15-year-old did volunteer work at YMCA in Summit, NJ.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Akanksha Patel, a 15 year-old girl from Summit, New Jersey, has been declared the winner of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, one of the country’s most prestigious awards given to the most exemplary teenage volunteers in the entire US.
Patel was nominated by the local YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) of Summit, a community center where she does hours of volunteer work every week. Her nomination was first submitted in September of last year; over the course of 2012-2013, Patel would help mentor and take care of the children who came to play at the YMCA, and would even help host birthday parties and other community events at the center.
“Akanksha loves volunteering. It has taught her valuable skills such as patience, responsibility, teamwork, time management and empathy for others,” said Terri Clinton, executive director of the Summit YMCA, in a statement to NJ.com. “Her volunteer activities have helped her to grow by enhancing her social skills and by building relationships with individuals of all ages. She is a very responsible and courteous young lady with a caring nature and, most importantly, she treats everyone with a lot of respect.”
Now, she is receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award, given on behalf of US President Barack Obama by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program. The award’s purpose is to recognize and applaud extraordinary volunteer work done by students in middle and high school.
Patel’s award is the prize’s national recognition award; there are also prizes at the state level, such as the State Honorees, Distinguished Finalists and Certificate of Excellence recipients. Honorees are selected for their “personal initiative, creativity, effort, impact and personal growth.”
“The recipients of these awards demonstrate that young people across America are making remarkable contributions to the health and vitality of their communities,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, in a statement. “By recognizing these students and placing a spotlight on their volunteer activities, we hope to motivate others to consider how they can also contribute to their community.”
The YMCA is a worldwide, non-profit network of clubs and institutions that operates under the belief that “everyone, regardless of income, age or background, deserves the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive.”