HSHS's Bondhus Selected For Award

Katelyn Bondhus was named one of two Arkansas' top volunteers of 2016 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.  The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 21 st year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Katelyn, a senior at Hot Springs High School, volunteers with other young people in her church to serve the less fortunate in her community and state, including working on home improvement and maintenance projects, serving lunch to the homeless, and supporting animal welfare efforts.  It began in seventh grade when Katelyn learned through her church about the Ozark Mission Project (OMP), a series of week-long summer youth camps held at locations around Arkansas to help individuals and families in need of minor construction and yard work.  When she signed up, "I was just doing it because I was told community service looked good on high school applications," she said.  "After attending one week of the program, I realized why people love to volunteer."

For the next several years, Katelyn devoted a "very taxing" week each summer to OMP.  "It is full of hard work," she said, "building wheelchair ramps, painting the insides and outsides of houses, and doing yard work."  But she found it to be such "an amazing, life-changing experience," she recruited all of her closest friends to participate as well.  "I learned that volunteering brings joy to both volunteer and recipient of the work," she said.  As a result, Katelyn has made it a priority to get involved in other community service activities.  During the summer, she and other members of her church's youth group package and serve food to homeless people as a community crisis center.  They also help with painting, cleanup and Humane Society projects during designated church service days.

As State Honorees, Katelyn will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events.  During the trip, 10 students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2016.

Congratulations, Katelyn.