Michigan’s top two youth volunteers of 2018, Alyssa Ewell, 18, of Canton and Abigail Diuble, 13, of Manchester, were honored April 29 in Washington, D.C., for their outstanding volunteer service during the 23rd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Alyssa and Abigail – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – each received a $1,000 award and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, named Alyssa and Abigail Michigan’s top high school and middle school youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
Alyssa, a senior at Canton High School, was student coordinator of her school district’s Relay for Life last year, which raised $30,000 for the American Cancer Society. With her grandmother battling pancreatic cancer, Alyssa had a very personal reason to assume this leadership role when a teacher asked her to take the job. “She had seen my work last year raising $12,000 to grant a wish for a young girl through the Make-A-Wish Foundation,” Alyssa said. “She exhorted me to become a general in the war against cancer.”
After meeting with Michigan’s Relay for Life coordinator to set up a plan, Alyssa recruited students to help and began delegating tasks. She took steps to involve more than 20 schools in her school district, made fliers to get the word out to the community, assembled resource kits to help her leadership team of students coordinate activities during the event, and held an “advertising” day to pitch the project to potential donors and sponsors in the business community. In addition to running the actual relay walk, Alyssa and her team planned a Spirit Week at her school, trick-or-treating for little kids, a faculty “kiss the pig” fundraiser, a lip-sync competition, a cancer survivor walk, a raffle, and a luminaria ceremony. “While a considerable amount of money was raised, the most rewarding part of this experience was learning I could be a catalyst for action,” Alyssa said.
“These honorees exemplify something we’ve known for a long time – that young volunteers have the power to bring meaningful change to their communities,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “These students have shown leadership and determination well beyond their years, and it’s a privilege to celebrate their service.”
Youth volunteers in grades 5-12 were invited to apply for 2018 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network. More than 29,000 middle school and high school students nationwide participated in this year’s program.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service. In the past 23 years, the program has honored more than 120,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
For more information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year’s honorees, go to http://spirit.prudential.com or www.nassp.org/spirit.
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