Young volunteers earn special recognition in Phoenix

May 13, 2009

Youth honored for their commitment to their communities

The Prudential Spirit of Community reception celebration honoring students from metropolitan Phoenix was held on Saturday, April 18, 2009 at Bentley Gallery. The students are local honorees in the nation’s largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteerism. Epitomizing the American spirit of public service, each student has an inspiring history of community involvement.

The youth honored at the Prudential Spirit of Community reception were acknowledged for the time they have spent in service to their communities. They also received special gifts commemorating the occasion.

Guest speakers included 2005 State Honoree Alison Goulder and 2005/2007 Distinguished Finalist Alyssa Bisanz. The festivities also included a children’s book drive benefitting the Salvation Army Family Services.

State Honorees
Ciara Petronzio, Scottsdale, Desert Arroyo Middle School, supported the animal shelter and Rescue a Golden of Arizona.  She attended fundraisers and organized lemonade stands to raise money for veterinary care for sick or abused animals at the shelter.  She also volunteers her time by walking and feeding the dogs.

Mark Phillips, Scottsdale, Saguaro High School, serves as founder and president of the Red Nose Club, an organization that benefits physically and mentally challenged children and has raised nearly $21,000. His efforts include a fundraiser for an orphanage in Romania, a food drive, and a Valentine’s Day party for Phoenix Day School for the Deaf.

Distinguished Finalists
Taylor Bilby, Scottsdale, Chaparral High School, founded ACTION, a club aimed at spreading awareness about cancer and contributing to a cure for the disease.   Each year, she leads a team in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure  and has raised more than $3,000 for the event.  She also particpates in Relay for Life and volunteers for other organizations such as the Wellness Community, the Lymphoma Foundation, and the American Cancer Society.

Local Honorees
Jessica Barncastle, Scottsdale, Arizona Agribusiness And Equine Center at Paradise Valley, helped with the Black Stallion Literacy Day, a project to help at-risk elementary students learn to read.  She taught students about horses and served as a group leader for different activities.

Matthew Feibus, Cave Creek, Cactus Shadows High School, works as a volunteer counselor at an after-school program for at-risk children at Palomino II Intermediate School.  He led fun activities for the children, and also taught important life lessons such as planning for their future and understanding how to be responsible with the money they earn.

Sean Kelso, Cave Creek, Cactus Shadows High School, raised nearly $3,000 for Foothills Animal Rescue shelter for his Eagle Scout project.  He organized a car wash at his church and requested donations from his Boy Scout Troop and local busineses to provide care and pet supplies to animals in need.

Theresa Kyte, Scottsdale, Desert Mountain High School, participated in the Halloween Bash for Maggie’s Place, an event for single or disadvantaged mothers and their children.  She created games and helped collect costumes, prizes and food for the event.  She also sews baby blankets for Maggie’s Place and assists with their annual Spring fundraiser.

Elizabeth Larkin, Scottsdale, Xavier College Preparatory, aided refugee families in building a new life in Phoenix through the Welcome to America Project.  She organized garage sales and other fundraisers to buy household essentials such as dishware and furniture, and delivered the items to the families. 

Sierra Smith, Scottsdale, Horizon High School, is involved with the Youth and Education Commission for the City of Phoenix. She helped organize the Youth Town Hall, presented the Outstanding Young Man/Woman of the Year Award, and worked as a student reporter for the local program Know99.

Guests had a chance to show their support for these local students and many others from around the Valley, who have initiated and organized meaningful service projects to benefit local and international communities.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Recognition Program, sponsored by Prudential in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), was created in 1995 to help make young Americans aware of the importance of volunteerism and community service.