Queen Creek and Tempe students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Paradise Valley,
Tolleson, Bisbee, Tucson, Flagstaff and Phoenix
PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Dustyn Phillips, 17, of Queen Creek and Hope Weng, 13, of Tempe today
were named Arizona’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. Dustyn was nominated by Basha High
School in Chandler, and Hope was nominated by Tempe Preparatory Academy
in Tempe. 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).
Dustyn, a senior at Basha High School, began conducting a wide variety
of volunteer projects 11 years ago to benefit kids and families both in
the U.S. and overseas. A TV commercial for St. Jude Children’s Research
Hospital that Dustyn saw as a child made a lasting impression. “I was
overtaken by a yearning to help,” he said. He began fundraising for the
Memphis hospital, and then used his birthday parties to collect toys and
money both for St. Jude’s and for an orphanage in Kenya.
Dustyn’s volunteer activities, which he calls “Dustyn’s Kids Helping
Kids” (or “DKHK”), expanded significantly three years ago when he formed
a chapter at his high school. All together, more than 200 young people
in three states now participate in projects organized by Dustyn and
fellow students. They have collected backpacks and school supplies for
immigrant boys, promoted literacy through book drives, volunteered at
Special Olympics events, donated soccer uniforms to kids in Brazil, and
raised money to provide low-income families with gifts and essential
items at Christmastime. “I hope that later in life I am able to share
this love for helping others, as well as the humility and wisdom I have
gained,” said Dustyn.
Hope, an eighth-grader at Tempe Preparatory Academy, delivered 100 care
packages containing cookies, thank-you cards and a self-penned essay to
residents of a veterans home to honor their service. Hope said she never
recognized the importance of American veterans until she was assigned to
write an essay on the subject and then met a vet at a local VFW post.
Afterwards, she said, “I felt that I needed to do something to honor our
Hope started by creating a budget to buy enough Girl Scout cookies and
thank-you cards for 100 care packages. Then she set about gathering the
necessary funds by selling cookies herself, hosting a garage sale,
winning a writing contest, saving her Chinese New Year gift money, and
soliciting donations. She asked individuals of all ages to fill her
thank-you cards with messages of gratitude to emphasize to the
recipients that “all of our servicemen and women’s hard work and
sacrifices are valued and remembered,” she said. When she delivered her
packages to the Arizona State Veterans Home, Hope brought along a group
of friends who had helped her with her project, all dressed as
“Minions.” “The visit was a huge success for everyone,” said Hope.
As State Honorees, Dustyn and Hope 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 six other Arizona students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Arizona’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Phillip Glascock, 16, of Paradise Valley, Ariz., a sophomore at
Phoenix Country Day School, founded a service club at his school called
“Involve Now,” for which he and the club members organize numerous
projects to benefit homeless children from a local school. Phillip, who
previously supported the children with book and sports equipment drives,
has recently raised $3,000 to provide bottled water for the school and
to plant six large vegetable gardens.
Kaitlyn Martinez, 12, of Tolleson, Ariz., an eighth-grader at
SySTEM Phoenix, STEM Charter School, has collected backpacks filled with
school supplies for all 175 students at her school through her project
called “Backpacks for Kids AZ.” Kaitlyn, who started the program when
she realized many of her fellow students could not provide school
supplies for themselves, recruited friends to help promote the program,
as well as set up and collect collection boxes.
Kikey Pena, 17, of Bisbee, Ariz., a senior at Bisbee High School,
has spent the past three years mentoring and tutoring children from
pre-school through fourth grade at Naco Elementary School. Kikey, who
wanted to help children who struggle as she once did with understanding
the English language, often also acts as an interpreter, and assists
with art activities and with other tasks as needed.
Lourdes Gomez, 17, of Tucson, Ariz., a junior at Desert View High
School, served her church for eight years as an altar server. In
addition, Lourdes became a leader who helped to train and prepare other
youth for their jobs as altar servers.
Ariana Schneider, 18, of Flagstaff, Ariz., a senior at Northland
Preparatory Academy, led a composting awareness campaign, and helped to
develop, build and secure funding for a functional composting water
catchment system for the Flagstaff Federated Church and the local Head
Start program. Ariana led town hall meetings, wrote articles, applied
for grants and secured a team to build the system, and is confident her
efforts will encourage others in the community to compost as well.
Allison Westra, 18, of Phoenix, Ariz., a senior at Xavier College
Preparatory, founded “Gators Giving Back” in 2013, a school-based
service program that has provided more than 500 textbooks to students at
the school attending on scholarship. Allison, who is the president of
the club, recruits members, meets with faculty, and organizes textbook
drives, which have helped to offset $25,000 of scholarship funds
originally needed to provide the books to those students.
“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