Idaho Teens Earn National Volunteer Award


For Immediate Release: Feb. 26, 2020
Information Contact: Renee Bade, (208) 332-3578 ext. 4061

Idaho teens Lilian Smith of Coeur d’ Alene and Kaleb Chatelain of Ammon were named Idaho’s top two youth volunteers of 2020 by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.  The award program, in its 25th year, honors young people in each state for outstanding acts of volunteerism.

Smith and Chatelain will be awarded $1,000 each, an engraved medallion and an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for four days of national recognition events.

Smith, 17, a junior at Coeur d’ Alene High School, co-founded a nonprofit that has organized competitive math teams and/or peer mentoring math programs at 12 local schools over the past three years. When Lilian was in fifth grade, she joined a math team and loved it. But “I knew that many kids in my community, especially at schools that serve low-income families, did not have this opportunity,” she said. So three years ago, Lilian outlined a program that could encourage kids to have fun with STEM subjects while improving their math and critical thinking skills.

Chatelain, 14, an eighth-grader at Sandcreek Middle School, collected cash, gifts and supplies last fall for a charity that provides physical therapy to children with disabilities – children like Kaleb’s 3-year-old cousin, who was born with a gene mutation that has made her unable to speak or hold her body upright. “She brings joy to everyone she sees and is so lovable,” said Kaleb. “I wanted to do something for her and people like her.” Kaleb collected an roomful of donated supplies, gifts and cash donations of almost $300 to donate to Now I Can Foundation in Provo, Utah.

Two other Idaho teens were recognized as distinguished finalists.  Boise’s Vishali Sutharsan, 14, has raised more than $1,000 for Autism Speaks and founded the “Sunflower Lunch Brunch” which connects volunteers with students who have special needs. Emma Watts, 17, of Pocatello is a project manager for Youth Activism Society, which encourages local teens to participate in community service; through this organization, she has helped raise more than $4,000 to help fight food insecurity in southeastern Idaho.

These Idaho teens contribute to Idaho’s status as No. 10 in the nation for volunteering according to the Corporation for National and Community Service. To join in the volunteering, you can find opportunities near you at