CONCORD, N.H., Feb. 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Andrew Silsby, 18, of Newfields and Joli Lunderville, 12, of Lancaster today were named New Hampshire's top two youth volunteers of 2019 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Andrew and Joli 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 2019.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 24th 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 2019:
High School State Honoree: Andrew Silsby
Nominated by Exeter High School
Andrew, a senior at Exeter High School, organized an annual golf tournament that has raised $44,000 over the past three years to improve the quality of life of kids who, like him, have battled brain tumors. Andrew underwent surgery for a brain tumor at age 5, and soon after began conducting book, toy and coat drives to benefit other young cancer patients, even though he was still recovering. That recovery got a big boost when he was "adopted" by the University of New Hampshire's men's hockey team through a program of the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation. "For the past seven years, I have been an honorary member of this team, and the impact this has had on my self-esteem and quality of life is immeasurable," he said.
Three years ago, Andrew decided to celebrate 10 years of good health by giving back to the program that had done so much for him. As a member of his high school golf team, he naturally thought about organizing a golf tournament. He arranged to hold it at a local golf club, and began working on a plan to attract players, sponsors and volunteers. Each year, Andrew has secured sponsorships from 18-20 local businesses, collected more than 70 donated items from local and national companies for a raffle, filled all of the tournament's player slots, and recruited more than 15 volunteers to help on the day of the event. His three tournaments so far have raised enough money to enable more than 20 kids with cancer to become honorary members of sports teams through the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation's Adopt-a-Child Program. "I am one of the lucky ones," said Andrew. "I am a survivor, healthy and feel like it is important to give back to those less fortunate."
Middle Level State Honoree: Joli Lunderville
Nominated by Groveton High School (Middle)
Joli, a seventh-grader at Groveton High School (Middle), worked with her Girl Scout troop to make fluffy pillows and toys for dogs and cats living in animal shelters. When her troop was searching for an idea for a community service project, Joli suggested doing something for homeless pets, since she had seen numerous advertisements about neglected dogs in shelters. "The people who were trying to help the animals in shelters inspired me," she said.
Once they had settled on a plan, Joli and her fellow scouts made posters and began seeking donated materials. They collected mostly old clothing and used tennis balls for their pillows and toys, then learned how to sew, and stitched the items together with a sewing machine that Joli arranged to have donated. When they were finished, they taught officials at nearby Dog Mountain how to make the toys so that they can "carry on this tradition," she said. Joli and her Girl Scout troop also built and painted a bench for a nursing home the previous year. Community service projects, said Joli, give her a "great warm feeling in my heart."
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 2019:
Samantha Randlett, 18, of Brookline, N.H., a senior at Hollis Brookline High School, recruited volunteers, raised money, and then traveled to Texas with her youth group so they could rebuild a house that was destroyed by a hurricane. Over the course of a week and a half, Samantha and her group made significant progress in reconstructing a house that had been reduced to just floors and wooden beams, so a displaced family could once again live in their home.
Tejas Sathyamurthi, 17, of Nashua, N.H., a senior at Nashua High School South, was inspired by his experience witnessing a forest fire in California to create a data-driven model that could predict wildfires and alert emergency services in advance. He also founded STEM clubs at a Boys and Girls Club, providing about 40 young participants with insights and hands-on examples of how STEM can be used to solve problems.
"These young volunteers learned and demonstrated that they can make meaningful contributions to individuals and communities through their service," said Prudential CEO Charles Lowrey. "It's an honor to recognize their great work, and we hope that shining a spotlight on their service inspires others to consider how they might make a difference."
"Each of these honorees is proof that students have the energy, creativity and unique perspectives to create positive change," said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. "We commend each of the 2019 honorees for their outstanding volunteer service, and for the invaluable example they've set for their peers."
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 affiliates of Points of Light's HandsOn Network, 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 6, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2019. 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 125,000 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 principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student's potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. 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 Student Council. Learn more at 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
SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.