|[February 05, 2013]
West Virginia's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 18th Annual National Awards Program
CHARLESTON, W. Va. --(Business Wire)--
Jay Haapala, 15, of Elkview and Julian Harrington, 12, of West Union
today were named West Virginia'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. Jay was nominated by
Capital High School in Charleston, and Julian was nominated by Doddridge
County Middle School in West Union. 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
Jay, a freshman at Capital High School, chaired West Virginia's annual
fundraising walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)
last year, attracting more than 700 walkers and raising a record
$140,000. After Jay was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes nine years ago,
he and his family began participating in the annual walk in Charleston.
"As I grew older, I decided I wanted to find a project relating to
diabetes, and to prove to myself and others that I could handle
anything," he said. "I am always up for a challenge, especially if I can
help people in the process."
Jay joined the board of West Virginia's JDRF chapter and took on the
challenge of chairing the chapter's walk. Starting months before the May
event, he created a new logo and slogan, built a website, recruited
local high school students and his Boy Scout troop to help, planned
media coverage and worked on logistics with other chapter board members.
"The most difficult part of my project was being in charge of so many
people," said Jay. To make the walk extra fun for young walkers, Jay
arranged for balloons to be released at the starting line, a helicopter
to land at the event and a military airplane to be on display. He also
handed out cards resembling airline safety cards to illustrate the
warning signs and treatments for abnormal blood sugar levels. Jay has
already agreed to chair this year's event.
Julian, a sixth-grader at Doddridge County Middle School, organized a
yard sale and benefit dinner that together raised $1,600 for two
families who lost their homes to a fire. This was just the latest of
Julian's volunteer projects. Previously, he had donated his birthday
money to relief efforts in Haiti, raised money for tsunami victims in
Japan, conducted a car wash and bake sale to benefit food pantries, and
helped make blankets for senior citizens. "I don't like to see others
hurting no matter what the circumstances," he explained.
So when a winter fire destroyed two homes in Salem, W.Va., Julian felt
compelled to respond. "I felt sorry for both families that lost
everything," he said. He collected things to sell at his yard sale,
distributed promotional flyers to local businesses, submitted an article
to the local newspaper, and recruited family members and friends to help
conduct the sale and cook the dinner. Julian knew he'd really
accomplished something when he saw the tears in the eyes of the two
families as they received their checks. "No matter where we live, rich
or poor, or what country we live in, we are all God's children and
should help one another," said Julian.
As State Honorees, Jay and Julian 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
recogniion events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America's
top youth volunteers of 2013.
The program judges also recognized two other West Virginia students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are West Virginia's Distinguished Finalists for 2013:
Briana Smith, 19, of Williamson, W.Va., a senior at Mingo Central
High School, helped to raise $25,000 at an annual banquet over the past
four years as a member of the Tug Valley Friendship Foundation. Briana,
who is also the state vice president of the West Virginia State Beta
Club, helps to coordinate the purchase and distribution of Christmas
gifts to local children from families in need.
Tiffani Webb, 18, of Culloden, W.Va., a member of the Girl Scouts
of Black Diamond in Charleston and a senior at Cabell Midland High
School, is an active community volunteer who recently coordinated a
project to collect more than 2,000 books, 359 movies, six gaming systems
and 129 games for the River Park Hospital Pediatric Unit. Tiffani has
also hosted parties for the children to get them excited about reading,
including a red carpet event and a "Wild About Reading" program.
"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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