funny-men-with-puzzel-piecesNo doubt. This is a feel good post. Maybe it’s because my husband purchased 3 nights and my birthday dinner at MaMa’s Fish House in Maui this year.  What a guy!

So when Michael-Logan Jordan of Kailua, Hawaii was named one of America’s Top 10 Youth Voluteers of the Year, I couldn’t resist.

Michael-Logan, 14, was named one of America’s top 10 youth volunteers of 2013 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards during the program’s 18th annual national award ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Selected from a field of more than 28,000 youth volunteers from across the country, Michael-Logan has earned the title of National Honoree, along with a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion, a crystal trophy for his school, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for a nonprofit charitable organization of his choice.

“They have learned early that their contributions can make a real difference, and there is no limit to the great things they can achieve.”

Also honored this week in Washington, D.C., was Brittany Amano, 15, of Honolulu. Brittany and Michael-Logan were named Hawaii’s top youth volunteers in February, and were officially recognized last night at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History along with the top two youth volunteers in each other state and the District of Columbia. At that event, each of the 102 State Honorees for 2013 received $1,000 awards as well as personal congratulations from Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey and Olympic gold medalist Allyson Felix. The honorees each also received engraved silver medallions and all-expense-paid trips with a parent to Washington, D.C., for this week’s recognition events.

Michael-Logan, an eighth-grader at Kailua Intermediate School, has donated all of his birthday gifts for the past eight years to children in need; collected Christmas cards, clothing and other items for wounded soldiers; and raised more than $10,000 for the National Arthritis Foundation. Michael-Logan’s interest in volunteering stems in part from being afflicted with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. “There is not a day that goes by that I’m not in some amount of pain,” he said. “However, that pain seems a little easier to bear when I’m focusing on helping others.” When he was in kindergarten, he started working with his parents at a local Toys for Tots warehouse. “It broke my heart to know that some children wouldn’t receive gifts for Christmas without the generosity of others,” he said.

As a result, he vowed to donate his birthday presents each year to Toys for Tots. Then, when his father’s Marine unit was deployed to Iraq, Michael-Logan enlisted his classmates’ help in making and stuffing more than 400 Christmas stockings for the soldiers in his unit. He also volunteers at the veteran’s homeless shelter, the Lokahi Giving Project and the Armed Services YMCA. For the past five years, Michael-Logan has participated in the Arthritis Foundation Walk, raising more than $10,000 last year. Michael-Logan also works with at-risk kids and speaks at elementary schools about his disease, healthy eating habits and bullying. In recognition of all his volunteering, the mayor of his town designated May 4, 2012 “Michael-Logan Jordan Day.”

Brittany, a sophomore at ‘Iolani School, began volunteering to help feed the hungry when she was just 10, and later founded a nonprofit organization that has assisted people in need both in her community and as far away as Africa. The impetus for Brittany’s volunteerism was her grandmother, who became homeless when Brittany was 8 years old. “I wanted to help the people who helped my grandma get back on her feet,” says Brittany. When she found out that her church helped feed the homeless, Brittany wanted to get involved.

She began by serving three meals a week at her church to 300 homeless people and helping out at local food banks. She then started a food drive that raised over 800 pounds of food and a recycling drive that contributed $700 for a homeless shelter. Realizing her community had other needs as well, she provided school supplies and Christmas presents to disadvantaged children, and tutored students learning English as a second language. After setting up her own nonprofit called “Hawaii’s Future Isn’t Hungry,” Brittany sold lemonade to provide 30 malaria nets in Africa, conducted book drives, cleaned beaches and raised money for tsunami victims in Japan and collected over 42,000 pounds of food. As a member of her school’s Key Club, she has helped raise funds for tetanus medication and a pediatric trauma center, prepare care packages for children of deployed soldiers, and put together goody bags for the graduates of an alcohol abuse program. Last year, she joined the YWCA Young Women’s Network Board and helped recruit women voters, provide high school girls with leadership training, and supervise children for eight weeks at a day camp for the YMCA.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is a nationwide youth volunteer recognition program sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

“We commend these honorees not only for the impact of their service and their spirit of giving, but also for inspiring others to consider that they can make a difference, too,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “We congratulate this extraordinary group of youth volunteers.”

“These students are fine examples of what is possible when young people roll up their sleeves and commit themselves to helping others,” said Denise Greene-Wilkinson, president of NASSP. “They have learned early that their contributions can make a real difference, and there is no limit to the great things they can achieve.”

In addition to Michael-Logan, the other 2013 National Honorees are:

Allyson Ahlstrom, 17, of Santa Rosa, Calif., a senior at Cardinal Newman High School, created a full-service clothing boutique that has allowed 250 girls in need to each pick out two brand-new outfits for free over the past three years.

Emma Astrike-Davis, 16, of Durham, N.C., a junior at Cary Academy, founded a program five years ago that has recruited hundreds of students in several schools to create more than 1,000 pieces of art for terminally ill patients in hospice centers, nursing homes and VA hospitals.

Zachary Certner, 17, of Morristown, N.J., a junior at Morristown High School, co-founded a nonprofit organization that conducts free sports clinics for children with special needs, along with sensitivity training to help other students understand the challenges they face.

Erica LeMere, 14 of Shreveport, La. an eighth-grader at Caddo Parish Middle Magnet School, founded “Erica’s Wish,” a nonprofit foundation that has donated more than $5,000 worth of clothing, books and other items to young patients at a local psychiatric facility.

Louie McGee, 12, of St. Paul, Minn., a sixth-grader at Highland Catholic School, leads a team that has raised more than $40,000 over the past six years by participating in an annual fundraising walk to fight diseases that cause blindness, like the one that afflicts him.

Virginia Newsome, 17, of Lexington, Ky., a senior at Lafayette High School, created a nonprofit organization in 2011 that has donated $50,000 worth of visual and performing arts supplies to schools that cannot afford them.

Teagan Stedman, 13, of Thousand Oaks, Calif., a seventh-grader at Harvard-Westlake School, organized a series of music events and other activities that raised more than $70,000 for pediatric cancer research.

Cassie Wang, 17, of Lenexa, Kan., a senior at Olathe Northwest High School, leveraged her golf skills to raise money for the rebuilding of homes and businesses in Joplin, Mo. after the devastating tornado that struck that city in 2011, and then chaired three blood drives in her community and launched a student-run nonprofit to benefit disaster victims both in Joplin and in China.

Joshua Williams, 12, of Miami Beach, Fla., a seventh-grader at Ransom Everglades School, created a foundation that has distributed more than 475,000 pounds of food to families in need throughout South Florida.

The distinguished selection committee that chose the National Honorees was chaired by Strangfeld and included Greene-Wilkinson of NASSP; Michelle Nunn, CEO of the Points of Light Institute and co-founder of HandsOn Network; Donald T. Floyd, Jr., president and CEO of the National 4-H Council; Jaclyn E. Libowitz, chief administrative officer for Girl Scouts of the USA; James E. Starr, vice president for volunteer management for the American Red Cross; Scott Richardson, research analyst for the Corporation for National and Community Service; Dru Tomlin, director of middle level services for the Association for Middle Level Education; Kate Blosveren, associate director for strategic initiatives for Achieve, Inc.; Renee’ Jackson, manager of school relations and diversity at the National PTA; and two 2012 National Honorees: Neha Gupta, a junior at Pennsbury High School in Fairless Hills, Pa., and Jordyn Schara, a senior at Reedsburg Area High School in Reedsburg, Wis.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service – and, in so doing, inspire others to volunteer as well. In the past 18 years, the program has honored more than 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level. Youth volunteers were invited to apply for 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards last fall through schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and affiliates of the HandsOn Network. More than 28,000 middle level and high school students nationwide participated in this year’s program.

NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 38 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, 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.

Copyright TIGERS Success Series by Dianne Crampton

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