Viola Davis pays tribute to South Burlington students Peter (PJ) Forgione and Sophia Thomas

From left, award-winning actress Viola Davis pays tribute to South Burlington students Peter (PJ) Forgione and Sophia Thomas at the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in Washington D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Vermont’s top two youth volunteers of 2019, Peter (PJ) Forgione, 14, and Sophia Thomas, 18, of South Burlington, were honored in the nation’s capital May 6 for their outstanding volunteer service during the 24th annual presentation of The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards.

Along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country, Forgione and Thomas received a $1,000 award and personal congratulations from award-winning actress Viola Davis at an award ceremony and gala dinner reception held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. 

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals, named Forgione and Thomas Vermont’s top high school and middle level youth volunteers in February. In addition to their cash awards, they each received an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip with a parent to Washington, D.C., for four days of recognition events.

Thomas is a senior at South Burlington High School and has been volunteering at the University of Vermont Medical Center’s pediatric unit since 2017.

Forgione, an eighth grader at Christ the King School, spearheaded an effort to fill shoeboxes with useful and fun items for 100 service members in Iraq. In addition, he organizes dinners at Anew Place, an emergency shelter in Burlington.

“We’re impressed and inspired by the way these honorees have identified problems facing their communities and stepped up to the challenge to make a difference,” said Charles Lowrey, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial, Inc. “It’s a privilege to celebrate their leadership and compassion, and we look forward to seeing the great things they accomplish in the future.”

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