OLYMPIA, Wash., Feb. 7, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Patricia Bell, 18, of Kirkland and Tyler Fiorino, 13, of Spokane today were named Washington'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, Patricia and Tyler 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 Washington's top youth volunteers of 2017:
High School State Honoree: Patricia Bell
Nominated by Juanita High School in Kirkland
Patricia, a senior at Juanita High School, ran a three-day camp during each of the past three summers to teach young girls how to play lacrosse and to raise money for families who are unable to pay for their children's medical expenses at Seattle Children's Hospital. When she was younger, Patricia made a donation to the hospital for a young girl's heart transplant. "I was so proud and thrilled that the money I raised could help her live a normal life again," said Patricia. When she entered high school, she wondered how she could support hospital patients while doing something she felt passionate about. Her answer: LAX (lacrosse) Chicks for Children's Guild.
After meeting with a hospital official, Patricia decided her guild would raise money to support uncompensated care for families who need financial assistance. "With the help, they can focus solely on their sick kid without the additional stress of worrying about medical bills," she said. Patricia then began organizing a camp for girls from kindergarten through sixth grade, securing equipment donations and field space, finding local business sponsors, recruiting her own lacrosse teammates to assist, and marketing the camp to parents of prospective players. After donating her camp registration fees to the hospital, Patricia conceived of another way to combine lacrosse and philanthropy: She challenged all female high school lacrosse players in Washington to find sponsors to pledge a donation every time they score a goal. Patricia's efforts have raised more than $12,000 for the hospital.
Middle Level State Honoree: Tyler Fiorino
Nominated by PRIDE Prep Charter School in Spokane
Tyler, a seventh-grader at PRIDE Prep Charter School, distributes hand and body warmers to homeless people in his community when temperatures drop below freezing. Every day on the way to school, Tyler would see homeless people on the street waking up after a cold night on the bare ground or sidewalk. "They had nothing to keep them warm," he said. "They had jeans and a coat but maybe only a thin blanket." In November, 2015, after a particularly bad storm shut down Spokane's power for a week, Tyler decided he had to do something to help these people.
Recalling the hand warmers he uses when he goes camping, Tyler decided to buy them for the homeless. To come up with the necessary money, he shoveled snow off sidewalks, did extra chores, and used his allowance. Then he and his grandmother drove the streets of his town looking for people who needed help. He says it was "scary" at first, but he persevered and ended up helping 40 to 50 men and women stay a little warmer that winter. This year, Tyler is distributing foot warmers, gloves and hats, in addition to hand and body warmers. "I would tell other people not to be afraid to help," said Tyler. "If you see someone that looks like they need help, go ahead and help them."
The program judges also recognized six other Washington students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Washington's Distinguished Finalists for 2017:
Ethan Choi, 14, of Auburn Wash., a sophomore at Academy Schools, established a collection that over the past three years has provided soldiers overseas with 116 care packages filled with books and magazines, toiletries, snacks and hand-written notes wishing them well. In addition to his care package project, which started after he read an article about soldiers needing reading material for their down time, Ethan has also volunteered 240 hours with the Northwest Harvest hunger relief agency.
Alina Guyon, 15, of Seattle, Wash., a sophomore at Holy Names Academy, led a fundraising initiative that provided supplies, books and cash for a school in India run by Apne Aap, an organization dedicated to breaking the intergenerational cycle of prostitution through education. Inspired to help Apne Aap after reading about it in the book "Half the Sky," Alina asked for its wish list and then raised the money through craft sales, fundraising and selling things on eBay; she then traveled to India and delivered the donations in person.
Aidan Ryan, 17, of Vancouver, Wash., a senior at Seton Catholic College Preparatory High School, organized and led "40 Days of Giving," a community campaign that collected 6,574 pounds of food and enough money to provide 270,000 meals to local people in need. When he saw that his little sister's classmate was living at the shelter where he was volunteering, Aidan decided to take initiative to address hunger in his local community; his campaign mobilized 266 students to support the cause.
Afeef Sheikh, 17, of Sammamish, Wash., a senior at Tesla STEM High School, founded "The Literacy Crusade," an initiative that has delivered more than 3,000 books, backpacks, desks and other items to support literacy and education for children in need around the world. Afeef's desire to help began after encountering a small homeless boy on a trip to India; he has since helped to provide educational resources to kids from refugee camps in Syria to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Zoe Sheill, 17, of Mercer Island, Wash., a junior at Mercer Island High School, started her school's "Homeless Education and Living Project (HELP)" club, an organization that has raised $3,100, donated 650 care packages and created 1,200 sack lunches for homeless people in Seattle. Zoe started the club at the start of her sophomore year to help the people she'd met during her summer volunteering at homeless shelters.
Chickadee Snow, 14, of Kenmore, Wash., a freshman at Kenmore Junior High, founded "Back to the Rez," a nonprofit that works to reconnect Native American youth and families with their tribal culture, language and traditions. Chickadee, who wondered about the story behind her Blackfeet, Ojibwe and Vietnamese roots, was inspired after attending the Gen-I conference to work with organizations, elders and professionals to help others learn about their larger community.
"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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