Local teen receives volunteer award
Alyssa Baer volunteers with several groups in the community. Baer was awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her dedication to service. (Alyssa Baer/Volunteer)
Local teen Alyssa Baer was given the Prudential Spirit of Community Award for her volunteer work throughout the community. Baer, an 18-year-old senior at Olympus High School, has spent the last four years volunteering at hospitals and created a volunteer club at her school.
“I took what I learned and applied it to the Be Strong group,” Baer said.
The Be Strong group started out small as a group of students dedicated to being healthy and strong. It then grew into an extension group that focused on volunteering. They work with various groups in the community, including the elderly and people with disabilities.
“We try to stay as close as we can to the community,” Baer said. “We try to find different groups that need help.”
Baer’s love of service stemmed from her being diagnosed with scoliosis when she was in the ninth grade and having to have physical therapy.
“I saw how important that work was,” Baer said.
She began working as an aide in the physical therapy office. She helped mostly children who either were injured or were working through pain caused by illness such as cancer.
After volunteering at a physical therapy office, she started an internship at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Salt Lake City.
“It opened up a lot of doors and I was able to branch out from there,” Baer said. “I worked with a variety of people and I learned so much.”
The Prudential Spirit of Community Award honors two teens from each state with an additional group of “distinguished finalists.” Baer was named a distinguished finalist. She will receive a medallion and will be honored not only by Prudential, but also by the Holladay City Council.
“I’m really honored to get it. People have reached out have been very supportive and have shown how much they support what you do,” Baer said. “It’s been a huge learning experience and it has really opened doors.”
Baer is graduating from Olympus High this year. She isn’t sure where she wants to go to college, but said it will probably be BYU where she will study public and global health.
“I want to work with refugees and immigrants and help them make healthy and happy choices as they transition from their old life into their new one,” Baer said.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Award program is the largest youth recognition program in the United States based exclusively on volunteer community service. Started in 1995 by the Prudential and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the program honors middle school and high school students for outstanding service to others at the local, state and national levels.
The two Utah state honorees for 2017 were Kara Hughes of Bountiful and Rebekah Reno of Orem. The other Utah distinguished finalists for Utah were Jessica Cox from Fruit Heights, Emma Ebert from North Salt Lake City and Jensen Hughes from Elwood.
To learn more about the Prudential Spirit of Community Award, visit https://spirit.prudential.com.