WASHINGTON, May 6, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- New Mexico's top two youth volunteers of 2019, Mia Herrera, 18, of Albuquerque and Hannah Johnson, 11, of Angel Fire, 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. Mia and Hannah – 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 Mia and Hannah New Mexico'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.
Mia, a senior at Bosque School, responds to medical and trauma calls as a certified medic with her school's Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) program, teaches other students how to be emergency medical technicians, and coordinates community volunteer opportunities for other MRC members. She has also raised money for the MRC program and brought comfort to those in need of a kind word by selling a self-published poetry book, "bleed." Mia had been interested in the MRC program from the time she was in middle school, but an incident her freshman year convinced her she had to get involved. "My mom fell off a chair right in front of me and hit her head on concrete," she explained. "I didn't know how to help my mom before the EMS arrived. After this incident, I never wanted to feel helpless again."
She took a comprehensive first responder course, passed a national exam, obtained a license and joined her school's student-run MRC program. Over the past two years, she has tended many times to fellow students who needed medical attention, doing things like checking vital signs, cleaning cuts, administering asthma medications and testing for concussions. When she became MRC co-president last year, Mia began creating and teaching EMT lesson plans at biweekly meetings attended by approximately 30 students and arranging for fellow MRC members to volunteer at community events such as health care fairs, first-aid courses and roller derby competitions. In addition, Mia has donated to MRC hundreds of dollars earned from the sale of her recently published book of poetry. She had first posted her poems — a different one each day for a whole year — on her Instagram page in place of her own photos, in hopes of inspiring other young people to change the way they use social media.
Hannah, a member of Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails and a fifth-grader at Eagle Nest Elementary School, took on a project to warn residents of her town about dangerous weather conditions, and also collected supplies for a firefighting crew battling a nearby wildfire. Hannah's "Weather Awareness" project began when she realized last year that many people in her area were unaware that dry conditions had necessitated a fire ban. She printed fliers about the ban and posted them at the post office and local businesses. She subsequently posted fliers about the possibility of flash floods, strong winds and lightning strikes, and included information on how residents can keep track of hazardous weather and local road conditions. After speaking with her town's fire chief, Hannah also purchased a red flag for his department to warn the public about wildfires.
When a fire did break out in a neighboring town, Hannah started collecting supplies for firefighters being housed at her school. She set up a table in front of a local store and passed out a list of needed items to shoppers passing by. After they had bought and donated bottled water, toiletries, T-shirts and other supplies, Hannah filled her mother's car and delivered them to her school. "Collecting supplies for the firefighters and seeing the smiles on their faces was one of my favorite moments," she said.
"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 Mexico's honorees at the 2019 national recognition events, contact Prudential's Harold Banks at (973) 216-4833 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.