May 03, 2010

CARDIN, MIKULSKI CONGRATULATE AWARD WINNING YOUTH VOLUNTEERS IN MARYLAND

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski and (both D-Md.) today congratulated two Maryland students, Forrest Carroll, 17, of Lutherville and Victoria Brown, 14, of Reisterstown, for being named the top two youth volunteers in Maryland for 2010 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.  The two young people - along the top youth volunteers from every other state - were in Washington this week for a gala award ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, where they received $1,000 awards in recognition of their outstanding volunteer work.
"Victoria and Forrest have learned what it means to make a difference in the lives of people," Senator Cardin said. "Forrest has worked to for Habitat for Humanity helping to raise money for affordable housing and Victoria has worked to bring attention to the suffering in Darfur.  I want to commend them for their volunteerism and for all they have done to make world a better place."
 
"When Alexis De Tocqueville wrote about America, he said 'America is great because she is good.' He noticed the spirit of volunteerism, neighbor-helping-neighbor, habits of the heart that bred habits of humanity," Senator Mikulski said. "I'm so proud of Forrest and Victoria for being dedicating to volunteerism at such a young age. Their drive to make a difference has made a real impact on the world and on the lives of others. These young leaders are inspiring examples to all of us and are among our brightest hopes for a better tomorrow."

More than 21,000 young Americans applied for Prudential Spirit of Community Awards this year. Forrest and Victoria were named the top high school and middle level youth volunteers in Maryland last February. In addition to their cash awards, they received engraved silver medallions and an all-expense-paid trip with their parents to Washington, D.C., for this week's recognition events.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards were conducted in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), the program was created 15 years ago to encourage youth volunteerism and to identify and reward young role models.  Since then, the program has honored nearly 100,000 young volunteers at the local, state and national level.
More information about The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards and this year's honorees can be found at www.principals.org/prudential .
Forrest Carroll, 17, of Lutherville, Md., a senior at The Park School of Baltimore, has been a leader of a Habitat for Humanity chapter at his school for the past four years, helping to raise close to $600,000 and build homes for six low-income families. "Since that day when I was accepted as a Habitat leader in ninth grade, Park Habitat for Humanity has been an enormous part of my life," he said. Forrest plays a key role in conducting fund-raisers that bring in more than $100,000 a year, such as an annual 5K run, a phone-a-thon, and a program that does small construction and painting jobs for homeowners in return for donations. He is responsible for organizing, supervising, and working on home construction projects in Baltimore City. In addition, he delivers presentations about Habitat to schools, corporations, and national youth conferences; coordinates with city and school officials; and mentors underclassmen and students from other schools. Forrest is now working on an ambitious new Habitat initiative that will seek to assemble a coalition of schools throughout his region to build an entire block of new affordable homes at a time. "I have learned the incredible impact people can have when they work together as one," he said.
Victoria Brown, 14, of Reisterstown, Md., an eighth-grader at Krieger Schechter Day School in Baltimore, has personally raised more than $1,600 for the Save Darfur Coalition by making and selling safety pin jewelry and chocolate candies, and has spent a great deal of time over the past few years making people aware of atrocities in the Darfur region of Sudan. When Victoria first learned about the situation in Darfur, "what really caught my attention was that, even after atrocities such as the Holocaust and Rwanda, people could still allow such treacherous things to happen to other people," she said.  She joined her school's Darfur club and soon became co-leader of the group. In addition, she began creating beaded safety pins to raise money for refugees. She stayed after school three or four days a week, threading the pins with colored beads in the image of hearts, soccer balls, animals, and American flags. She then sold them at school for $1 each, and received so many orders that she had to teach other young people how to make them. To collect more funds, Victoria made chocolate candies in the shape of smiling faces, and sold them through local businesses with a description of the Darfur crisis attached. "Just the thought that the money I was raising was helping these unfortunate people and giving them healthy food, medical supplies, and clean water was incredibly rewarding," she said. Victoria also talks frequently to others about Darfur, and has participated in lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C.