Utah’s top middle school volunteer of 2015, Amelia Slama-Catron, 14, was honored May 3 in the nation’s capitol for her outstanding volunteer service during the 20th annual presentation of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Amelia, who is an eighth-grade student at Midvale Middle School, resides in Sandy.
Amelia, along with other top youth volunteers from across the United States and several other countries, received a $1,000 award and personal congratulations from “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
Along with the monetary award, which Amelia plans to put toward her college education, she received a silver medallion and the all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the four days of recognition events.
“I didn’t do something specific for the award, but they highlighted the 120 hours I gave service to Treehouse Children’s Museum in Ogden,” Amelia said. “I have helped coach youth sports teams, helped do yard work and paint a refurbished home for a family who was sheltered at The Road Home, put up flags for the 9/11 Healing Field and helped a younger Girl Scout troop for five years. Service isn’t something I go out of my way to do: it’s just what I do and part of who I am. You don’t have to change the world to do volunteer work. If you just help one person, you have showed you care and changed his or her world.”
Senator Orrin Hatch gives Amelia Slama-Catron a congratulatory hug for her outstanding volunteer service and receipt of the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Photo courtesy of Julie Slama
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary Schools Principals, named Amelia as Utah’s top middle school youth volunteer in February. Her assistant principal, B.J. Weller, submitted a recommendation after Amelia turned in an application.
Weller, who said she is the first student to win the award at Midvale Middle School, presented the medallion to Amelia at a school assembly on April 3.
“I heard about the award five years ago when I saw a Girl Scout receive the award and thought at the time, it was pretty cool. Then, I forgot about it until my mother found information about the award and I filled it out, but never thought I had a chance of winning,” she said.
During the recognition events, Amelia was interviewed about why she volunteers.
“I volunteer because it’s a great way to give back to the community, and I know that is what everyone says, but it is so true. It’s so rewarding to see how it can help you and you can gain experiences you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. It has helped me to expand as a person and opened my eyes to all these different types of people and the needs in our community,” she said.
Amelia also shared her project with Utah Senator Mike Lee and was told by Senator Orrin Hatch, “I’m proud of you.”
Prudential Financial Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld said that Amelia is an example of youth volunteerism today.
“What she has done, just simple acts and giving of herself and time, is what these awards are about,” he said. “These young people have demonstrated leadership, compassion and perseverance.”
Amelia was selected as one of the 102 honorees from more than 33,000 middle level and high school students nationwide who participated in this year’s program. The honorees took time in Washington, D.C. to read, or listen to students read, to kids in inner-city schools.
NASSP President G.A. Buie added, “These honorees represent the best of what America’s youth have to offer. They have set a powerful example for their peers by proving that one young person really can make a difference.”
Amelia said the experience in Washington, D.C. was amazing.
“One of the best parts of the trip was getting to meet other middle school and high school honorees who have impacted our world and proven that teens aren’t all lazy or self-absorbed — that we really care and want to make a difference. It was also memorable to ask Robin Roberts a question about who was one of the most inspirable people or stories she covered and why,” Amelia said.
Amelia also received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for her over 100 hours of service and received a personalized certificate from President Barack Obama.
In addition to volunteering, Amelia is Midvale Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society president, served on student council, plays tenor saxophone in the school band, competes on the intramural cross country, basketball and soccer teams, and participated on the school’s Lego robotics team. She also advanced to the regional levels in history fair and science fair, the latter where she earned a second place special award and third place in her category of environmental management.
Amelia has played piano for nine years, plays the clarinet in the school district’s youth symphony and is a competitive soccer player. She also was a finalist in the Utah Jazz fun shot competition and was selected to attend the Young Women and Science session of the Teton School of Science.
As a nine year member of Girl Scouts, Amelia participates in both the Council’s Miss Media and Advocacy Apprentice programs and was the flag ceremony caller at the national conference this past fall in Salt Lake City. She will be honored this spring as the number two top cookie seller in the state and has earned her Silver Award.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program was created in 1995 to identify and recognize young people for outstanding volunteer service—and in so doing, inspire others to volunteer, too. In the past 20 years, the program has honored more than 100,000 middle level and high school volunteers at the local, state and national level.