WASHINGTON, May 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Maine's top two youth volunteers of 2019, Isabel Brennan, 18, of Yarmouth and Rebecca Hatt, 14, of Biddeford, were honored in the nation's capital last night for their outstanding volunteer service during the 24th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Isabel and Rebecca – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – received a $1,000 award and personal congratulations from award-winning actress Viola Davis at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Isabel and Rebecca Maine's top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Isabel, a senior at Yarmouth High School, has been a leader in a local program that provides a nutritious breakfast and lunch, as well as supervised activities on summer weekdays, for kids whose families may not be able to afford three meals a day. When Isabel was a freshman, a friend told her about Lunch Crunch, a program designed to ensure that children who get free or subsidized meals at school don't go hungry during the summer. After signing on as a volunteer that first summer, "I quickly fell in love with the program," she said, noting that its participants come overwhelmingly from immigrant and low-income families in a relatively affluent city. "Lunch Crunch is more than just community service," she said. "It creates relationships and support systems between different groups of people in a town that does not often recognize these differences."
In her role as a Lunch Crunch leader, Isabel meets with adult leaders in the community prior to the start of the summer to coordinate and plan the program schedule. She and the person in charge of the district's food services design a daily menu that is both nutritious and cost-effective. Once the half-day program begins for the summer, Isabel picks up the food and brings it to the playground where the camp is held, coordinates that day's student volunteers as they play with and mentor the younger children, and helps with games, crafts and other activities. Each summer, between 25 and 30 children attend the camp, said Isabel. "Not only is every child fed both breakfast and lunch every day of the summer," said Isabel, "but relationships and memories are created for everyone that will be unforgettable."
Rebecca, an eighth-grader at Biddeford Middle School, spearheaded a project to collect sanitary napkins and tampons for homeless women in her community. While searching for a project that her Girl Scout troop could undertake to help people, Rebecca came across a video on Facebook that addressed the fact that homeless women often lack access to feminine hygiene products. "Women's reproductive health is important," said Rebecca. "No one should have to choose between buying food for themselves and maintaining hygiene." As she researched the problem, she learned that more than 50,000 women in the United States live on the streets, and that it appeared that even in her own community the number of homeless women was growing.
So Rebecca persuaded her Girl Scout troop to join her in what she called "Project Confidence." They began by collecting bottles from school, family and friends, and then recycled them and used the proceeds to buy feminine hygiene products. The troop also hosted a carnival to raise funds, and clipped coupons to obtain store discounts. Once they had a supply of products, Rebecca and her fellow volunteers distributed them to a teen center, soup kitchens, churches and other organizations that work with low-income and homeless women. Rebecca also took it upon herself to monitor the donations and replenish them as needed. Thanks to Rebecca's idea, her troop has distributed more than 100 packages of pads and tampons in her town to women who need them. "If they are homeless, then they are struggling to come up with enough money to eat," said Rebecca. "I think my project will help take one stress off of homeless women in my community."
"We're impressed and inspired by the way these honorees have identified problems facing their communities and stepped up to the challenge to make a difference," said Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. "It's a privilege to celebrate their leadership and compassion, and we look forward to seeing the great things they accomplish in the future."
"These students have not only done important work in support of people in need – they've also shown their peers that young people can, and do, create meaningful change," said Christine Handy, president of NASSP. "We commend each of these young volunteers for all they've contributed to their communities."
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2019 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of Points of Light's HandsOn Network. More than 29,000 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 24 years, the program has honored more than 125,000 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 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.
Editors: For pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media.
For B-roll of Maine's honorees at the 2019 national recognition events, contact Prudential's Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or email@example.com.
SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.