Enumclaw’s Sophia DeMarco was honored in the nation’s capital the evening of April 29, highlighted for her track record of volunteer service.
The Enumclaw Middle School student was in the spotlight during the 23rd annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.
DeMarco, 14, was in Washington, D.C., as one of the state’s top two youth volunteers of 2018. She was joined by Phillip Meng, 15, of Vancouver.
The Washington representatives flew to D.C. along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country. Each received $1,000 awards and personal congratulations from Olympic gold medalist and World Cup champion Lindsey Vonn at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.
The Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, named DeMarco and Meng Washington’s top middle school and high school volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.
DeMarco has been a leader in her school and community in promoting environmental protection and other important causes.
“I have always tried to create positive change in my school, neighborhood and community,” she said. So, when she entered middle school, she sought a position on the school’s Associated Student Body council because “I realized we could do more collectively than I could do alone.” One of her principal interests on the council has been to work on projects to protect the environment and to teach others how they can support that mission.
She and her fellow council members started small, staffing a table at lunchtime to show students the difference between items that can be recycled, composted and thrown away. They then ran a campaign to encourage students to use water bottle filling stations with reusable bottles and planted a sustainable garden at their school. Their recycling and water conservation efforts have reduced the school’s overall waste by 70 percent and saved more than 100,000 plastic bottles from being deposited in landfills, DeMarco said. To broaden their impact, she and other ASB members have spoken about environmental topics in classrooms and a senior center, and made videos for their entire school.
In addition, she has volunteered at a local food bank, handed out backpacks filled with food for hungry kids and helped raise money to support women and children in Africa.