WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jake Gallin, 13, of New Rochelle, N.Y., was named one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2015 today by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards during the program’s 20th annual national award ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Selected from a field of more than 33,000 youth volunteers from across the country, Jake has earned the title of National Honoree, along with a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for his school, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of his choice.
Also honored this week in Washington, D.C., was David Jaslow, 18, of Roslyn. David and Jake were named New York’s top youth volunteers in February, and were officially recognized last night at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History along with the top two youth volunteers in each other state and the District of Columbia. At that event, each of the 102 State Honorees for 2015 received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts. The honorees each also received engraved silver medallions and all-expense-paid trips with a parent to Washington, D.C., for this week’s recognition events.
Jake, a seventh-grader at Albert Leonard Middle School who was nominated by Volunteer New York!, founded an organization called “Stars for Cars” and has raised more than $12,000 for the United Service Organization (USO) by selling star-shaped magnetic car decals that honor families of soldiers who have served in the U.S. armed forces. Jake says his life changed the day he saw First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden on a television show in 2011 discussing the need to recognize military families. “Mrs. Obama reminded
the audience that 1 percent of our country is protecting the other 99 percent,” said Jake. “This statistic compelled me to design a star-shaped magnetic decal in hopes of raising awareness of the sacrifices that these brave families make every day.”
Jake sells his decals - which read “We Support Blue & Gold Military Families”- in person, on his website (starsforcars.org), at sporting events and through local businesses. After his first printing, the USO of Metropolitan New York contacted him and agreed to become his partner. Last summer, Jake expanded his efforts by sending more than 7,000 letters to New York state schools, school superintendents and government officials, urging them to make an announcement recognizing military members and their families on three days each year: Memorial Day, Patriot Day and Veterans Day. More than 100 schools have notified Jake that they intend to follow his recommendation. “I hope I am having an impact on every single person who hears the announcement or sees a star decal on the car in front of them,” said Jake.
David, a senior at Roslyn High School, co-founded a charity that has raised more than $300,000 over the past four years to find a cure for cancer and ease the burdens of families afflicted by the disease. David’s is one of those families. His mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, his uncle died from pancreatic cancer in 2007, and his grandfather has battled gall bladder cancer. “I knew I needed to take action to prevent other families from suffering these same tragedies,” said David. He began participating in annual fundraising walks to support cancer charities, but soon realized that much of the money raised was going to organizational overhead instead of research and patient care.
So David and his mother formed a charity that delivers donations directly to critical research work and to families struggling with cancer. Their nonprofit organization, “Go With Courage, Inc.,” has hosted a series of fundraisers including “Ladies’ Day Card Parties,” holiday shopping events, and “Casino Nights,” which typically draw 200-300 supporters. David is responsible for almost every aspect of the planning for these events, including selecting locations, creating invitations, promoting attendance through social media and mass email marketing, maintaining guest lists, and selling sponsorships and advertising. He also recruits fellow high school students to solicit raffle prizes and stuff goody bags. In addition, David’s charity has aided cancer-burdened families by conducting toy drives and delivering meals. “I have learned through personal experience that life can unexpectedly shatter the innocence you once enjoyed,” said David. “It is what you do next that defines you. I chose to take a stand.”
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a national youth recognition program sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
“As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, we are delighted to recognize the 2015 honorees for their exemplary volunteer service,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “These young people have demonstrated leadership, compassion and perseverance, and we look forward to seeing all they accomplish in the future.”
“These honorees represent the best of what America’s youth have to offer,” said G.A. Buie, president of NASSP. “They have set a powerful example for their peers by proving that one young person really can make a difference, and it is a privilege to shine a spotlight on their good works.”
In addition to Jake, these are the other 2015 National Honorees:
Raghav Ganesh, 13, of San Jose, Calif., a seventh-grader at Joaquin Miller Middle School, designed and built a device that uses sensors to detect objects beyond the reach of the white canes used by many visually impaired people.
Carolina Gonzalez, 18, of Coral Gables, Fla., a senior at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy in Miami, started a nonprofit organization that has helped more than 500 undocumented young immigrants apply for temporary residence and employment in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and has raised more than $22,000 to pay the application fees of those who cannot afford them.
Eric Li, 14, of Manvel, Texas, an eighth-grader at Pearland Junior High West, founded a nonprofit organization with his siblings that has collected nearly $200,000 in cash and in-kind donations to help children around the world recover from major disasters.
Arturo (AJ) Mattia, 15, of Turnersville, N.J., a freshman at Holy Cross Academy, survived bone cancer and a leg amputation to become a prominent champion for pediatric cancer awareness and fundraising.
Morlan Osgood, 16, of Loveland, Ohio, a junior at Loveland High School, co-founded an educational program that has helped more than 14,000 students in grades 2-12 develop their interest and skills in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) through summer camps, after-school classes, conference workshops and other activities.
Samantha Petersen, 18, of South Windsor, Conn., a home-schooled senior, founded a nonprofit organization that disseminates information about scoliosis, screens children in low-income communities for the disease, and offers emotional support to those undergoing corrective surgery.
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Top Youth Volunteers Honored in Washington, D.C. – page 4
Elizabeth Quesenberry, 17, of Wilmington, Del., a senior at Padua Academy High School, overcame a diagnosis of brain cancer to start a nonprofit organization that has raised $100,000 over the past six years to increase awareness of childhood cancer, help fund the search for a cure, and ease the financial pressure on families of young cancer patients.
Carter Ries, 14, of Fayetteville, Ga., an eighth-grader at Konos Academy, created a weeklong educational curriculum with his younger sister that is teaching kids about the importance of reducing plastic pollution.
Caleb White, 12, of Commerce Township, Mich., a seventh-grader at Clifford H. Smart Middle School, hands out boxes of food, toiletries and warm garments to the homeless on the streets of Detroit each year during the Christmas season, and last August threw a back-to-school party that provided 800 children in need with backpacks stuffed with new school supplies.
The distinguished selection committee that chose the National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld and included Buie of NASSP; Andrea Bastiani Archibald, chief girl expert for Girl Scouts of the USA; Robert Bisi, senior public affairs manager for the Corporation for National and Community Service; Tracy Hoover, president of Points of Light; Reneé Jackson, senior manager of education programs at the National PTA; Maxine Margaritis, vice president of volunteer services for the American Red Cross; Delia Pompa, senior vice president for programs at the National Council of La Raza; Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of the National 4-H Council; Dru Tomlin, director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education; Kevin Washington, president and CEO of YMCA of the USA; and two 2014 National Honorees: Sean Egan of Staten Island, N.Y., a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, and Kinsey Morrison of Goshen, Ky., a freshman at Stanford University.
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2015 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 33,000 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, too. In the past 20 years, the program has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
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
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Editors: For full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW
For B-roll of New York’s honorees at the 2015 national recognition events, contact Prudential’s Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.