Worthington Daily Globe
Teen's service rewarded
Buesgens (center) of Slayton was honored with the 2004 national
Prudential Spirit of Community Award. She is pictured with
Ryan, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial Inc., and Cindy Rudrud.
Tuesday, May 04, 2004
By Julie Buntjer
SLAYTON - Seventeen-year-old
Whitney Buesgens of Slayton was one of 10
students from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico honored with the national
Prudential Spirit of Community Award as America's 2004 top youth
volunteers. The ceremony was Monday in Washington, D.C.
Buesgens, a junior at Murray
County Central, was recognized for her
work in starting Camp Love's Embrace, a grief camp for children ages 7
to 14 who have lost a loved one. Since forming in May 2002,
camp has tripled its capacity. This year, 18 children will
the overnight camp, and another six are on a waiting list with calls
still coming in.
"I do all the fund-raising
by myself so the camp is completely free to
all of the children," Buesgens said. She got the idea for the
camp after seeing a television news program about a camp in New Jersey
that was available to children who lost family members in the 9-11
"I went to a local social
worker and asked her about the possibility of
starting the camp," Buesgens said. From there, she
board of directors and recruited students from college social work
programs to help children at the camp. She also hit the
to raise money so the camp would be free to participants.
than $10,000 was raised from civic organizations and businesses to
begin the camp.
Buesgens was chosen in
February as one of two Minnesota youth to
represent the state. Nation-wide, more than 20,000
were received for the honor. As a statewide winner, she
a $1,000 money market scholarship, silver medallion and an
all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by Prudential and
the National Association of Secondary
School Principals, the national event honored participants with a gold
medallion, a $5,000 money market scholarship, a crystal bowl to be
displayed at their school and $25,000 in toys, clothing and other
juvenile products donated in their names to needy children in their
area by Kids in Distressed Situations Inc.
During the weekend
activities, Buesgens met Whoopi Goldberg, who gave
an inspiring talk to the youth, and received her award from Cokie
Roberts, a television news personality. Today's events
meeting U.S. Sens. Mark Dayton and Norm Coleman of Minnesota.
Buesgens and the other
honorees participated in group activities over the weekend, and had
free time to tour the city.
"It just humbles you to see
what some of these people can do," she said
of the other national award winners. Among them are teens who
sent care packages to soldiers, conducted book collection drives for
hospital waiting rooms and shelters, and founded a statewide support
group for teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Minnesota's second honoree,
Jenessa Largent, 12, of White Bear Lake,
was also among the 10 national award winners. She designed a
freedom bracelet for U.S. soldiers serving overseas, and has made and
shipped nearly 80,000 of them in the past year. She also
developed a Web site offering the bracelets free to soldiers.
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