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Arizona's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 13th Annual National Awards Program.

Chandler and Yuma students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and trip to nation's capital

Honors also bestowed on other top youth volunteers in Arizona

U.S. Senators John Kerry and Chuck Hagel to co-chair judging panel that will pick 10 National Honorees in May

PHOENIX -- Kaitlyn Mulhollan, 18, of Chandler and Kaycee McNutt, 13, of Yuma today were named Arizona's top two youth volunteers for 2008 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The awards program, now in its 13th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Kaitlyn was nominated by Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, and Kaycee was nominated by Castle Dome Middle School in Yuma. As State Honorees, each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees - one middle level and one high school youth - from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events. Ten of them will be named America's top youth volunteers for 2008 at that time.

Kaitlyn, a senior at Corona del Sol High School, has helped build 10 houses for needy families over the past five years as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and now serves as a team leader for the local Habitat chapter. Accompanied by her father, Kaitlyn worked on her first house when she was just 13 years old, and has since shown up early every Saturday morning when projects were under way (about 35 Saturdays per year). "The moment you arrive on a Habitat site you know that something great is being done for the community and the people involved," she said. "The attitudes and personalities that surround you create a positive atmosphere that's hard to ignore."

Three years ago, Kaitlyn was promoted to team leader, with responsibility for guiding and assisting small groups of volunteers in their assigned construction tasks. In addition to laboring on the construction sites, Kaitlyn has worked to educate others about Habitat for Humanity's mission, recruited friends and classmates to join the effort, and persuaded her employer, California Pizza Kitchen, to provide meals for construction volunteers. "I not only have learned the techniques and skills required to build a house from the ground up, but also have been shown the difference a small group of people can make to their community and to the world," said Kaitlyn.

Kaycee, a seventh-grader at Castle Dome Middle School, has devoted more than a year to training a puppy to be a guide dog for a blind person, and also volunteers each week at a local veterinary clinic. Kaycee, a long-time animal lover and pet owner, decided to become a guide dog trainer after a teacher at her school brought his puppy to class and talked about the organization, Guide Dogs for the Blind. "I really enjoyed working with the pup, and later in the year I decided to attend some monthly meetings with our local guide dog group," said Kaycee. "The more meetings I made, the more I realized what a great program it was."

Kaycee received a puppy to train in October 2006, and has since spent almost every waking hour with "Blaze," teaching him to walk on a leash, go potty on command, and obey nine verbal commands. In addition, Kaycee takes Blaze with her everywhere she goes, including public places, in order to socialize him at a young age. "Although raising a guide dog takes a lot of time and effort, I feel like I am doing something that can change the life of a blind person for the better," she said. Kaycee also enjoys working at the Desert Veterinary Clinic every Friday after school, where she cleans floors, kennels and treatment rooms; calms down scared animals; helps with paper work; and pitches in wherever needed.

In addition, the program judges recognized six other Arizona students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion:

Grace Do, 17, of Chandler, a junior at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, leads two tutoring programs in her community that help recent immigrants learn English. Grace, who used to struggle with English because she spoke Mandarin Chinese at home, is now co-director of the Chinese Immigrant Tutoring Center at her church, where she has volunteered for five years. Three years ago, she co-founded a similar tutoring program at a local library.

Alyssa Goya, 13, of Phoenix, an eighth-grader at Mountain Trail Middle School in Scottsdale, has organized a variety of fund-raising activities over the past five years that have collected more than $30,000 to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation grant wishes to terminally ill children. Alyssa also started a Make-A-Wish club at her school, and serves as vice chair of the foundation's "Kids for Wish Kids" program.

Akhila Narla, 17, of Chandler, a senior at Dobson High School in Mesa, founded a service and leadership Key Club at her school and currently serves as its president. The club, which boasts more than 70 members, has raised money for breast cancer research, wrapped and delivered gifts for the poor, conducted environmental clean-ups, visited the elderly, and conducted many other volunteer activities in the community.

Reed Pratt, 17, of Tucson, a sophomore at Sonoran Science Academy, has volunteered for a homeless feeding program for the past two years, first as a food server, and more recently as a "peacekeeper." He helps with crowd and traffic control, ensures that the program's location is smoke- and drug-free, administers first aid, and assists homeless clients who are seriously depressed.

Kenneth Sanchez, 18, of Prescott, a senior at Heritage High School, co-founded and is president of Youth Ventures Unlimited, the only e-waste collection and recycling business in Northern Arizona. Thanks to Kenneth's organization, more than 70,000 pounds of computer and electronic waste have been recycled rather than sent to landfills.

Megan Yee, 17, of Scottsdale, a senior at Desert Mountain High School, organized a series of computer classes to teach members of the Phoenix area's Chinese-American community how to use word-processing programs, spreadsheets, e-mail and the Internet. Megan designed the curriculum, recruited volunteers to teach classes, prepares lesson plans, and teaches classes herself.

"Over the past 13 years, we've seen an incredible number of young Americans who have selflessly devoted their time and energy to helping others in their communities," said Arthur F. Ryan, chairman of Prudential Financial. "The volunteer work of this year's honorees is as inspiring as any we've seen, and we are honored to recognize the amazing contributions they've made to their neighborhoods, cities and nation."

"Congratulations to this year's state winners in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards," stated Gerald N. Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. "The hard work and determination that these students have exhibited in trying to make a difference in the lives of others is remarkable."

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 Volunteer Centers, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award this past November. Nearly 4,500 Local Honorees were then reviewed by state-level judges, who selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria such as personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.

While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees will tour the capital's landmarks, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. In addition, 10 of them - five middle level and five high school students - will be named National Honorees on May 5 by a prestigious national selection committee. These 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.

Co-chairing the national selection committee will be U.S. Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, and Arthur Ryan of Prudential. Also serving on the committee will be actor Richard Dreyfuss; Alma Powell, chair of America's Promise - The Alliance for Youth; Michelle Nunn, president and CEO of the Points of Light & Hands On Network; Amy B. Cohen, director of Learn and Serve America at the Corporation for National and Community Service; Kathy Cloninger, CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA; Donald T. Floyd Jr., president and CEO of National 4-H Council; Kathryn Forbes, national chair of volunteers, American Red Cross; Neil Nicoll, CEO of YMCA of the USA; Michael Cohen, president and CEO of Achieve, Inc.; Barry Stark, president of NASSP; and two 2007 Prudential Spirit of Community National Honorees: Kelly Davis of West Bath, Maine, and Kelydra Welcker of Parkersburg, W.Va.

In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program will be distributing President's Volunteer Service Awards to nearly 2,800 of its Local Honorees this year on behalf of the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation. The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represent the United States' largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. The program is part of a broad youth-service initiative by Prudential that includes a youth leadership training program administered by the Points of Light & Hands On Network; a free booklet of volunteer ideas for young people offered through the Federal Citizen Information Center; and a Web site featuring profiles of outstanding youth volunteers, volunteer tips and project ideas for students, an electronic newspaper on youth volunteerism, and more ( The Spirit of Community Awards program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Ireland.

For information on all of this year's Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit, or

NASSP is the preeminent organization and the national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals and aspiring school leaders. NASSP provides its members the professional resources to serve as visionary leaders. NASSP promotes the intellectual growth, academic achievement, character development, leadership development, and physical well-being of youth through its programs and student leadership services. NASSP administers the National Honor Society[TM], the National Junior Honor Society[TM] and the National Association of Student Councils[TM].

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE:PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Leveraging its heritage of life insurance and asset management expertise, Prudential is focused on helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth. The company's well-known Rock symbol is an icon of strength, stability, expertise and innovation that has stood the test of time. Prudential's businesses offer a variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds, investment management, and real estate services. For more information, please visit

Editors: Graphics depicting the award program's logo and medallions may be downloaded from
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Date:Feb 12, 2008
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