From PRNewswire

An Apopka teenager has been named a Distinguished Finalist in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Jessica Carscadden, 15, a freshman at Apopka High School, is the founder of “We Care Bears,” a nonprofit that has provided more than 35,000 stuffed animals to first responders and organizations around the country to comfort children in traumatic situations. Jessica, who was comforted by a stuffed monkey when she was adopted at five years old, has mobilized kid volunteers as young as six to support her mission.

Carscadden was featured in The Apopka Voice back in October of 2016 for an event she organized in coordination with Wolf Lake Middle School, the Apopka Fire, and Police Departments. To read it, go here.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 23rd year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).

Jessica Carscadden

“Prudential is proud to recognize these remarkable young people for using their energy, creativity, and compassion to bring meaningful change to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope their stories inspire others to consider how they can do the same.”

Since the program began in 1995, more than 120,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, India, China, Brazil, and Poland. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees.

The NASSP is the leading organization of and voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and school leaders from across the United States. The association connects and engages school leaders through advocacy, research, education, and student programs. NASSP advocates on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student and strengthen school leadership practices through the design and delivery of high-quality professional learning experiences. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit


  1. Yesterday we decided to sit in on the CRA meeting at City Hall. We were expecting it to be quickly over, but it ended up going way overtime, and delaying the next meeting which was the regular scheduled city council meeting that was supposed to start at 1:30 pm, but it was 1:57 pm before the CRA meeting ended, as the board was arguing back and forth about mainly the fact that some on the board believed that the meeting should be tabled, to another date in order to give the public more time to come and speak up on what they want their CRA funds to be spent on, plus an opportunity for a presentation to be made, by two persons who have done a lot of work on the CRA, and what they believe the funds should be spent on… that was the sticking point that delayed the CRA meeting……

  2. So then the regular city council meeting started after the CRA let out, and maybe I am wrong, maybe I was in a trance after hearing all that arguing, from listening to the CRA board, the city attorney, and the others, but ……okay, maybe I am wrong, BUT, did the mayor actually skip over the public comment section of the regular city council meeting??? I am asking because it seemed that way to me! I mean, I was right there, I did not plan on speaking or anything like that, but is that how it was? I don’t remember him calling for public comment….I could be wrong. I will have to wait to hear the audio to know for sure, but I don’t remember him calling for public comment at the regular council meeting…after the previous CRA meeting, and that was part of the sticking point that delayed the CRA meeting…some on the board believed that the public should be heard!!! The citizens who are in the CRA borders of the city, mainly. Uh uh uh…….

  3. Ah yes, I listened to the audio. Okay, you can listen for yourself, it is on the last city council meeting’s audio. The mayor stated for everyone to turn their cellphones off, and that if anyone wished to speak at the city council meeting, then to fill out a speaker card, and turn it in, and that we will proceed from there…..sounds on course, right? Well, not soooooo fast….lol, as then the mayor DID NOT ask Linda, the city clerk, if there were any speaker cards, nor did he ask anyone else in the audience if they wished to speak, during the public comment section, as he skipped right on to the next item on the agenda……isn’t he slick?!! He just HATES to hear from the public! Gosh, it must really hurt his ears!


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