Bellerose and Roslyn Heights students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Dix Hills, Belle Harbor,
Sloan, Elmont, Corona, Massapequa Park, East Northport and Lynbrook
ALBANY, N.Y.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dimple Belani, 17, of Bellerose and Cole Faller, 12, of Roslyn Heights
today were named New York’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. Dimple was nominated
by Girl Scouts of Greater New York in New York, and Cole was nominated
by Roslyn Middle School in Roslyn Heights. 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).
Dimple, a senior at Bronx High School of Science, produced a series of
episodes for a public television station featuring interviews with
accomplished women to inspire young girls to pursue higher education and
their dream careers. In 2012, Dimple visited the World Association of
Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in London and learned about the United
Nations’ Millennium Development Goals, which include promoting gender
equality and empowering women. She was inspired to embark on a project
that incorporated the UN goals, one that would promote higher education
and career choices for women. “From an early age, I was encouraged by my
mother and my Girl Scout leaders to dream big and follow my heart, but
many other girls were not as fortunate,” she said. “So I firmed my
resolve to provide support to girls who could not pursue their dreams,
or who were compelled to change their goals.”
Dimple assembled a production team, including a script writer, director,
editor, and a light and sound technician, and then interviewed on camera
a different professional woman each month. They included a lawyer,
school principal, CEO, doctor, navy pilot, computer engineer and
guidance counselor. Each was asked to tell “how they were able to
overcome financial hurdles, social pressures and gender discrimination,
and pursue higher education to realize their dreams,” said Dimple. After
she oversaw the post-production process, the interviews were broadcast
on a local public TV station. Dimple, who plans to eventually pursue a
medical degree, has received requests to produce more interviews, and
said she will continue with this project well into the future.
Cole, a seventh-grader at Roslyn Middle School, helped start an annual
community-wide flag football event that has raised nearly $50,000 over
the past three years to support young people with autism. When Cole was
in fourth grade, he participated as a mentor in an after-school program
for kids with special needs, and became good friends with an autistic
boy named Luke. “Luke has autism,” Cole said at the time. “It’s okay,
autism is just a different way of thinking.” Cole wanted other kids to
appreciate the importance of embracing differences, and also wanted to
raise money for Luke’s future needs. So, with the help of his family, he
planned a small flag football game.
The idea quickly took off, and word of the event spread through the
community. On the day of the games, more than 120 youngsters showed up
at a local park to play, along with a large number of spectators, a DJ,
a tattoo artist and caterers. The event, called “Go Long for Luke,” was
so successful it’s been held twice since then, raising more money and
awareness each year for those with autism.
As State Honorees, Dimple and Cole 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 eight other New York students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are New York’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Nikhil Anand, 18, of Dix Hills, N.Y., a senior at Half Hollow
Hills High School West, co-founded “Roote Foundation,” a nonprofit
organization for which he has raised $3,300 to provide free pre-school
and after-school programs to children in low-income areas. Nikhil and
his mother, who lost their home in a fire and spent three years
struggling to regain normalcy, lived temporarily in neighborhoods where
poverty, drugs and crime were common, and Nikhil wanted to provide hope
for a better future for the children in these areas.
Ariel Creamer, 17, of Belle Harbor, N.Y., a junior at Edward R.
Murrow High School, created a Facebook page called “Survivor’s Silver
Lining” in 2013 where she posted photos and stories of people in the
Rockaway area who were affected by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.
Ariel would hear of survivors in need of certain items, post the
stories, and make arrangements to deliver items donated by those
following her page.
Kwentin Foster, 10, of Sloan, N.Y., a fifth-grader at Woodrow
Wilson Elementary School, raised $6,600 by collecting recyclable cans
and bottles, and has used the money to purchase fabric to make and
distribute more than 300 blankets for children who are ill and in need
of comfort through his project, “Kwentin’s Blankets for Sick Kids.”
Kwentin, who started the organization in 2013, distributes his blankets
to the local hospital and through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Wings
Flights of Hope, Harvest House and Ronald McDonald House.
John Iacona, 16, of Elmont, N.Y., a junior at Sewanhaka High
School, founded his school’s recycling club and raised $4,000 to benefit
local veterans with the redemption of 80,000 water bottles. John, who is
also on the board of the charity Rock Out Cures, continues to volunteer
on behalf of veterans, and has raised $4,500 by soliciting donations
from friends and family to support America’s VetDogs, an organization
that provides service dogs to veterans at no charge.
Sharon Lin, 17, of Corona, N.Y., a junior at Stuyvesant High
School, founded a high school hackathon called “StuyHacks” to foster a
love for computer programming, and raised $2,000 in sponsorships and
donations to support the event, which featured project judges from
Google and a partnership with national computer programming organization
Major League Hacking. Sharon has also created “Bit by Bit,” a weeklong
coding camp for middle school girls, and is involved in many other STEM
organizations and projects to inspire others.
Anthony Morano, 17, of Massapequa Park, N.Y., a senior at
Massapequa High School, has donated $10,000 over the past four years to
a number of charities, including the Nassau BOCES Long Island High
School for the Arts, by hosting an annual Halloween “Cemetery of Lost
Souls” event at his home. Anthony, who turned his family’s passion for
Halloween décor into a service project, has recruited a “scare team” to
perform live haunts and a team of volunteers to help with makeup,
costumes, soundtracks, props and sets.
Dylan Perles, 18, of East Northport, N.Y., a senior at Northport
High School, has raised $8,500 to benefit the Northport Food Pantry
since 2005 by hosting a neighborhood bake sale on Halloween. The bake
sale has grown over the years, and today, Dylan has a team of 35
volunteers helping with organizing the event, while she also oversees
the baking and coordinates donations and publicity.
Hailey Silver, 17, of Lynbrook, N.Y., a senior at Lynbrook High
School, helped her family raise $200,000 since 2006 when they founded
the “Fly With Me Fund,” a nonprofit organization that provides travel
grants to families with children with Fragile X syndrome who cannot
afford to travel to one of only 27 clinics that provide treatment.
Hailey, whose brother was diagnosed with Fragile X, recently spearheaded
a research study to determine how the fund can better provide for
families, and is now in charge of increasing corporate donations in 2016.
“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