WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Georgia's top two youth volunteers of 2013, David Resnick, 18, of Roswell and Kelsey Hirsch, 13, of Cumming, were honored in the nation’s capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 18th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. David and Kelsey – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named David and Kelsey Georgia's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
David, a senior at Centennial High School, has played a leadership role for the past six years in an organization called Creating Connected Communities that throws an annual holiday party for more than 750 children from homeless shelters throughout Atlanta. When David was 10, his sister asked the guests at her bat mitzvah celebration to bring books for homeless kids, and David helped deliver them to a local shelter. “I loved seeing how happy those kids were to receive the gifts,” he said. Three years later, he decided to do something similar at his bar mitzvah, but asked his guests to bring toys instead of books.
Just before his celebration, David read about a local girl who years earlier had used her bat mitzvah gift money to put on a holiday party for children at a homeless shelter, which grew into an annual event called “Amy’s Holiday Party” (now part of Creating Connected Communities). “I was so excited about what Amy had created that I contacted her to tell her that I would donate more than 100 toys that I collected to her organization,” said David. Amy accepted David’s offer and invited him to serve on the teen leadership committee that plans, organizes and raises funds for the huge annual event. The event includes a DJ-led dance party, carnival games, a catered lunch and two brand-new toys for each guest, all coordinated by the teen committee. As one of the teen leaders, David does more than just plan the party. He also visits shelters, interacts with local philanthropists and learns all about nonprofit organizations. David also has been a peer facilitator for students with disabilities at his high school for the past three years, has collected candy for the troops, volunteered at the Atlanta Food Bank, and holds a job mentoring and assisting a student with autism in his Hebrew school class.
Kelsey, an eighth-grader at Piney Grove Middle School, sold more than $15,000 worth of silicone wristbands to help the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) respond to a recent surge in call volume from victims of sexual violence. After hearing about the allegations of sexual abuse at Penn State University, Kelsey, whose parents are both Penn State alumni, felt she needed to do something to help survivors of sexual assaults. “I want to make sure this never happens again,” she explained.
She designed a blue silicone wristband and met with RAINN officials to propose selling Bands4RAINN for $3 each to support RAINN’s mission. The organization agreed to publicize her effort, and Kelsey began selling the bands through friends and relatives, social media and events sponsored by other advocacy groups, both inside and outside the Penn State community. The money she raised so far has helped RAINN increase its capacity to handle a 47 percent increase in volume on its telephone and Internet hotlines that occurred since the Sandusky scandal broke.
“We commend these honorees not only for the impact of their service and their spirit of giving, but also for inspiring others to consider that they can make a difference, too,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “We congratulate this extraordinary group of youth volunteers.”
“These students are fine examples of what is possible when young people roll up their sleeves and commit themselves to helping others,” said Denise Greene-Wilkinson, president of NASSP. “They have learned early that their contributions can make a real difference, and there is no limit to the great things they can achieve.”
Youth volunteers were invited to apply for 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. More than 28,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year’s program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer as well. In the past 18 years, the program has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) 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 38 countries around the world. The association 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 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 http://www.news.prudential.com/
[Editors: For full-color pictures of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW]