Alaska students win Spirit of Community Awards for volunteerism

Katherine Dolma of Homer and Leah Smith of Palmer have been selected as Alaska’s top youth volunteers for this year by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards. Each will receive a $1,000 award, a silver medallion and a trip to Washington, D.C., in May for recognition.


Dolma, a senior at Homer High School, launched a three-day nature camp for girls who have experienced traumatic events. She arranged for facilities at Kachemak Bay, scheduled activities, planned menus, collected gear, and worked with agencies to recruit campers.

Smith, an eighth-grader at Colony Middle School, lends her musical and leadership talents at church, helps in the church nursery and participates in musical theater events.

Ellie Hakari of Palmer (formerly Juneau) and Jessica Roper of Soldotna were named distinguished finalists, as well.

Hakari, a senior at Colony High School, raised money to fund outdoor exercise equipment at the Alaska Veterans and Pioneer Home in Palmer.

Roper, a senior at Kenai Central High School, is an emergency response volunteer with Central Emergency Services, where she began a project to fund a swiftwater rescue program for firefighters.

For more on the program, visit


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