Louisiana's Top Two Youth Volunteers Selected in 18th Annual National Awards
Princeton and Shreveport students earn $1,000 awards, engraved medallions and
trip to nation’s capital
Honors also bestowed on youth volunteers in Shreveport, Arcadia and Mandeville
BATON ROUGE, La. -- February 5, 2013
Kellie Abbott, 17, of Princeton and Erica LeMere, 14, of Shreveport today were
named Louisiana's top two youth volunteers of 2013 by The Prudential Spirit of
Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding
acts of volunteerism. Kellie was nominated by Haughton High School in
Haughton, and Erica was nominated by University of Texas University Charter,
Meridell Campus in Liberty Hill. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards,
now in its 18th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with
the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Kellie, a senior at Haughton High School, raised more than $6,700 through a
T-shirt fundraiser to supply police cars with special anti-bleeding kits to
increase police officers’ odds of surviving a traumatic hemorrhaging wound.
Kellie felt compelled to do something after the 2010 death of Shreveport
Police Sergeant Tim Prunty, who bled to death from a gunshot wound to the leg.
“Police officers like Sergeant Prunty go to work each day just like we do and
they deserve to have every piece of safety equipment available to make sure
they return home each night,” said Kellie. After Prunty’s death, Kellie read a
news article about QuikClot, a product that promotes rapid clotting in the
event of serious bleeding injuries. “Louisiana state law requires each officer
to receive a bullet proof vest costing approximately $1,000,” said Kellie. “A
small QuikClot kit would only cost $60 and could be an important lifesaving
Kellie had previous experience raising money through T-shirt sales for various
clubs, so she decided to design a law enforcement shirt and sell it in her
community. After gaining the approval of local police officials, she met with
a printing company, created a Facebook event page, and began speaking to
individuals and groups in her community to publicize her sale. Getting orders
was relatively easy, but Kellie had to spend a significant amount of time
collecting payments. By the end of her sale, she had sold 443 shirts and was
able to purchase 66 QuikClot kits for law enforcement officers and 16 pet clot
kits for K-9 and mounted patrol service dogs. She would like to continue her
efforts and plans to work with her state representative to draft a law to
require the kits in all patrol cars.
Erica, an eighth-grader at Caddo Parish Middle Magnet School, founded “Erica’s
Wish,” a nonprofit foundation that has donated more than $5,000 worth of
clothing, books, and other personal items to children and adolescents
hospitalized at a local psychiatric facility. Erica knows firsthand the daily
struggles of young people who suffer from mental health illnesses. After years
of emotional turmoil, she entered Brentwood Hospital in Shreveport, where she
was diagnosed with cerebral dysrhythmia. “I was very lucky to have a
supportive mom and dad who brought whatever I needed,” Erica said. But she
noticed that many of her fellow patients always wore the paper-thin scrubs
provided by the hospital. The hospital, she learned, draws patients from the
far corners of her state as well as neighboring states, so many of the
children’s parents were unable to visit and bring care packages. After she was
released, Erica stepped in to help.
Her idea was to provide every hospitalized young person at the facility with a
decorated container filled with clothing, books, personal necessities,
entertainment items and inspirational words to brighten their stay at
Brentwood. After coming up with a list of items, Erica, with her mother’s
help, began contacting companies for donations through emails, phone calls,
and visits to stores at a local mall. After she had assembled a prototype, she
met with the head of the hospital. “He told me he was giving me the green
light because I was the first to leave and want to come back and make a
difference,” Erica said. It wasn’t long before clothing chains such as
American Eagle, Journey, Hollister, and Children’s Place were sending large
donations or granting her deep discounts on merchandise. Erica asked her
pastor to help her produce a public video presentation, raise money and find
volunteers to assemble the boxes. In just two weeks, Erica’s project had
raised enough to provide care boxes for 140 young patients. “The most
difficult part of my project,” said Erica, “was going public with my illness.
By starting ’Erica’s Wish,’ I hope to raise awareness of the many psychiatric
issues adolescents are facing and dealing with today.”
As State Honorees, Kellie and Erica 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 from each of the other states
and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.
During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of
The program judges also recognized four other Louisiana students as
Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities.
Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Louisiana's Distinguished Finalists for 2013:
Alexa Babin, 17, of Shreveport, La., a senior at C. E. Byrd High School,
co-founded the “Studying to Achieve Results (STAR) Program,” an academic
recognition program for young students staying at the local shelter for
homeless and abused women and their children. Alexa and her friend throw a
party each semester with medals, trophies and treats, all provided by a
sponsor, for those children who earn As and Bs on their report cards.
Henry Futch, 14, of Arcadia, La., an eighth-grader at Cedar Creek School, has
raised more than $4,000 since 2004 to benefit the American Cancer Society in
an effort to help those battling cancer, as he did when he was a young child.
Henry’s fundraising efforts began with roadside sales of potatoes from his
uncle’s farm, and grew from there to lawn care for charity, bake sales and,
most recently, coordinating a team for a Relay for Life charity run.
Madison Heil, 18, of Mandeville, La., a senior at Fontainebleau High School,
co-authors a monthly article with her sister featuring local community service
projects, events, and fundraisers in the local family magazine. Madison, who
calls the column, “Kennison’s Kause,” has written numerous articles in the
effort to encourage other young people to find causes for which they can make
Safa Michigan, 13, of Shreveport, La., an eighth-grader at Caddo Middle
Magnet, has partnered with community organizations and raised more than
$17,000 in private donations to fund two programs she created, “Do Not
Dropout” and “Buy American.” Safa, who experienced homelessness and bullying
as a child, hopes to encourage young people to stay in school while also
encouraging people to buy American-made products.
“Prudential is proud to honor these students for making meaningful
contributions to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John
Strangfeld. “We hope that shining a spotlight on their initiative, creativity
and compassion inspires others to consider how they, too, can make a
“Through their volunteer service, each of these young people has made his or
her mark on at least one person, school or community,” said JoAnn Bartoletti,
executive director of NASSP. “When you consider the collective impact of each
of these individual acts, it’s clear that young people can be a major force
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’
largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. 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 HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a
student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Nearly
5,000 Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, ,
which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria
including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one
high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour
the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the
world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of
Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol
Hill. On May 6, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high
school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013. These
National 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.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 100,000 young volunteers have been
honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted
by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland and India.
In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community
Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to
qualifying Local Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama.
For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community State
Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit http://spirit.prudential.com or
NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) is the leading
organization of and national voice for middle level and high school
principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the
United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association
provides research-based professional development and resources, networking,
and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to
continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding
commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the
National Honor Society™, National Junior Honor Society®, National Elementary
Honor Society®, and National Association of Student Councils®. For more
information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has
operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s
diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and
institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a variety of
products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related
services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s
iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation
for more than a century. For more information, please visit
Editors: For full-color pictures of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW
Harold Banks, 973-802-8974 or 973-216-4833
Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.