February 10, 2016

Manchin, Capito Congratulate West Virginia's Top Youth Volunteers

Sofia Salon, 16, of Daniels and Arin Dorsey, 13, of Fayetteville earn the Prudential Spirit of Community Award

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today congratulated Sofia Salon, 16, of Daniels and Arin Dorsey, 13, of Fayetteville, on being selected as West Virginia’s state honorees and the top two youth volunteers in the 21st annual Prudential Spirit of Community Award. The nationwide program honors middle school and high school students for their exceptional service at the local, state and national levels.

“I have always said that West Virginians are dedicated to neighbors helping neighbors,” Senator Manchin said. “Through their service to others, Sofia and Arin have set extraordinary examples for all of us in West Virginia and should inspire us to make a difference in our own communities. I am proud to congratulate Sofia and Arin for all they have accomplished, and I look forward to the many great things they both will go on to achieve in the future.”

“I have often said that West Virginia is like one big small town. Our people join together to solve problems and help each other in times of need. Sofia and Arin are perfect examples of this caring spirit,” said Senator Capito. “Sofia’s work to battle Alzheimer’s disease, and Arin’s efforts to help the homeless are extremely admirable. I am so proud of these two young women for making a difference in their communities and setting an example that we should all follow.”

Each state honoree will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and a trip to Washington, D.C. in early May for the program’s national recognition events. 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 2016 at that time.

From the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Press Release:

Sofia, a sophomore at Woodrow Wilson High School, organized a 16-hour rocking chair “rock-a-thon” on June 20, 2015, that drew considerable attention in southern West Virginia to the battle against Alzheimer’s disease and raised more than $17,000 for Alzheimer’s research and care. “After watching my grandma having struggles being a caregiver for my grandfather, I was motivated and determined to do something to make a difference for families coping with Alzheimer’s,” said Sofia. She heard that the Alzheimer’s Association promoted various kinds of fundraising activities across the country each year on the summer solstice, and decided she would take part in “The Longest Day” event by creating a rock-a-thon.

Sofia persuaded the Raleigh County Commission on Aging to help with her event and lend its facilities. Then she invited teams from across southern West Virginia to raise money and participate in the rock-a-thon. From 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. on June 20, the teams and other participants rocked in rocking chairs, danced, sang karaoke, played games, and bid in a silent auction. “The most memorable part was when my grandpa sang karaoke, after dancing with my grandma twice,” said Sofia. When it was all over, she had collected $17,258 to fund Alzheimer’s research at West Virginia University and to support caregivers and medical workers in her state, making her one of the nation’s top 10 “Longest Day” fundraisers for 2015.

Arin, an eighth-grader at Fayetteville High School, organized a “Milk and Cookies with Santa” event to entertain local children and solicit donations of toys and money for the homeless. Arin became interested in homelessness after meeting a fellow Girl Scout who was homeless at one time. She began to research the subject, and contacted the administrator of a local homeless shelter to learn more about the needs of its clients. Then Arin asked her Girl Scout council to help her hold a holiday event that not only would delight local youngsters, but also collect donations to brighten the season for homeless people.

Arin distributed invitations through schools to 800 children, secured space from a local church, arranged for donated cookies and decorations, and recruited a Santa Claus and other adults to help manage her event. Afterwards, Arin gathered all of the donations, assembled “care packages” of food and toys, and delivered them to the 130 residents of the Pinehaven Homeless Shelter. “At this point, I learned how donations and giving help reduce their feelings of loneliness and abandonment,” said Arin.