BOISE, Idaho--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Chandler Beard, 18, of Ashton and Tracie Bates-Orgill, 14, of Rigby today were named Idaho's top two youth volunteers of 2015 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Chandler was nominated by North Fremont High School in Ashton, and Tracie was nominated by Rigby Middle School in Rigby. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 20th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Chandler, a senior at North Fremont High School, helped raise more than $10,000 over the past three years to benefit local people with breast cancer by organizing an annual volleyball game and breast cancer awareness night. A member of her small town’s high school volleyball team, Chandler became involved in the fight against this often-deadly disease when her best friend’s mother was diagnosed. “When she told us how expensive radiation was and how often she had to travel to receive the health care she needed, I wanted to do anything I could to help,” said Chandler.
She contacted the radiation center where her friend’s mother was being treated to find out what she could do. They suggested she raise money to help their patients pay for gasoline. With help from her teammates, Chandler began organizing an annual volleyball event to raise money and spread breast cancer awareness. After inviting breast cancer survivors to be honored at the event, team members solicited pledges in the community and donations for a raffle, placed donation cans around town, made posters to publicize the game, and sparked a competition between the town’s two schools with a faculty member from each pledging to shave his head at a pep assembly if his school collected the most money. Chandler also sold pink treats and pink shirts at the game to signify breast cancer awareness. In addition to aiding patients at the radiation center, Chandler’s volleyball team decided to donate proceeds from the 2013 fundraiser to their school custodian, who had recently learned she had breast cancer. “It’s been such a blessing to get to know the women in my community who are breast cancer survivors,” said Chandler. “I’m sure they have impacted my life far more than I have impacted theirs.”
Tracie, an eighth-grader at Rigby Middle School, serves senior citizens in her community by preparing and delivering Meals on Wheels and by raising money to replace the old and problem-prone delivery van used in the program. Tracie said she got involved because she enjoys being around seniors at her community’s senior center. “I loved visiting with them,” she said. “I would sit and listen to them. I learned more about the past then I would in a history class and it was much more interesting.” During her conversations with seniors, Tracie learned about the importance of Meals on Wheels, especially for those on tight budgets or who can no longer prepare their own food.
She began by helping to prepare nutritious meals for seniors and then delivering them to those in need, many of them unable to leave their homes. It was then that she saw how susceptible the program’s delivery van was to breakdowns and how many seniors depend upon these meals being delivered in a timely manner. When she asked the directors at the center how she could help, they suggested she raise money to help purchase a new van. Tracie decided to hold a barbeque, publicizing the event with flyers that she distributed around the community. Her efforts raised more than a thousand dollars toward the purchase of a new van for more reliable meal-delivery service.
As State Honorees, Chandler and Tracie 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 2015.
The program judges also recognized two other Idaho students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Idaho's Distinguished Finalists for 2015:
Addie Lutz, 17, of Grangeville, Idaho, a senior at Grangeville High School, was inspired by a close friend who had been diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) to host a 5K fun run that raised more than $11,000 to benefit CureSMA. Addie, who recruited friends to help plan the event, is already planning the second annual fun run.
Benjamin Seabourn, 14, of Boise, Idaho, a freshman at North Junior High School, founded the “Catalpa Quartet,” a string quartet that plays for senior citizens and people in nursing homes, and has raised $5,000 to pay for instrument repairs at elementary schools throughout Boise that cannot afford the repairs. Benjamin, the group’s leader and business manager, says the funds have gone to provide 1,250 bridges, 1,000 strings and 250 end pins, some of the most common instrument repairs.
“Prudential is honored to celebrate the contributions of these remarkable young volunteers,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “By shining a spotlight on the difference they’ve made in their communities, we hope others are inspired to volunteer, too.”
“These students have not only improved their communities through their exemplary volunteer service, but also set a fine example for their peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “Each of their stories is proof of the impact one young person can have when they decide to make a difference.”
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 4, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2015. 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 voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States and 35 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