institute’s HandsOn Network. The top middle level and high school applicants in each state were selected in February, and were flown to Washington this week with their parents for four days of special recognition events.
Conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were created 16 years ago by Prudential Financial to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models.
“The young women and men in America’s schools are nothing short of amazing, and nowhere is this more evident than amongst this year’s award recipients,” said NASSP President Jana Frieler. “They possess a keen intellect, servant hearts, capable leadership skills, and are filled with energy and ambition. NASSP and Prudential are honored to recognize them.”
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 45 countries around the world. NASSP provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, 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.
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, investment management, and real estate services. 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 http://www.news.prudential.com/
[Editors: full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions are available at spirit.prudential.com.]
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