South Burlington and Barre students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Williston and Montpelier
MONTPELIER, Vt.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Kiran Waqar, 15, of South Burlington and Miranda Walbridge, 12, of Barre
today were named Vermont’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. Kiran was nominated
by South Burlington High School in South Burlington, and Miranda was
nominated by Barre City Elementary and Middle School in Barre. 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).
Kiran, a sophomore at South Burlington High School, organized a project
to make gift bags for hospitalized children in her community. For the
past two years, Kiran has been an active volunteer, instructing the
elderly in the use of technology, packaging food for children in Africa,
and most recently helping to collect blankets and warm clothing for
Syrian refugees. But she wanted to do something to help sick children in
her area. “Children have the right to have fun and be happy, even if it
may be from a hospital bed,” Kiran said. So she decided that she would
fill gift bags with crayons, activity books, notebooks, stuffed animals,
stickers and cards to help sick children pass the time while in the
She began by going from store to store to ask for donations to put in
her gift bags. She received $390 worth of items and then recruited a
team of volunteers to take on babysitting jobs and donate their earnings
to her cause, raising another $300 to help fill her bags with
gender-neutral toys. Then she wrote messages to include in each bag. Her
project produced enough bags to give 50 kids “something to smile about,”
Miranda, a seventh-grader at Barre City Elementary and Middle School,
volunteers in a variety of ways to make her community a better place to
live, including working with athletes with special needs, preparing
meals for senior citizens, spreading holiday cheer at a nursing home,
collecting food for a food bank and wrapping gifts for children in need.
“My family has always instilled in me the value of helping others less
fortunate, so when the opportunities to help have come up over the
years, I have jumped at the chance to make a difference,” Miranda said.
After seeing a flier about the Special Olympics United Sports program,
Miranda became a buddy partner to an athlete with disabilities. Even
though she had never tried the sport, she served on a snowshoe team and
had so much fun and made so many friends that she later volunteered for
the bocce team as well, and continues to be a buddy in both sports. “I
enjoy seeing the looks of accomplishment on the athletes’ faces when
they get the medal or ribbons,” she said. After going with her
grandfather to deliver meals to seniors, Miranda decided she wanted to
volunteer at the senior center, too, and has learned to prepare, package
and keep track of meals delivered to the elderly. In addition, Miranda
has joined her Girl Scout troop in entertaining residents of a local
nursing home, gathering supplies for a food bank and wrapping donated
gifts for less fortunate kids in her area.
As State Honorees, Kiran and Miranda 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 Vermont students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Vermont’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Katherine Dempsey, 16, of Williston, Vt., a member of the Girl
Scouts of the Green and White Mountains and a junior at Champlain Valley
Union High School, served as a counselor at the summer sailing camp for
the Community Sailing Center, and created lesson plans teaching campers
about the ecology of Lake Champlain. Katherine created the project to
combine her love of sailing with her love of science.
Ivan Jermyn, 18, of Montpelier, Vt., a senior at Montpelier High
School, has been a member of the nonprofit youth circus travelling tour
Circus Smirkus since 2013, after attending the summer circus camp for
many years before that. Circus Smirkus shows are hosted by charitable
organizations throughout New England as a fundraiser and, in donating
his time to perform, Ivan has helped those organizations to collectively
“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