CONCORD, N.H., Feb. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Jacob Parker, 17, of Windham and Alexandra Macdonald, 11, of Thornton today were named New Hampshire's top two youth volunteers of 2017 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Jacob and Alexandra 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 2017.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 22nd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
These are New Hampshire's top youth volunteers of 2017:
High School State Honoree: Jacob Parker
Nominated by Windham High School in Windham
Jacob, a senior at Windham High School, founded a nonprofit corporation involving dozens of student volunteers who work on a variety of projects to promote enduring recoveries for people struggling with addiction. "Addiction has always been a major issue," said Jacob, "but over the past few years it has reached an all-time high." For Jacob, the problem is not only urgent, but also personal. "I have lost numerous family members and seen dozens more in my community struggle," he said. "However, I have also seen how proper support can be the difference between life and death."
To help provide that support, Jacob founded "Victory Over Addiction" in 2015. He recruited fellow students who shared his passion, created a website to explain his mission, and began making presentations to school groups and local organizations about the dangers of drug abuse and alcoholism. Jacob and his fellow volunteers also started raising money by shoveling snow for local residents, placing donation jars at more than 70 local businesses, and canvassing door-to-door. The $21,000 raised so far has been used to provide food and other supplies for local recovery meetings, to deliver furniture and other forms of support to houses for recovering addicts across New England, and to create an annual alcohol-free "Senior Safe Night" for more than 200 high school seniors on the night of graduation.
Middle Level State Honoree: Alexandra Macdonald
Nominated by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains in Bedford
Alexandra, a sixth-grader at Thornton Central School, held donation drives at her school and a local toy store that yielded more than 200 stuffed animals for young patients at Children's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock (CHaD). "I wanted to help people in need," said Alexandra, "so I thought of people in the hospital." She began investigating hospitals, and learned that CHaD had a "ginormous" list of needed items, especially new stuffed animals. "If I am going through something difficult, I want something to hold tight and cuddle with," she said. "I bet children at a hospital want the same thing."
Cheered on by her mother, Alexandra got permission to hold a stuffed animal collection drive at her school. She made fliers and a poster, and visited each classroom to explain her project. Afterward, she conducted a similar drive at a toy store, and then delivered 228 stuffed animals to the hospital. Alexandra also designed a Girl Scout "patch" program called "Hospital Helper" to encourage other Girl Scouts to take on similar projects.
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 2017:
Jillian MacGregor, 18, of Nashua, N.H., a senior at Nashua High School South, has promoted a love of computing in younger girls by mentoring the first all-girl FIRST Lego League at her local Boys and Girls Club, teaching coding to middle schoolers, and offering a summer camp that later evolved into an after-school computing club. Jillian also developed a mentoring program to help her camp participants develop leadership and presentation skills.
Arielys Liriano Trejo, 18, of Manchester, N.H., a senior at Manchester High School West, has been a volunteer teacher since October 2015 with Breakthrough Manchester, a program that provides middle schoolers with skills and tools to help them pursue a college education. Arielys, who participated in the program as a student for five years, now prepares, revises and teaches lessons, and also checks in with students during monthly calls.
"Prudential is honored to recognize these young volunteers for their exemplary service," said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. "We hope that their stories inspire others to consider how they, too, can volunteer their time and talents to improve their communities."
"These service-minded young people have brought meaningful change to communities at home and abroad, and it's a privilege to celebrate their work," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "Congratulations to an exceptional group of middle level and high school students."
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 8, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2017. 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 115,000 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, China and Brazil. 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.
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. 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.
For Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallion graphics, please visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media
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SOURCE Prudential Insurance