A middle schooler from Shelburne and a high school student from Waterbury were honored for their volunteer work recently as Vermont’s top two youth volunteers by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
Two other local students were named as finalists as well.
Ella Byers, 12, of Shelburne, and Samuel Grandfield, 18, of Waterbury, were chosen in the nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Ella is a seventh grader at Mater Christi School in Burlington whose volunteer efforts have been direct toward helping those dealing with poverty, addiction and illness. Her projects have included fundraising to aid the Lund Family Center and Spectrum Youth & Family Services, and collecting supplies for people at a homeless shelter.
Samuel is a senior at Harwood Union High School who is a junior volunteer firefighter in his community and was inspired by a former teacher who also was a firefighter.
Each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in late April to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events. In D.C., 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2018.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.
The program recognized two other Vermont students – and local residents – as finalists; they each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
Connor Durochia, 17, of Hinesburg, a senior at Champlain Valley Union High School, and Grace Slauterbeck, 17, of Charlotte, a senior at Rice Memorial High School, were honored.
Connor co-founded a ministry that helps the homeless. Grace raised money at home to aid an orphanage she visited in Mexico.
The award program is based solely on volunteer service. Students are nominated by schools, scout councils, 4-H groups, YMCAs, and other organizations.
Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld said he hoped honorees will inspire others to follow their example.
“These honorees prove that you’re never too young to make a difference,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of the principal’s group.