WASHINGTON, May 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- New Hampshire's top two youth volunteers of 2019, Andrew Silsby, 18, of Newfields and Joli Lunderville, 12, of Lancaster, 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. Andrew and Joli – 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 Andrew and Joli New Hampshire'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.
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 [I] feel like it is important to give back to those less fortunate."
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."
"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 New Hampshire'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.