NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Anne Wasinger,
18, of Hays and Jonah Stein, 12, of Leawood today were named Kansas' top youth volunteers of 2021 by The
Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, America's largest youth
recognition program based exclusively on volunteer service.
As State Honorees, Anne and Jonah will each receive a
$2,500 scholarship, a silver
medallion and an invitation to the program's virtual national
recognition celebration in April, where 10 of the 102 State
Honorees will be named America's top youth volunteers of the year.
Those 10 National Honorees will earn an additional $5,000 scholarship, a gold medallion, a crystal
trophy for their nominating organization and a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit charitable
organization of their choice.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, conducted annually by
Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association
of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors students in grades
5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities
through volunteer service.
"We created the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards 26 years
ago to highlight and support the work of young people taking on the
challenges of a changing world – a mission that rings truer than
ever given the events of last year," said Charles Lowrey, Prudential's chairman and
CEO. "We are proud to celebrate the vision and determination of
Spirit of Community's Class of 2021, and all the ways they're
making their communities safer, healthier and more equitable places
These are Kansas' top youth
volunteers of 2021:
High School State Honoree: Anne Wasinger
Nominated by Thomas
More Prep-Marian Jr/Sr High School
Anne, a senior at Thomas More Prep Marian High School, founded
and directs an annual theatre camp for adults with developmental
disabilities, an intensive five-day experience that culminates in a
performance for the community. When Anne has 3 years old, she began
performing in her local community theatre along with family
members. But one member of her family wasn't able to participate.
"My big brother, Joel, has cerebral palsy and due to
inaccessibility, he could never perform with me," Anne said.
However, the theatre moved to a new facility in the summer of 2018
and built wheelchair-accessible ramps and bathrooms. That spurred
Anne, who believes that the "limitless" benefits of theatre should
be available to all, to start "Center Stage Theatre Camp" to give
people with disabilities a chance to learn theatre techniques, gain
confidence, express themselves and showcase their talents.
After several proposals and meetings, Anne partnered with the
local theatre to cover costs and provide rehearsal space. She then
persuaded a large local church to host the group's post-camp
performance; selected skits, songs, and dances to teach the
performers; purchased scripts; spread the word among agencies that
work with people with disabilities; and recruited volunteers to
help. Despite some funding setbacks early on and now the challenges
presented by COVID-19, Anne has persevered and thus far has
conducted two camps involving a total of 50 "campers" and 40
volunteers. She estimates that over 200 members of her community
have turned out to watch their shows.
Middle Level State Honoree: Jonah Stein
Nominated by Leawood
Jonah, a seventh-grader at Leawood Middle School, has raised
more than $18,000 to provide bags of
food for people in need in his community by making and selling
beaded necklaces for COVID-19 face masks. A few years ago, Jonah
and his family attended his great-grandmother's funeral in
Minnesota. "When we were leaving
the synagogue, there were bags with food and essentials for people
to take and keep in their cars to give to needy people on the
streets," Jonah said. He thought this was an "incredible" idea and
shared it with the local Jewish Family Services agency where he has
volunteered. "They were excited by the idea," Jonah said, and soon
the organization was providing its own "care bags" containing food,
other essential items and a list of helpful resources.
In order to raise money to support this program, Jonah came up
with the idea of selling a face mask accessory. "I saw that people
had no place to put their masks when they weren't wearing them,
especially while eating," said Jonah. With help from his family,
Jonah researched and developed a necklace that attaches to face
masks so they can be pulled down conveniently when not in use. He
got beads, equipment and advice from a local bead-seller, built up
an inventory of different necklace styles, created a website to
market his "MASKerAIDs," and conducted media interviews. "I was
amazed at how quickly things took off," he said. He surpassed his
initial fundraising goal in one weekend, and continues to donate
100 percent of his sales to the food pantry.
State Honorees in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
Class of 2021 – the top middle level and high school volunteer from
all 50 states and the District of
Columbia – were selected for service initiatives completed,
at least in part, between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020.
Selection was based on criteria including impact, effort,
initiative and the personal growth demonstrated over the course of
the project. Several Distinguished Finalists and runners-up were
also selected in each state, and all qualifying applicants received
President's Volunteer Service Awards.
"It speaks volumes about the character of today's secondary
school students that the Spirit of Community program heard from
more than 21,000 applicants this fall – most of them stories of
young volunteers overcoming the hardships of a global pandemic to
support those in need," said Ronn
Nozoe, Chief Executive Officer, NASSP. "While we're
especially proud to celebrate this year's 102 State Honorees, NASSP
applauds every student who's found a way to volunteer this past
year. You inspire your peers and adults alike to remember that,
even in times of crisis, we all have something to give."
To read the names and stories of all of this year's State
Honorees, visit http://spirit.prudential.com.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial wellness
leader and premier active global investment manager, has operations
in the United States, Asia, Europe
and Latin America. Prudential's
diverse and talented employees help to make lives better by
creating financial opportunity for more people. Prudential's iconic
Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and
innovation for more than a century. For more information, please
The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP)
is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other
school leaders across the United
States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school
leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student's
potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the
success of each student. 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. Learn
more at http://nassp.org.
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SOURCE Prudential Financial, Inc.