Daniels and Fayetteville students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Morgantown
CHARLESTON, W.Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Sofia Salon, 16, of Daniels and Arin Dorsey, 13, of Fayetteville today
were named West Virginia’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. Sofia was nominated
by Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley, and Arin was nominated by Girl
Scouts of Black Diamond in Charleston. 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).
Sofia, a sophomore at Woodrow Wilson High School, organized a 16-hour
rocking chair “rock-a-thon” on June 20, 2015, that drew considerable
attention in southern West Virginia to the battle against Alzheimer’s
disease and raised more than $17,000 for Alzheimer’s research and care.
“After watching my grandma having struggles being a caregiver for my
grandfather, I was motivated and determined to do something to make a
difference for families coping with Alzheimer’s,” said Sofia. She heard
that the Alzheimer’s Association promoted various kinds of fundraising
activities across the country each year on the summer solstice, and
decided she would take part in “The Longest Day” event by creating a
Sofia persuaded the Raleigh County Commission on Aging to help with her
event and lend its facilities. Then she invited teams from across
southern West Virginia to raise money and participate in the
rock-a-thon. From 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on June 20, the teams and other
participants rocked in rocking chairs, danced, sang karaoke, played
games, and bid in a silent auction. “The most memorable part was when my
grandpa sang karaoke, after dancing with my grandma twice,” said Sofia.
When it was all over, she had collected $17,258 to fund Alzheimer’s
research at West Virginia University and to support caregivers and
medical workers in her state, making her one of the nation’s top 10
“Longest Day” fundraisers for 2015.
Arin, an eighth-grader at Fayetteville High School, organized a “Milk
and Cookies with Santa” event to entertain local children and solicit
donations of toys and money for the homeless. Arin became interested in
homelessness after meeting a fellow Girl Scout who was homeless at one
time. She began to research the subject, and contacted the administrator
of a local homeless shelter to learn more about the needs of its
clients. Then Arin asked her Girl Scout council to help her hold a
holiday event that not only would delight local youngsters, but also
collect donations to brighten the season for homeless people.
Arin distributed invitations through schools to 800 children, secured
space from a local church, arranged for donated cookies and decorations,
and recruited a Santa Claus and other adults to help manage her event.
Afterwards, Arin gathered all of the donations, assembled “care
packages” of food and toys, and delivered them to the 130 residents of
the Pinehaven Homeless Shelter. “At this point, I learned how donations
and giving help reduce their feelings of loneliness and abandonment,”
As State Honorees, Sofia and Arin 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 West Virginia students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are West Virginia’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Olivia Haddad, 18, of Morgantown, W.Va., a senior at University
High School, has been an avid volunteer since 2011 for Christian Help, a
nonprofit organization that provides food, clothing and other support
for families and individuals in need. Over the years, Olivia helped to
unpack, ship and organize items and assist at special events, and today
she has a leadership role in the Women’s Career Closet at the center,
helping women find business clothes and shoes for interviews.
Roark Sizemore, 17, of Morgantown, W.Va., a senior at Morgantown
High School, raised $13,300 to benefit the Children’s Hospital of West
Virginia by conceiving and implementing a danceathon at his school.
Roark, who is a volunteer at the hospital where he reads to young
patients, recruited his high school service club to help coordinate the
event, secured the National Guard Armory as a location for the dance,
and partnered with the Children’s Miracle Network for the event.
“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