Orem and Draper students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and
trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Salt Lake City, Heber,
Orem and Pleasant View
SALT LAKE CITY–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Barry Donakey, 18, of Orem and Sophia Goodwin, 13, of Draper today were
named Utah’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. Barry was nominated by Timpanogos High
School in Orem, and Sophia was nominated by Girl Scouts Of Utah in Salt
Lake City. 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).
Barry, a senior at Timpanogos High School, provides free lawn care and
yard maintenance each week to two elderly couples and two widows in his
community who are physically and financially unable to take care of
their own yards. In 2014, Barry founded a landscaping company that
served more than 50 clients in his and surrounding counties. Two of the
lawns he mowed each week, however, belonged to senior citizens who could
not afford his service. He found that he enjoyed cutting their lawns
“because of the wonderful feeling I would get as I served them,” he
said. He decided to expand his free service.
Barry estimates that he now spends about six hours a week mowing and
trimming the yards of his four pro bono clients. When necessary, he also
weeds, prunes, fertilizes, picks fruit from trees, cleans gutters, and
takes care of whatever else needs to be done. Recently, for example, he
cut down and hauled away five large spruce trees. Barry uses profits
from his commercial business to pay for the gasoline, fertilizer and
other materials needed to maintain these yards. He estimates that his
labor saves each of these households about $1,200 a year. “I never grow
tired of the time I spend in service to these elderly persons,” he said.
Sophia, an eighth-grader at Channing Hall, worked with a partner to make
hygiene and school supply bags for 38 preschoolers from low-income
families in a project they called “Supplies of Love.” A Girl Scout since
kindergarten, Sophia has participated in many community service projects
in the past. “These have helped shape me into the person I am today,”
she said. “Service to your community not only helps out others but makes
you feel good inside.”
After Sophia and her partner decided on their project, they began
researching schools that had both a preschool program and a majority of
students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunches. They then drew
up a plan, recruited a mentor to help them, raised money, and shopped
for items to promote good hygiene and supplies that would help the
youngsters be more successful in school. “I love seeing how small
amounts of work can make a big improvement in our community,” said
Sophia. “It makes my heart feel all warm and fuzzy.”
As State Honorees, Barry and Sophia 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 four other Utah students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service
activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Utah’s Distinguished Finalists for 2016:
Allison Baxter, 17, of Salt Lake City, Utah, a senior at Skyline
High School, worked with her school’s administrators and local law
enforcement to start her school’s chapter of Backyard Broadcast, a
movement led by young people to raise awareness about and reduce sex
trafficking. Allison, who founded the chapter as a sophomore, recruited
fellow students and sponsored an awareness campaign during National Sex
Trafficking Awareness Month that included a showing of the movie “Taken”
and a presentation by the Attorney General’s special task force.
Wayson Foy, 18, of Heber, Utah, a senior at Wasatch High School,
has raised $5,000 to benefit the American Cancer Society since 2004 by
collecting and recycling aluminum cans in an effort to help in some way
after a family friend died from leukemia. Wayson runs the program with
his brother and their family, and today many residents and businesses
around town donate their cans, while a local recycling plant offers 25
cents more per pound because the money goes to charity.
Kelsey Hull, 18, of Orem, Utah, a senior at Orem High School, has
been a passionate advocate for those who are homeless since she was a
freshman, and collected toys and money to benefit children affected by
Hurricane Sandy in the New York area. Since then, she has collected
clothing and distributed it to shelters throughout Utah, and has also
become a vice president in her school’s FCCLA club, where she works on a
number of other service projects.
Haeli Rich, 17, of Pleasant View, Utah, a senior at Weber High
School, helped to launch and currently serves as the co-president of the
Weekend Warrior Food Pack Program at her school, which has raised $9,000
and tens of thousands of food products to prepare weekend food packages
for 85 children attending local elementary schools. Haeli and a team of
youth volunteers prepare the packages quarterly with granola bars, fruit
cups, peanut butter, oatmeal, shelf-stable milk and ramen noodles, and
school counselors distribute them discreetly to students in need.
“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