Rhode Island’s Top Youth Volunteers of 2021 Selected by National Program

NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Joshua Land, 18, of East Greenwich and Gabriella Andrade, 12, of Carolina today were…

NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Joshua Land, 18, of East Greenwich and Gabriella Andrade, 12, of Carolina today were named Rhode Island’s top youth volunteers of 2021 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, America’s largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer service.

As State Honorees, Joshua and Gabriella will each receive a $2,500 scholarship, a silver medallion and an invitation to the program’s virtual national recognition celebration in April, where 10 of the 102 State Honorees will be named America’s top youth volunteers of the year. Those 10 National Honorees will earn an additional $5,000 scholarship, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their nominating organization and a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, conducted annually by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service.

«We created the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards 26 years ago to highlight and support the work of young people taking on the challenges of a changing world – a mission that rings truer than ever given the events of last year,» said Charles Lowrey, Prudential’s chairman and CEO. «We are proud to celebrate the vision and determination of Spirit of Community’s Class of 2021, and all the ways they’re making their communities safer, healthier and more equitable places to live.»

These are Rhode Island’s top youth volunteers of 2021:

High School State Honoree: Joshua Land

Nominated by East Greenwich High School

Joshua, a senior at East Greenwich High School, has played a leading role in coaching, teaching and mentoring kids with physical or intellectual disabilities in youth baseball, basketball, soccer and football programs. «Sports have always been a large part of my life,» said Joshua. «When I found out that there was an organization in town that made the same experiences happen for children with developmental disabilities, I felt I had to take part.» In fifth grade, he began volunteering for his local Little League Challenger baseball program, teaching kids the rules of the game; how to hit, throw and field the ball; and how to run bases.

Before long, Joshua also had signed up to coach basketball in the winter, soccer in the spring and fall, and flag football in late autumn. As with baseball, he teaches young athletes the fundamentals of each sport, supervises practice drills, and guides them as they play actual games, either with each other or with teams from other towns. All the while, Joshua strives to be a constant source of encouragement for each player, and to make sure all of his athletes have the best possible experience. Joshua has been honored and promoted by the organizations he has served for his dedication and for helping to build and expand their programs, which have become models for other communities. «The children I’ve had the pleasure of playing with are an inspiration for me,» said Joshua. «The challenges they face seem insurmountable, yet they constantly persevere and live their best lives.»

Middle Level State Honoree: Gabriella Andrade

Nominated by Monsignor Clarke School

Gabriella, a seventh-grader at Monsignor Clarke School, has helped her family raise more than $160,000 to fight cancer over the past five years, and launched her own fundraising effort last year by making and selling cupcakes. Gabby’s family began supporting the Jimmy Fund, which benefits the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, after her grandfather died from bladder cancer in 2016. Gabby helped out from the beginning, but in 2020, «I felt I was ready to do more,» she said. «I wanted to take the lead in making a difference!» Since she loves to bake and dreams of becoming a professional baker, Gabby came up with the idea of baking cupcakes to contribute to cancer research.

With help from her little sister, she created a business plan and persuaded her parents to cover the cost of ingredients so that 100 percent of her sales proceeds could be donated. Then she picked the best cupcake recipes from her own collection and scoured recipe books and websites to find other formulas that would appeal to a wide range of tastes. Next, she began marketing through word-of-mouth, email, school newsletters, social media and a website. Once orders are received, Gabby bakes each cupcake to the «utmost quality,» she said, and always adds some sort of special decoration like sprinkles or molded chocolates. So far, she has sold more than 300 cupcakes, raising over $1,100 for the Jimmy Fund. «It is so spectacular to think about the impact one little cupcake can make!» said Gabby.

State Honorees in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Class of 2021 – the top middle level and high school volunteer from all 50 states and the District of Columbia – were selected for service initiatives completed, at least in part, between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020. Selection was based on criteria including impact, effort, initiative and the personal growth demonstrated over the course of the project. Several Distinguished Finalists and runners-up were also selected in each state, and all qualifying applicants received President’s Volunteer Service Awards. 

«It speaks volumes about the character of today’s secondary school students that the Spirit of Community program heard from more than 21,000 applicants this fall – most of them stories of young volunteers overcoming the hardships of a global pandemic to support those in need,» said Ronn Nozoe, Chief Executive Officer, NASSP. «While we’re especially proud to celebrate this year’s 102 State Honorees, NASSP applauds every student who’s found a way to volunteer this past year. You inspire your peers and adults alike to remember that, even in times of crisis, we all have something to give.»

To read the names and stories of all of this year’s State Honorees, visit http://spirit.prudential.com.

About Prudential Financial

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial wellness leader and premier active global investment manager, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees help to make lives better by creating financial opportunity for more people. Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit news.prudential.com. 

About NASSP

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student’s potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council. Learn more at http://nassp.org.

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