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

Portland and Lake Oswego students earn $1,000 awards, engraved
medallions and trip to nation’s capital

Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Lake Oswego, Gold Hill,
Ashland and Beaverton

SALEM, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Alisha Zhao, 17, of Portland and Michael Murray, 13, of Lake Oswego
today were named Oregon’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. Alisha was nominated
by Lincoln High School in Portland, and Michael was nominated by Lake
Oswego Junior High School in Lake Oswego. 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).

Alisha, a junior at Lincoln High School, created a club at her school to
provide services to local homeless people, and then founded a nonprofit
organization called “Kids First Project” to expand her efforts and focus
on the needs of homeless youth. While volunteering at a homeless shelter
several years ago, Alisha realized that the families there were not
getting the help they needed to escape the generational cycle of
poverty. “I met youth who were capable of becoming doctors, dancers, and
even presidents, yet did not have the resources to achieve their
dreams,” she said. It quickly became a passion of hers to help supply
those resources.

As a freshman, Alisha started the Hope for Homeless Club, which, over
the following two years grew to include more than 300 members and
conducted projects serving 500 families and an additional 200
individuals. Then, Alisha decided to form a nonprofit that could deliver
educational and recreational programs to homeless youth through multiple
organizations and shelters. She recruited an advisory board, a board of
directors and volunteer leaders, and began organizing activities to help
homeless kids reach their potential, including arts and crafts projects,
games, tutoring, peer mentoring, life skills classes and donations of
school supplies. In recognition of her leadership, Alisha was appointed
by Portland’s mayor to be the first young person to ever serve on the
city’s Human Rights Commission.

Michael, an eighth-grader at Lake Oswego Junior High School, started a
club at his school that has collected enough food and money over the
past few years to provide an estimated 10,000 meals to hungry Oregon
families. “It became clear to me that I should focus on hunger when I
learned how many people in my community do not have access to food,”
said Michael. In 2013, he worked with his principal and one of his
teachers to get his club off the ground, then advertised for members.

A core group of about 15 students now participate in Michael’s “Hunger
Fighters Oregon” club on a regular basis, meeting weekly to talk about
how best to collect donations. At first, the members knocked on doors in
their neighborhoods, but then began to conduct collection drives at
their school. They also sell T-shirts that say “I won’t stand for
hunger.” To further educate his fellow students about hunger, Michael
delivered a 15-minute speech and a PowerPoint presentation at an
assembly for each grade at his school, speaking directly to more than
900 middle-schoolers. All of the donations gathered by his club go to
the Oregon Food Bank, which distributes them to food kitchens across the
state. “I will never be able to know exactly how many people I helped
directly,” said Michael, “but if all of this helped one person who was
hungry, then I accomplished what I set out to do.”

As State Honorees, Alisha and Michael 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 Oregon students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.

These are Oregon’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:

Kate Fayloga, 16, of Lake Oswego, Ore., a member of the Girl
Scouts of Oregon & Southwest Washington and a junior at Lake Oswego
Senior High School, created a program at Tryon Creek State Park called
“Discovering the Park Through Science” that featured a series of earth
science stations manned by trained teen volunteers along the trails at
the park. Kate, a park enthusiast who wanted to spread her enthusiasm to
others, worked with science teachers and park rangers to create visual
displays and experiments that include testing creek water, studying
sediment samples and learning how rocks are formed.

Hannah Joseph, 14, of Gold Hill, Ore., an eighth-grader at Hanby
Middle School, has raised $18,000 over the past five years with her
organization “Hugs from Heaven,” which provides clothes, supplies and
toys for infants in the neonatal intensive care unit at Rogue Regional
Medical Center. Hannah started with small fundraising parties and today
coordinates an annual golf classic with a team of dedicated volunteers
to bring in the funds, which altogether have provided more than 100 gift
bags for the hospitalized infants.

Dominic Meads, 18, of Ashland, Ore., a senior at Ashland High
School, is an advocate for environmental sustainability who has interned
with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to help relocate young
steelhead trout, and has researched the effects of forest fires on local
salmon. Dominic, who is the founder of his school’s fishing club, has
also volunteered with the annual Bear Creek Salmon Festival by planting
trees along the river beds to keep the water cool for salmon in the
infant stage of development.

Delanie Strauss, 16, of Beaverton, Ore., a junior at Central
Catholic High School, founded “Mac Attack,” a project for which she has
collected and donated 18,022 pounds of macaroni and cheese boxes for the
emergency food supply of local charity The Sunshine Division. Delanie,
who came up with the program in 2011 after volunteering for the charity,
contacts school principals each year to encourage their participation,
and coordinates and promotes the program, which is now the emergency
food program’s sole supplier of macaroni and cheese.

“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 http://spirit.prudential.com
or www.nassp.org/spirit.


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:


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