|[February 05, 2013]
Washington's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 18th Annual National Awards Program
OLYMPIA, Wash. --(Business Wire)--
Adam Griffis, 17, of Vancouver and Jessica Chin, 12, of Seattle today
were named Washington's top two youth volunteers of 2013 by The
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring
young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Adam was nominated by
American Red Cross Southwest Washington Region in Vancouver, and Jessica
was nominated by Seattle Country Day School in Seattle. The Prudential
Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 18th year, is conducted by
Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of
Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Adam, a senior at Union High School, oversees all American Red Cross
youth activities in southwest Washington as president of the region's
Red Cross youth council. His involvement with the Red Cross began four
years ago when he volunteered to help with a blood drive at his school.
"I realized that students were running the show and making a
difference," said Adam. Inspired by that experience, Adam decided he
wanted to help all of the schools in the area find a way to conduct
their own blood drives. After being elected a member of the regional
youth council, he took on the role of chief blood drive organizer. Then,
he started a Red Cross club at his school.
Over the years, as he worked on projects ranging from fundraising for
disaster relief to teaching CPR and first aid to members of his
community, "I learned more and more about the Red Cross, and became more
and more intrigued," said Adam. His dedication to the organization
ultimately led to his election as president of the youth council. In
that position, Adam spends an average of 10 hours a week planning
events, interacting with school representatives, managing a website,
delegating tasks to other volunteers, processing paperwork and
overseeing all aspects of the region's youth program. It's a lot of
work, said Adam, but is highly rewarding. "The great feeling of helping
others is worth ten-fold the amount of effort you put in," he said.
Jessica, a seventh-grader at Seattle Country Day School, has worked for
several years with her family at a facility that provides free
children's clothing and supplies to homeless families. She also raises
money and takes care of dogs and cats for the local Humane Society.
Jessica began volunteering at Baby Boutique after she and her mother
dropped off some donations and noticed people of different ages helping
out. "This inspired us to give it a try," said Jessica. Ever since,
Jessica has been working at the boutique whenever she can, sorting and
hanging clothing and helping families find things they need. She also
organized a hot chocolate sale at her school to raise money for the
To support her local Humane Society chapter, Jessica has donated more
than $600 by participating in two fundraising walks and persuading
family members to walk with her. She also has cared for many cats and
dogs in her home while they await adoptions. In addition, Jessica has
packed back-to-school backpacks for the YWCA to distribute to children
in need, and volunteered for a land trust while on vacation with her
family in Hawaii, potting and watering plants and weeding out invasive
vegetation. "I try to volunteer or participate in giving back to the
community every month, either through my school or on my own," said
As State Honorees, Adam and Jessica 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 2013.
The program judges also recognized six other Washington students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Washington's Distinguished Finalists for 2013:
Jessica Alvarez, 19, of Bellingham, Wash., a senior at Squalicum
High School, was selected as one of six studentsin the northwest United
States and Canada to participate in the Student Conservation Association
summer program, which involved nearly 200 hours of community service
learning about climate change. As a result, she and a friend founded the
"Youth Environmental Studies Club" at her district's middle school to
teach seventh-graders about a variety of environmental issues.
Amanda Beebe, 18, of Ocean Shores, Wash., a senior at Hoquiam
High School, has raised more than $10,000 to support the Juvenile
Diabetes Research Foundation since she was first diagnosed with Type 1
diabetes when she was seven years old. Amanda, who raises the money by
coordinating a team to walk in the organization's charity walk each
year, also volunteers as a counselor at a camp for children with
Melissa Blue, 18, of Renton, Wash., a senior at Liberty Senior
High School, spent two years while at the American International School
in Israel volunteering to conduct research into environmental hazards to
encourage farmers to reduce the use of pesticides. Melissa, a volunteer
with the Global Awareness Initiative and Action group at her school,
worked with five other schools across Israel, and was named the student
director of the program in her junior year.
Caleb Dawson, 19, of Federal Way, Wash., a senior at Federal Way
High School, worked with two of his friends to helped to collect nearly
8,000 pounds of food with their "253 Scares Hunger" event coordinated
with the national Free the Children's We Scare Hunger Halloween food
drive. Caleb, who has collected food instead of candy at Halloween for
years, helped to rally 400 young people from 18 different schools to
fill a truck with food collected door-to-door.
Anastasia Pallis, 18, of Renton, Wash., a senior at Aviation High
School, has been volunteering with Special Olympics for the past seven
years. Anastasia, who first began helping out at athlete functions, has
since become a basketball, soccer and baseball coach and is in the
process of coordinating a charity walk to raise money to support the
Svetlana Sergojan, 18, of Olympia, Wash., a senior at Capital
High School, has been an active member of the United States Naval Sea
Cadet Corps, for which she, as chief petty officer, helps to organize
and participate in patriotic community events including parades, color
guards and honor guards for funerals. Svetlana, whose grandmother
survived a concentration camp during the Holocaust, said she is grateful
for her liberty in this country and has also created "Patriot (News - Alert) Partners"
to arrange visits of friendship and companionship to local veterans from
"Prudential is proud to honor these students for making meaningful
contributions to their communities," said Prudential Chairman and CEO
John Strangfeld. "We hope that shining a spotlight on their initiative,
creativity and compassion inspires others to consider how they, too, can
make a difference."
"Through their volunteer service, each of these young people has made
his or her mark on at least one person, school or community," said JoAnn
Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "When you consider the
collective impact of each of these individual acts, it's clear that
young people can be a major force for good."
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.
Nearly 5,000 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
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 6, 10 of the State Honorees -
five middle level and five high school students - will be named
America's top youth volunteers of 2013. 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 and India. 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.
For information on all of this year's Prudential Spirit of Community
State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit http://spirit.prudential.com
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 36 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.
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 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
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