Press Releases

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman today congratulated Rachel Deeds of Fayetteville and Riley Strube of North Little Rock on being named Arkansas’s top two youth volunteers of 2014 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program that recognizes young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

“Building strong communities begins with each of us committing to making our state, nation, and world a better place,” said Pryor. “Rachel and Riley took this commitment to heart and are taking strides to improve the lives of countless students in their communities. They’re an inspiration.”

“This is a great honor for Rachel and Riley that recognizes the work they do in the community is important. These young Arkansans are leading efforts to make the world a better place and I congratulate them on their commitment and determination for helping others,” Boozman said.

Rachel Deeds, a junior at Haas Hall Academy in Fayetteville, was nominated for her efforts to provide students in need with school supplies. When Rachel realized that students in her community were discarding unused supplies at the end of the academic year, she organized a recycling effort to gather these supplies and repackage them for a local elementary school. Her program has now been adopted by over 20 schools in Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and has served over 2,500 students.

Riley Strube, a fifth-grader at Cabot Middle School South, serves as a “dance buddy” at local dance studio to help students with disabilities. Each week, Riley attends the “I Can! Dance” class to help students learn new steps, follow directions, communicate with other dancers, and develop the confidence to perform on stage. Riley has also recruited her friends to volunteer in the class.

Chosen as Arkansas’s Distinguished Finalists were Sam Harris of Greebrier, Preston Hyatt of Holiday Island, Kaylee Laster of Pea Ridge, and Raygan Sylvester of North Little Rock.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards partners with the National Association of Secondary School Principals to honor two students from each state—one middle school and one high school—for their volunteer service. State Honorees receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to tour landmarks, meet top volunteers, attend an awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of National History, and visit with their congressional representatives.