Natalie Onesi, an eighth-grader at Ursuline Academy in Wilmington, has been named one of Delaware’s top two youth volunteers for 2014 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national organization that honors young people for their acts of volunteerism.
Natalie, 14, devotes a week every summer to repairing homes for people with injuries or disabilities, according to Prudential. She said she was inspired to volunteer by her church. Two years ago, at the suggestion of a family friends, she and her brother joined a religious retreat that designates a city where some 400 students worked on approximately 60 homes whose owners could not afford to make repairs.
According to Prudential, she spends her days during this retreat not only working, but also building a relationship with the people she is helping.
The other state honoree is Julie Murphy, 17, a junior at Newark High School. She played a key role in running a statewide sleeping bag drive that provided bags to more than 1,000 homeless children in Delaware.
The two girls each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and a trip to Washington, D.C., in early May where they will join the honorees from every state and the District of Columbia. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2014.
Marius Sander, 16, a junior at St. Thomas More Academy in Magnolia, was one of four state finalists. Sander has raised $4,400 for Mom’s House, which provides free childcare to low-income single parents pursuing an education. He raised the money by hosting violin concerts. He started the fundraising concerts in 2010 and also plays violin and saxophone for nursing homes, hospitals and hospice centers.