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Humphrey honored for her volunteerism

Volunteerism comes easy for 12-year-old Brittney Humphrey who was recently recognized for her selfless act of donating time to assist others through a variety of community service projects. She is a sixth-grader at Cheney Middle School and the daughter of Machelle and Kenneth Wilson of West Fargo.

Humphrey, and Jacob Holm, Valley City, were named North Dakota's top two youth volunteers for 2007 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. The awards program, now in its 12th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

As state honorees, each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion, and an all-expense paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees, one middle school level and one high school student - from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for several days of national recognition events, with ten of them being named America's top youth volunteers for 2007 at that time.

Born in Fargo, Brittney attended grades K-5 at Jefferson Elementary School before moving to West Fargo last year. It was during her last two years at Jefferson that she became an active volunteer, dedicating herself to several different community service projects. The first was volunteering on a regular basis at Bethany Homes in Fargo, where for two years she visited the residents, playing games with them, talking to them, and making them aware that someone really cared about them. Church was another area of focus. When the congregation at Living Hope Baptist Church in West Fargo, began a fund-raising campaign to construct a new building, Brittney started babysitting and walking pets for 75 cents a day and then donated the proceeds to the church for the building fund. A third volunteer effort saw Brittney and a group of her friends collecting trash scattered around a local park and in other areas of her community.

It goes without saying; Brittney is thrilled by the honor. Enjoying a very close relationship with her mom and stepdad, she was informed about it by her dad the minute he came home from work. He had received a phone call earlier from Cheney Middle School officials stating that his daughter had won the award. Principal Rob Kaspari also visited their home to notify Brittney in person. "I was shocked when I heard I got it," she said. "I just fell to my knees and bawled my eyes out. It was a happy, scary feeling but still really cool," Brittney said.

Brittney said she so enjoyed the three to four hours she spent each week at Bethany Homes. "I really started getting into helping the residents clean and doing their chores. And they always said they were happy somebody was visiting and cared about them. We became friends and I looked forward to time spent there." Now living in West Fargo, she isn't able to do it anymore, but thoroughly misses it.

Another area of focus, Living Hope Baptist Church continues to be a very important aspect of her life and she credits her dad's friends, Steve and Sally Hill, with getting her involved. In fact, she plans on donating $100 from the award she received to the church building fund.

She also intends to give $100 to her mother and will place some of it in a college education fund, with her goal set on becoming a family practice physician."

Consequently, schooling now is a priority for Brittney and she is doing well in her classes. She admits that math is a bit of a struggle, saying "it is very hard these days." Her favorite class is social studies "Because Mrs. Brekke is really cool."

Away from the classroom, she enjoys spending time with her family and her pets, Bubbles, a baby Shiatsu; her friendly Terrier Rocker; and her hamster, Cinnamon.

Another pastime she has a fondness for is coloring. "I think it's a kid thing, but I like to do it in my free time."

Right now she is looking forward with enthusiasm to her upcoming trip to Washington, D.C., where she will be accompanied by her mom. While in Washington, the honorees will tour landmarks, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. In addition, ten of them, five middle level and five high school students will be named National Honorees on May 7, by a prestigious national selection committee. Winners at that time will receive additional awards including a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit, charitable organization of their choice.

Brittney is looking most forward to visiting the National Cemetery and laying a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and on a lighter note, visiting the Hard Rock Café. She also intends to shop for her dad. "We will be going a day before his birthday so I want to bring a special gift back for him."

Brittney encourages other people to get involved with volunteerism and to apply for future awards, but she also urges them to do it for all the right reasons. "When I applied I didn't do it for the money; I did it to help other people out. My mom always taught me 'don't think about just yourself, think about others first,' so that's what I try to do."

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is part of a broad youth service initiative by Prudential that includes a youth leadership training program administered by the Points of Light Foundation. More information is available by visiting or