AUGUSTA, Maine, Feb. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Lillian Sherburne, 17, of Boothbay and Blakely Austin, 14, of Brunswick today were named Maine’s top two youth volunteers of 2018 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. As State Honorees, Lillian and Blakely each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April 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 2018.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards logo

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

These are Maine’s top youth volunteers of 2018:

High School State Honoree: Lillian Sherburne
Nominated by Boothbay Region High School in Boothbay Harbor

Lillian, a senior at Boothbay Region High School, is now president of her school’s Student Health Advisory Board after playing a leading role for several years in board initiatives that promote healthy and safe lifestyles for students. As the youngest child and only girl in her family, Lilly said she was always trying to get her voice heard. But then she entered seventh grade and joined the Student Health Advisory Board (SHAB). “I had been searching for a place where I would feel heard, where I could learn to lead, and this group was exactly what I’d been looking for.”

Lilly started by attending weekly meetings and leadership conferences, where she helped brainstorm projects that could make her community a healthier place. Over the years, she has worked on many different health and wellness initiatives dealing with topics such as domestic violence, substance abuse, nutrition, gender equality and sexually transmitted diseases. Her most significant project was the production of an award-winning public service announcement designed to educate classmates about the dangers of smoking. Lilly and fellow board members researched the topic and then spent more than 200 hours scripting, filming and editing the PSA, which has now been seen by young people across Maine. “My work with SHAB has fostered my love of advocacy and volunteerism, showing me that my voice matters and that I am able to create change not only in my life but in others’ lives as well,” said Lilly.     

Middle Level State Honoree: Blakely Austin
Nominated by Brunswick Junior High School in Brunswick

Blakely, an eighth-grader at Brunswick Junior High School, has performed a wide variety of volunteer roles – totaling over 1,200 hours – for a local animal shelter over the past six years, including fostering more than 75 sick and abandoned cats in her home. “For as long as I can remember, I have loved animals,” said Blakely. At 8 years old, she found a way to live her passion in a big way – at the Coastal Humane Society Animal Shelter in Brunswick. 

Over the years, Blakely has worked at the shelter’s pet adoption events at local stores, attended community events to promote the shelter, raised more than $500 for shelter expenses, served as a counselor at the shelter’s summer camp, and dressed up as a dog mascot for birthday parties at the shelter. Her favorite activity and greatest inspiration is fostering cats with medical needs in a special room in her family’s house. She’s worked with veterinarian technicians to learn how to administer medication, spent her own money to buy heating pads and cozy “cat condos,” launched a website to showcase her animals, and negotiated adoptions as a certified adoption ambassador. “Even though an animal is very sick, frightened and has no home, I can help it get well, gain trust and find a wonderful forever home,” said Blakely. 

Distinguished Finalists

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

These are Maine’s Distinguished Finalists for 2018:

Kelly Maguire, 18, of Westbrook, Maine, a senior at Westbrook High School, led an initiative that raised more than $1,000 toward education of a boy in Zimbabwe by working with a charitable organization to sell as many bracelets as possible in two weeks. Kelly recruited fellow students to help her sell the bracelets at school, which raised enough money to fund the boy’s education for nearly a year.

Olivia O’Halloran, 17, of Yarmouth, Maine, a senior at Yarmouth High School, has dedicated hundreds of hours to volunteering with “Art Attack,” a summer camp that encourages young children to create art from the natural resources around them. Since beginning high school, Olivia has also served as a mentor to elementary school children experiencing social anxiety; she has also traveled to Peru and the Dominican Republic to help children in need.

“Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same.”

“These middle level and high school students have not only improved the lives of the people and communities they’ve served – they also set an important example for their peers,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “These honorees prove that you’re never too young to make a difference.”

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 affiliates of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network, 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 growth. 

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 April 30, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2018. 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 120,000 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, Brazil and Poland. 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.

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.

About NASSP

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. 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 Student Council. 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.

For Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallion graphics, please visit https://spirit.prudential.com/resources/media

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SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.