February 08, 2011

Manchin Congratulates West Virginia's Top Youth Volunteers

Lauren Lainer, 17, of Point Pleasant and Kambria Price, 10, of Harpers Ferry earn the Prudential Spirit of Community Award

Washington, D.C. —  United States Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.VA) today congratulated Lauren Lanier, 17, of Point Pleasant and Kambria Price, 10, of Harpers Ferry, who have been named West Virginia’s top two youth volunteers, earning the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. The nationwide program honors middle school and high school students for their exceptional service to others at the local, state and national level. 

“The dedication and commitment to serving others that Lauren and Kambria have demonstrated should inspire all of us to make a difference,” Manchin said. “These young ladies have set a tremendous example for their peers and for all West Virginians, and I am proud to congratulate them for all they have accomplished.”

“I would also like to extend my congratulations to West Virginia’s distinguished finalists for the Spirit of Community Award, Tori Briggs, 18, of Vienna, and Chelsea Hessler, 18, of Berkeley Springs.”

Each state honoree will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-inclusive trip in May to Washington, D.C.  There, the students will meet the top two honorees from each state and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events. Ten of the candidates will be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2011 at that time.

The 16th annual awards program is in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).  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 affiliates of HandsOn Network, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award this past November. More than 5,000 Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria such as personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth

From the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Press Release:

Lauren,a junior at Point Pleasant High School, has been working passionately to prevent or cure cancer for many years, recruiting bone marrow donors, participating in fund-raising events, making speeches to promote awareness, and sharing her own struggle with melanoma. Lauren first became interested in cancer when her city’s mayor’s baby was diagnosed and needed a bone marrow transplant. “My mother and I wanted to help,” she said. “We knew how difficult it was to have a sick baby because my brother was born with hydrocephalus and had brain surgery when he was a year old.”

Together, they organized a bone marrow drive at their church that resulted in a hundred people adding their names to the marrow registry. Soon afterwards, a good friend of Lauren’s mother died of cancer, which added to Lauren’s determination to fight the disease.

She began participating in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life events, eventually becoming assistant captain of a team that has raised more than $86,000, and a chairperson on the county planning committee. She researched what is done with the money raised by Relay for Life, and built a speech around her findings. Lauren also speaks throughout her state to promote bone marrow registration, and to warn young people about melanoma, a skin cancer that she was diagnosed with in 2009, which necessitated several surgeries. In addition, Lauren actively participates in other events that raise cancer funds and awareness, and utilizes her position on the state’s Church of God Student Leadership Team to make sure others think about preventing and fighting cancer. “I want to impact as many lives as possible,” said Lauren. “Nobody should have to deal with cancer.”

Kambria,a fifth-grader at C.W. Shipley Elementary School, loves to help out around her community wherever she sees a need, and has a lengthy résumé of volunteer activities to prove it. For example, she contacts local charities every month to find out what they might need, and then uses social-networking sites and e-mail to give friends and neighbors the opportunity to donate. After going through her neighborhood with a big box to collect donations, she uses her own allowance money to buy additional items that are needed. In the past, she has collected canned and other non-perishable food, clothing, toothbrushes and other personal care items, and blankets and pet food for a local animal shelter.

“I love to jump in and help where I see a need,” said Kambria. “The feeling I receive when I can make one person’s day a little better is so rewarding.” Other examples: she helps a single mother

with her two kids so that she can study, and plays with a special-needs girl next door so her mother can rest. In addition, Kambria has assisted with a “healthy choices” campaign at her school. “By showing love and compassion to the people in my community, I feel like I encourage others around me to do the same,” she said.