Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Red Cross Finalists!

This week The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program announced the names of their State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists for 2013. These students – the top two youth volunteers in each state and the District of Columbia, along with 234 state-level runners-up – were selected from a pool of more than 28,000 participants for the impact of their service activities, as well as their initiative, personal growth and dedication to helping others. We are delighted to share that Red Cross youth volunteers account for 20 of the State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists.

Congratulations to the 20 State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists who were nominated by their Red Cross chapter!

Adam Griffis, High School State Honoree (Vancouver, Washington)Adams photo for press release
Adam Griffis, 18, of Vancouver, Wash., a member of the American Red Cross Southwest Washington Region in Vancouver and a senior at Union High School, oversees all American Red Cross youth activities in southwest Washington as president of the region’s Red Cross youth council. His involvement with the Red Cross began four years ago when he volunteered to help with a blood drive at his school. “I realized that students were running the show and making a difference,” said Adam. Inspired by that experience, Adam decided he wanted to help all of the schools in the area find a way to conduct their own blood drives. After being elected a member of the regional youth council, he took on the role of chief blood drive organizer. Then, he started a Red Cross club at his school.

Over the years, as he worked on projects ranging from fundraising for disaster relief to teaching CPR and first aid to members of his community, “I learned more and more about the Red Cross, and became more and more intrigued,” said Adam. His dedication to the organization ultimately led to his election as president of the youth council. In that position, Adam spends an average of 10 hours a week planning events, interacting with school representatives, managing a website, delegating tasks to other volunteers, processing paperwork and overseeing all aspects of the region’s youth program. It’s a lot of work, said Adam, but is highly rewarding. “The great feeling of helping others is worth ten-fold the amount of effort you put in,” he said.

Estefania Martinez, Middle Level State Honoree (Aurora, Colorado)
Estefania Martinez, 13, of Aurora, Colo., a seventh-grader at North Middle School Health Sciences and Technology Campus, has been an avid volunteer at her school and at a local mental health facility for the past two years. She was inspired to get involved after seeing the Red Cross spring into action to help people during times of crisis. “My favorite thing is to do volunteer hours,” said Estefania.

She started by helping kindergarteners and first graders with their homework on a regular basis. Then she made herself available to school officials to help with events such as back-to-school nights, parent coffees and parent-teacher conferences. Estefania says volunteering will always be a part of her life. “People really need your time,” she said.

Kelly Oostman, Distinguished Finalist (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Kelly Oostman, 17, of Albuquerque, N.M., a member of the American Red Cross in New Mexico and a senior at Big Woods Academy, raised $1,500 through her project, “No Makeup November,” to support the A21 Campaign that rescues and rehabilitates victims of the human sex trafficking trade. To give women an opportunity to participate in an event similar to the fundraiser No Shave November, Kelly worked with her church and her youth group, created a Facebook page and Twitter account, and is working to have the project become a nonprofit organization.

Katherine Hicks, Distinguished Finalist (Raleigh, North Carolina)
Katherine Hicks, 18, of Raleigh, N.C., a senior at Needham Broughton High School, raised more than $11,000 for the American Red Cross at her “Fling Into Spring” event. Katie, who won the American Red Cross’ High School Heroes contest for her efforts, organized the entire event, which included live entertainment, a BBQ dinner, a silent auction and a 50/50 raffle.

Lisa Michaels, Distinguished Finalist (Plano, Texas)
Lisa Michaels, 17, of Plano, Texas, a junior at Plano West Senior High School, built her own home research lab and has spent more than 1,000 hours conducting research on how to detect and prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Lisa, inspired by her own struggle with a sub-acute Guillain-Barré syndrome, is also the co-president of the American Red Cross Club, vice president of the Key Club, and the junior president of the LASER Science Club for which she is working with the public library to create student science kits.

Courtney Pool, Distinguished Finalist (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Courtney Pool, 17, of Colorado Springs, Colo., a senior at Pine Creek High School, coordinated a CPR awareness campaign at her school called, “Stayin’ Alive at Pine Creek High.” Courtney, along with a friend, organized a weeklong series of activities to teach 1,000 students how to conduct CPR, what to do in an emergency, and how to become blood and organ donors.

Julia Abelsky, Distinguished Finalist (Atlanta, Georgia)
Since 2009, Julia has raised more than $10,000 for charities and provided holiday gifts to more than 100 children, donated more than 8,000 holiday treats to shelters, delivered 5,000 cards to hospitals, and sent funds to help those recovering from disasters in Japan and Africa.

Emma Astrike-Davis, HS State Honoree (Durham, NC)
Matthew Draeger, HS State Honoree (Paris, TX)
Omar Zaki, Distinguished Finalist (Kingston, RI)
Caitlin Wall, Distinguished Finalist (Florence, AL)
Sara McCorkle, Distinguished Finalist (Claxton, GA)
Scott Fetz, Distinguished Finalist (Kailua-Kona, HI)
Susanqi Jiang, Distinguished Finalist (Rockville, MD)
Bailey Baringer, Distinguished Finalist (Waterford, MI)
Marwa Harp, Distinguished Finalist (Dearborn, MI)
Christopher Rim, Distinguished Finalist (Paramus, NJ)
Stefanie Kaufman, Distinguished Finalist (Westbury, NY)
Nashawn Stevens, Distinguished Finalist (Upper Arlington, OH)
Alexandra Sexton Distinguished Finalist (Knoxville, TN)

You can read more about all the State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists here.

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