Honolulu and Mililani students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Lihue and Mt. View
HONOLULU–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Anna Kimata, 15, of Honolulu and Orren Smith, 11, of Mililani today were
named Hawaii’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. Anna was nominated by Punahou School
in Honolulu, and Orren was nominated by Hanalani Schools in Mililani.
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).
Anna, a sophomore at Punahou School, organized a project to collect
books and other educational materials for schools in the small island
nation of Palau, where many students lack basic educational resources.
From a very young age, Anna’s parents taught her the importance of
learning and have sacrificed time and money to send her to an excellent
school. “In the United States, every child is gifted with the chance to
attend school, no matter where they live,” Anna said. But when she
interned at the state capitol, she learned that in many small countries,
schools lack the basic educational resources that Americans take for
granted. Anna said she needed to do something to help students at those
schools “cultivate their love of learning and give them the knowledge to
pursue their dreams.”
After researching small countries in the Pacific, Anna decided to focus
her efforts on Palau, located in Micronesia. She began by meeting with
the country’s president to discuss its educational needs. Then she wrote
letters to request donations, met with leaders of organizations that
could help, and recruited 40 volunteers. When donations began coming in,
Anna and her team sorted through the materials to make sure everything
was in good condition. She then partnered with two companies that agreed
to transport the items. Due to logistical issues, the first shipment was
sent to Saipan – a neighboring island that had been affected by Typhoon
Soudelor – with the understanding that future shipments would be sent to
Palau. To date, Anna’s efforts have gathered more than $4,000 worth of
educational supplies for the students of Pacific Island countries. “I
hope to continue this project in the future so that I can pay forward
the gift of education,” she said.
Orren, a sixth-grader at Hanalani Schools, arranged for a presentation
on disaster preparedness at his school to educate students and their
families on how to increase their chances of surviving a natural
catastrophe. “I live in Hawaii, and we are at risk of many natural
disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes and hurricanes,” said Orren.
Last year, he said, was an especially bad one for hurricanes, and it got
him thinking that a lot of people have no idea how to prepare for a
weather emergency. “I think it is important for residents of Hawaii
because our state is isolated and it could take a while for help to
reach us,” he said.
Orren began by researching state guidelines on ways to prepare for
various natural disasters. He then contacted agencies involved in
emergency planning to get more information, obtained permission from
school officials to hold a student assembly, and invited a Coast Guard
officer to be a guest speaker. Orren then prepared materials for the
speaker to use in the presentation and handouts for the students to take
home. More than 150 students attended the presentation and learned the
importance of early planning and ways to help their families stay safe
in the event of a natural disaster.
As State Honorees, Anna and Orren 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 Hawaii students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Hawaii’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Britnee Akau, 15, of Lihue, Hawaii, a sophomore at Kamehameha
Schools Kapalama, is an avid volunteer involved in numerous service
projects, and recently collected and distributed 101 books about Hawaii
through her “Gift of Aloha Book Drive.” In addition, Britnee helped
combat bullying with presentations to second graders where she shared
her personal experiences as a bullying victim.
Phillip Palmore, 17, of Mt. View, Hawaii, a senior at Kea’au High
School, has designed and led a project to build an ADA compliant outdoor
walkway and garden for residents of the Hilo Medical Center Extended
Care Facility. Phillip, who began the project in 2013, worked with
architects to ensure his design was in compliance for wheelchair use,
recruited sponsors and volunteers, and secured funds to support the
“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