Kentucky’s Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 21st Annual National Awards Program

Lexington and Louisville students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Louisville,
Pleasureville, Bowling Green and Harlan

FRANKFORT, Ky.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Christian Cole, 18, of Lexington and Grace Davis, 10, of Louisville
today were named Kentucky’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. Christian was
nominated by Lexington Catholic High School in Lexington, and Grace was
nominated by Greathouse Shryock Traditional Elementary School in
Louisville. 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).

Christian, a senior at Lexington Catholic High School, has raised more
than $35,000 from a landscape business he started as a seventh-grader
and from private donations to build houses for destitute people in Haiti
and sponsor 20 homeless children there. When Christian was 13, his life
changed with the arrival of a Haitian boy named Odolphe, who had come to
Lexington for medical treatment. It wasn’t long before the boys were
inseparable. But four months later, it was time for Christian’s friend
to go back to Haiti. “As I walked Odolphe to the plane, my heart began
to shatter,” said Christian. “He was going to leave the warmth of an
American home, soft bed and plenty of food to go home to an 8 by 8
tarp-covered concrete slab that he shared with six family members.”
Christian made a promise to his friend that day that he would go to
Haiti and build a home for Odolphe and his family. That was the day he
decided to start his landscape business, which he calls “Mission Works
Lawn and Landscaping.”

Eighteen months later, Christian, accompanied by his dad and four other
adults, was able to make good on his promise. Assisted by charitable
organizations in Haiti, Christian’s group not only built a house for
Odolphe’s family, but brought much-needed supplies, refurbished a large
chicken barn for their community and stocked it with 200 chickens, and
educated people on water safety and nutrition. Christian also was able
to sponsor 20 children, getting them off the streets and providing them
with school tuition, books, and uniforms. The following year he returned
to begin another house and check on the progress of the students he
continues to sponsor. “This began not so much as a service project but
maybe what one would call one random act of love,” Christian said.

Grace, a fifth-grader at Greathouse Shryock Traditional Elementary
School, has raised more than $140,000 over the past four years to care
for babies born prematurely by distributing piggy banks to students in
her community and encouraging them to fill them up. One day Grace had an
idea. She saw a piggy bank in someone’s home and a child feeding it
stray change until it was full. What if every child in her school filled
a piggy bank for a good cause, she thought. “As a kid, it is hard to
think about raising money, but I knew this idea would take off,” said

She took her idea, called “Piggies for Preemies,” to officials at Kosair
Children’s Hospital, whose neonatal unit would be the beneficiary of the
program. A local bank agreed to donate 604 piggy banks, one for every
student in Grace’s school, and as an incentive for filling those banks,
offered a chance to win a $500 scholarship. The students were encouraged
to think of creative ways to raise money, said Grace. Some had yard
sales, some sold baked goods, others operated lemonade stands. Grace
created fliers to advertise the program throughout the community and the
bank provided piggy banks at all of its Louisville branches to anyone
who wanted one. The media and the hospital’s website further spread the
word, and it wasn’t long before students at other schools in her
district and beyond began filling piggy banks. The program continues to
grow; Grace’s banking partner has announced it will distribute piggies
at branches across the state. “It is so exciting to see piggies all
around our city raising money and awareness for all preemies,” said
Grace. “People just love these pigs!”

As State Honorees, Christian and Grace 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.

Distinguished Finalists

The program judges also recognized four other Kentucky students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Kentucky’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Olivia Allen, 10, of Louisville, Ky., a fifth-grader at
Coleridge-Taylor Montessori Elementary School, is an avid volunteer who
conducted three projects in 2015, including a toy drive that collected
100 toys for children at Kosair Charities and a food drive that yielded
enough food to feed 20 children for one weekend through the Backpack
Buddy Program at First Choice Food Market. Olivia’s third project was
the first annual “‘I Can Be’ Girls Confidence Conference,” a free
workshop for 55 local girls who heard from guest speakers on topics
including confidence, entrepreneurship and personal care.

Jakob Beckley, 17, of Pleasureville, Ky., a senior at Henry
County High School, has spent the past two years actively volunteering
to revitalize his small town, including reviving the once-popular annual
“Pleasureville Day” and the community parade. In addition, Jakob has
been elected to the newly created Pleasureville Economic Development
Council, for which he has helped to organize a farmer’s market and has
helped to write and secure $20,000 in grants to bring business back to
the town.

Maiah Cisco, 13, of Bowling Green, Ky., an eighth-grader at
Drakes Creek Middle School, got together with her younger brother to
create “5 Musketoes,” an organization for which she has collected $1,700
to provide 65 children with bags filled with new shoes, new underwear,
new socks and toiletries, and also provide them with free haircuts –
things that cannot be purchased with food stamps. Maiah, who started the
project when she noticed that many children do not have a decent pair of
shoes to wear, raised the funds through sponsorships and a GoFundMe
site, and convinced her hair salon to open on its off-day to provide the
free haircuts.

Kaitlin Jenkins, 17, of Harlan, Ky., a senior at Harlan High
School, founded the Harlan County chapter of “DanceBlue,” an
organization started at the University of Kentucky, and raised $4,240 to
fight pediatric cancer by hosting a number of fundraising events,
including the “Flush Away Pediatric Cancer” event that involved placing
yellow toilets on residents’ lawns and encouraging donations to remove
the toilets. Kaitlin worked with two close friends on all the details of
the events that culminated in the six-hour “DanceBlue” marathon.

“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.

For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community
State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit


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

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

Editors: For full-color pictures of the Spirit of Community Awards
program logo and medallions, click here:


Prudential Financial
Harold Banks, (973) 802-8974 or (973) 216-4833