Rhode Island’s top youth volunteers of 2018 named today by Prudential Spirit of Community Awards

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Alison Hornung, 17, of North Kingstown and Sarah Lavoie, 14, of
Coventry today were named Rhode Island’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, Alison and Sarah 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

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

These are Rhode Island’s top youth volunteers of 2018:

High School State Honoree: Alison Hornung

Nominated by North Kingstown High School in North Kingstown

Alison, a senior at North Kingstown High School, organized a fashion runway show and
other fundraisers over a six-week period that yielded $43,000 to help find a cure
for blood cancers after a close friend was diagnosed with leukemia. Alison was
devastated as she watched her friend Grace struggle with her disease. “During the
treatment, she lost her eyesight, use of her legs, and the ability to be a child,”
said Alison. When Grace nominated her to participate in the Leukemia & Lymphoma
Society’s Student of the Year fundraising competition, “there was no doubt in my
mind that it was something I wanted to do,” said Alison.

Alison knew she wanted her main fundraising event to be a fashion runway show. She
contacted two designers from the TV program “Project Runway,” as well as two local
clothing designers, all of whom committed to the event. She asked local businesses
for raffle and silent auction items, found a free venue and a caterer, and secured
donated lighting, music, a photo booth, and hair and makeup services. The day of the
event, Grace, who is now cancer-free, and 14 other cancer patients, walked the
runway. “Seeing Grace powerfully, confidently, and gracefully strut down the runway
was the best feeling I have ever felt,” said Alison. The event raised $12,000, but
Alison wanted to donate more, so she planned other fundraisers including fitness
events and a battle of the bands. While she ended up a little short of her $50,000
goal, she won the competition and says she will continue raising money to make a
difference in the lives of cancer patients.

Middle Level State Honoree: Sarah Lavoie

Nominated by Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School of Coventry in Coventry

Sarah, an eighth-grader at Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School of Coventry, helps
resolve conflicts between students at her school peacefully through her role as a
peer mediator. When Sarah was in seventh grade, she took a class called “Teen
Issues,” which explored topics such as peer pressure and substance abuse. One of the
units was about peer mediation and at its conclusion, the teacher asked Sarah if she
wanted to be a peer mediator. “My teacher and guidance counselor told me that I had
the right personality, was a good listener, and that they believed I would be a good
peer mediator,” she said. “Their belief in me was what inspired me to get involved,
because I had never felt recognized for being who I am.”

Sarah and the other chosen students undertook 21 hours of training to learn how to
help when students are involved in conflict situations. She then led her fellow
mediators in brainstorming ideas for a presentation to students in the school. When
students are in a conflict, two peer mediators are called in to help them work
together to solve the problem, she said. Mediators try to get each party to
understand how the other feels, to really listen to the other side of the argument,
and to try to come to a mutually acceptable resolution. “If everyone understands how
the people around them feel and work it out when someone is hurt, then they can have
a healthy mindset when going to school and not be distracted or stressed,” Sarah

Distinguished Finalists

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

These are Rhode Island’s Distinguished Finalists for 2018:

Leigh Payne, 18, of Barrington, R.I., a senior at Barrington High School, has led 40
young musicians from her community to perform concerts at nursing homes through
“Hope and Healing Music,” a program she started in 2015. Leigh, a pianist driven to
bring comfort through music to people with Alzheimer’s disease, enlisted the help of
her school’s Future Business Leaders of America club and National Honor Society to
support her program.

Idalys Perez, 18, of Providence, R.I., a senior at Metropolitan Regional Career and
Technical Center, organized a walkathon in memory of a late family friend and
influential school administrator, raising more than $2,700 for the American Heart
Association and a scholarship in her name. Idalys took the lead on logistics from
marketing and volunteer recruitment to recruiting business donors for the event,
which drew about 100 participants.

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

About Prudential Financial

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please visit www.news.prudential.com (http://www.news.prudential.com/) .