Two Dearborn teens were among those honored as the state's top youth volunteers for 2013 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program honoring middle level and high school students for outstanding volunteer service.
Ali Elreichouni, 17; and Marwa Harp, 17, are both seniors at Fordson High School.
Elreichouni founded the “Do Something Club” at his school to encourage young people to perform community service and to help them believe that each person can make a difference. Ali’s first effort as president of the organization was to organize a community and school recycling and beautification campaign for which members of the club made and distributed recycling bins around town and planted flowers in public gathering places.
Harp helped to raise $300,000 to support youth-based community organizations as a founding member of the “Cue Teen Grant Initiative.” Marwa, herself a recipient of charity as a child, helps develop community needs assessments and raises funds through donations, events and grants.
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.
It's 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.
Michigan's state honorees were Keegan Scholte, 18, of Gobles and Catherine Sesi, 12, of Ann Arbor.
As State Honorees, Scholte and Sesi each will receive $1,000, engraved silver medallions and all-expense-paid trips to Washington, D.C., where they will join 100 other top youth volunteers from across the United States for four days of national recognition events.
Elreichouni and Harp are among eight Distinguished Finalists from Michigan, also including:
- Bailey Baringer, 17, of Waterford
- Noah Bizer, 17, of South Lyon
- Autumn Holliday, 15, of Newaygo
- Marlena Megerian, 18, of Livonia
- Kilian Southworth, 12, of Bath
- Taylor Weckstein, 14, of Traverse City
The Distinguished Finalists each will receive engraved bronze medallions.
Scholte, Michigan's high school State Honoree, was honored for wearing no shoes for a whole year in order to raise money to buy 250 pairs of new shoes for kids in Uganda.
Sesi, Michigan's middle level State Honoree, was honored for donating more than $21,000 to a program for kids with cancer at the University of Michigan Mott Children’s Hospital, which she raised by playing her violin at a local art fair and collecting returnable cans and bottles.
For information on all of this year’s Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit http://spirit.prudential.com.