Rosa Parks MS Student Named Outstanding Youth Volunteer

February 12, 2009
Haley Whitt, a student at Rosa Parks Middle School in Olney, was named Maryland's top middle school volunteer for 2009 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people in each state for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The awards program, now in its 14th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial, in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Haley, a sixth-grader at Rosa Parks Middle School, organized a four-mile walk last year that raised more than $6,000 for the Montgomery Hospice Foundation, in memory of her grandmother. During her last days, Haley’s grandmother was cared for at a local hospice facility. “They treated my grandma and our family with kindness and took care of us all,” said Haley. “I wanted to give back to them like they did for us.”

The idea to host a walk came to Haley when she and her grandfather were taking one of their many walks after her grandmother died. Haley talked it up among her friends and family, sent out hundreds of emails seeking support, and spoke to the local newspaper. With help from her brother, she tracked donations on a spreadsheet, opened a special bank account, and asked businesses to supply food, equipment, T-shirts and raffle items. Fifty-six walkers and more than 200 contributors took part in the “Walk 4 Hospice,” held on a high school track on the anniversary of Haley’s grandmother’s death.

Three other students attending Montgomery County Public Schools were recognized as Distinguished Finalists:

Peter Asmuth, 17, of Chevy Chase, a senior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, organized a 5K race that yielded more than $2,500 to support the Diabetes Education Center at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. Peter, whose sister is a diabetic, is also a volunteer EMT with the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad.
Jamie Burke, 16, of North Potomac, a junior at Wootton High School in Rockville, has raised more than $115,000 for ALS research and care over the past several years through a letter-writing campaign in conjunction with her role as the captain of a team for the National Walk to Defeat ALS. Jamie, whose grandmother had ALS, also makes “Knots of Love” fleece blankets for ALS patients.
Richard Rothstein, 13, of Potomac, an eighth-grader at Herbert Hoover Middle School, organized a dance marathon for middle level students called “Be-Cuz We Care,” which raised $13,000 to send children in need to summer camp. Richard hosted the event with a cousin to honor another cousin who had died in a car accident.

In May, the program will name ten national honorees from among the top state winners. The national award winners will receive $5,000, a $5,000 grant for the charity of their choice, a gold medallion and a trophy for their nominating school.

More information is available on the Prudential Spirit of Community web site.

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