Devils Tower and Gillette students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Green River and Hudson
CHEYENNE, Wyo.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Grace Anderson, 15, of Devils Tower and Selah Jordan, 14, of Gillette
today were named Wyoming’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. Grace was nominated
by Crook County 4-H in Sundance, and Selah was nominated by Sage Valley
Junior High in Gillette. 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).
Grace, a sophomore at Niobrara County High School, recruited school
classmates, fellow 4-Hers and state FCCLA members to fill 600 shoeboxes
with gifts for children in third-world countries, war zones and areas
hit by natural disasters. For over a decade, Grace has helped her family
prepare gift-filled shoeboxes for children in need as part of Operation
Christmas Child (OCC), a program run by an international relief
organization called Samaritan’s Purse. “I am passionate about helping
children,” she said. “I took for granted that others knew about OCC
shoeboxes, but when I talked to people I was surprised to learn many had
never heard about them before.”
Grace decided she needed to make others aware of how they could help. To
educate fellow students about the project, she organized a school
assembly featuring a skit she wrote, then distributed a list of
suggested gift items and invited all attendees to a “packing party.”
Grace also sought help from county 4-H clubs through a presentation and
a newsletter, and started getting assistance and donations from
community members after a newspaper published a story on her project. In
addition, Grace held a packing party for delegates at a state FCCLA
conference last fall, which filled 368 shoeboxes. The boxes, containing
toys, school supplies, hygiene items and crafts, not only show desperate
children that someone cares about them, but also help people understand
what life is like in places where many kids have never received a gift,
Selah, an eighth-grader at Sage Valley Junior High, helps her family
conduct church services once a month at a local nursing home, and spends
time with the residents afterward to keep them company. Selah used to
visit her grandmother at the nursing home, and was always struck by how
much other residents, too, brightened up and made her feel welcome.
“Their faces would literally light up,” she said. “It really hurt my
heart to see how lonely they are and eager to have visitors.” So when
Selah’s family volunteered to hold worship services at the facility, she
definitely wanted to help.
“At first, I was very shy and scared,” she said. But she quickly warmed
up to her role of spreading the gospel, choosing hymns to sing and
lending her voice to musical numbers. When the service is over, Selah
visits with the attendees. “I enjoy hearing their stories,” she said.
“They are so sweet. Whenever I go, I feel like I’m part of their family.
I love to brighten someone’s day with a helping hand and a smile.”
As State Honorees, Grace and Selah 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 Wyoming students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Wyoming’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Anna Harris, 16, of Green River, Wyo., a senior at Green River
High School, reaches out to university athletic programs throughout the
country about the dangers of not reporting concussions through the
nonprofit organization she founded, “Concussions THiNC (There Is No
Cure).” Anna, whose brother has a traumatic brain injury, has also
raised $22,000 with her “HOPE FOR ERIC” campaign that has gone to
support the medical needs of someone else who recently sustained a brain
injury, and her “PLAY YOUR HAND” campaign that makes and distributes
apparatuses to help brain injured stroke victims.
Joshua Rohrbacher, 17, of Hudson, Wyo., a senior at Lander Valley
High School, has been volunteering with the Lander Kiwanis since 2010,
and has helped them to raise $35,000 each year by assisting them with
their various fundraising events. In addition, Joshua volunteers to
place flags throughout town during Memorial Day for the Hudson Veterans
of Foreign Wars, and he has donated $100 to the Lander Food Bank.
“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