CONCORD, N.H.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Daniel Iacopucci, 18, of Belmont and Elizabeth Hughes, 11, of Bedford today were named New Hampshire'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. Daniel was nominated by Belmont High School in Belmont, and Elizabeth was nominated by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains in Bedford. 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).
Daniel, a senior at Belmont High School, created a picnic area and perennial garden along a paved walking and biking trail in a neighboring community last year. Daniel loves the outdoors, so when he was looking for ideas for a service project, he started thinking about a relatively new trail running along a picturesque lake in nearby Laconia, and ways he could add to the enjoyment of those who use it. “I wanted to create a place for people and families of all ages to enjoy together and felt it was important because families don’t spend as much time together as they should,” said Daniel. “I thought it would be nice if people could enjoy a nice walk on the trail and then stop for lunch at the site.”
He sold the town’s director of parks and recreation on the idea of creating a picnic area and garden, and then wrote letters to local businesses seeking money and supplies. Next, he recruited about 20 volunteers and went to work digging the garden and planting trees, flowers and shrubs, which Daniel watered almost every day. After collecting wood from a local lumberyard, he worked with his father and grandfather to build and stain a picnic table; and acquired a second table by cleaning the parking lot at a donor’s business. The project took four months to complete. Now, “families and trail users of all ages will have a place to rest and have a bite while enjoying the beauty of the lake and garden,” said Daniel.
Elizabeth, a home-schooled fifth-grader, has spent eight weeks over the past two years volunteering in foreign countries with her family, donating supplies and working on construction projects. Elizabeth has been participating in her family’s nonprofit organization, “Color My World,” since she was 3 years old. “We have been volunteering as a family since I learned to walk,” said Elizabeth. “I love volunteering and working with people.”
She began her volunteer work by collecting and packaging hygiene items with her older siblings for distribution to victims of natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesian tsunami. For the past two years, Elizabeth has traveled with her family and other volunteers to Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic to deliver hygiene kits and toys; build houses, latrines and playgrounds; provide support for libraries; teach art classes; and help feed children living in poverty. Closer to home, Elizabeth and her family also have volunteered at a local women’s homeless shelter, and collected Thanksgiving baskets for struggling families in their community. “I would tell other people that you are never too young to start volunteering,” said Elizabeth. “All you have to do is reach out and be a friend to someone.”
As State Honorees, Daniel and Elizabeth 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 New Hampshire students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are New Hampshire's Distinguished Finalists for 2015:
Zoe Perkins, 17, of Windham, N.H., a senior at Windham High School, created a series of “Science Days” that she held at the local library, featuring fun experiments to help spread her love of science throughout the community. Zoe also created science kits for the middle school filled with the materials to conduct experiments, and created a Facebook page she updated frequently with information about experiments, recent discoveries and science jokes.
Elizabeth West, 15, of Loudon, N.H.., a sophomore at Merrimack Valley High School, collected 1,355 canned food items and $545 to support the Loudon Food Pantry with a Halloween Party at the local elementary school where food donations were the entrance price. Elizabeth recruited volunteers, secured donations from local businesses, and created the games and activities for the party.
“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