Anchorage and Palmer students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions
and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Wasilla and Nikiski
JUNEAU, Alaska–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Jenevia Wika, 16, of Anchorage and Isabella Weiss, 14, of Palmer today
were named Alaska’s top two youth volunteers of 2016 by The Prudential
Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people
for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Jenevia was nominated by South
Anchorage High School in Anchorage, and Isabella was nominated by Colony
Middle School in Palmer. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now
in its 21st year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership
with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Jenevia, a junior at South Anchorage High School, has helped collect and
donate more than 13,000 pairs of jeans for homeless teens in Alaska.
Three years ago, Jenevia and her older sister heard about
DoSomething.org’s “Teens for Jeans” initiative and, after learning that
teen homelessness is a big problem everywhere, knew they wanted to get
involved. “One in three homeless are under the age of 15 years old,”
said Jenevia. “I felt it was important to pay it forward and give back
to our Alaskan community while inspiring others to do the same.” Two
years after the onset of their project, her older sister went off to
college and Jenevia took the reins.
This year, to accomplish her goal of helping homeless teens, Jenevia
announced her campaign in an article in her church’s bulletin, created
posters and fliers promoting the drive, and met with peers, her student
council, church groups and business owners to raise awareness of teen
homelessness. She then placed collection boxes around the community.
After the drive was over, she collected the jeans, brought them home to
sort, and delivered them to Covenant House, which provides services for
homeless young people. Jenevia is especially proud that she collected
6,569 pairs of jeans this year, substantially more than in both previous
years and the second-highest total in Do Something’s national campaign.
“The most memorable part was having thousands of jeans piled up
throughout the house,” she said. “I could not help but smile and feel
great about the positive difference I was going to make in so many
Isabella, an eighth-grader at Colony Middle School, interviewed 19
residents of a local senior center to record the memorable experiences
of their lives, and also arranged a “movie night” at the center.
Isabella and her family began volunteering in the cafeteria of the
senior center three years ago, and got to know a remarkable 92-year-old
woman there. Isabella visited her regularly to keep her company, and
ended up helping her make Christmas gifts for local children. “She
showed me the joy of helping the elderly,” said Isabella. So when
Isabella was looking for a service project to prepare for her bat
mitzvah, she knew she wanted to do something to help the seniors at the
center. “I wanted to connect with these seniors, let them know somebody
cared, and provide them with an opportunity to share their wisdom,”
After meeting with the center’s management to figure out what she could
do, Isabella began meeting with residents and recording them as they
shared their memories and wisdom. “They made me laugh, they made me cry,
and they really made me think about life,” she said. Isabella then
transcribed and edited the stories into typed documents, and began
planning a movie night to bring a little fun to the center. In addition
to screening “Singing in the Rain,” Isabella served homemade treats,
gave a speech, and read two of the stories she recorded. Now, each
month, one of her 19 stories will be featured in the senior center’s
newsletter for all to read.
As State Honorees, Jenevia and Isabella 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 2016.
The program judges also recognized two other Alaska students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Alaska’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Samuel Allred, 16, of Wasilla, Alaska, a home-schooled junior,
has created more than 250 travel packs filled with donated items for
children receiving travel wishes from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, an
organization that granted Samuel a wish in 2011. In addition to making
the drawstring travel bags since 2014, Samuel has recruited others to
help with the project and promoted the organization through media
interviews, attending events, and supporting its fundraising efforts.
Evangeline Cox, 18, of Nikiski, Alaska, a senior at Nikiski
Middle/High School, raised nearly $1,600 by hosting numerous bake sales,
and used the funds to purchase 21 pet oxygen mask kits for the Nikiski
and Kenai Fire Departments to use during pet rescues. Evangeline, who
worked on this project with her cousin, chose this program when she
found out that her local fire department did not have pet oxygen masks.
“Prudential commends each of these young volunteers for using their
creativity and compassion to bring positive change to their
communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope
their stories inspire others to consider how they can make a difference,
“We are pleased to honor these students not only for their exemplary
acts of service, but for the powerful example they’ve set for their
peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP.
“Congratulations to each of the 2016 honorees.”
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
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 2, 10 of the State Honorees –
five middle level and five high school students – will be named
America’s top youth volunteers of 2016. 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 on behalf of President Barack Obama.
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 and 35 countries around the world. 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.
Editors: For full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards
program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW
Harold Banks, (973) 802-8974 or (973) 216-4833