Quaker Valley High School Students Receive President’s Volunteer Service Award

Six Quaker Valley High School students and one student from Sewickley Academy received the President’s Volunteer Service Award in May for volunteer hours served over the prior calendar year. Three volunteers received the GOLD award for over 250 hours of volunteer service: Kirsten Close, Ruby Krotine, and Lily Pulkowski, all juniors at Quaker Valley High School. Four others, Shea Cunningham, Nora Hammond, Vanessa Pickett, juniors at Quaker Valley High School, and Ashley Close, a senior at Sewickley Academy, all earned the BRONZE award for over 100 hours of volunteer service.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is a prestigious recognition bestowed by the White House that is sponsored and tracked by a local certifying organization. The certifying organization for these seven students was MePower United. MePower is a nonprofit organization founded by Quaker Valley junior Kirsten Close that provides health education and training to eliminate Period Poverty for disadvantaged women and girls. Currently, MePower is working with homeless and trafficked women in El Salvador, training them to make reusable feminine hygiene supplies for themselves and providing them with the opportunity to have a dignified source of income through the sale of these reusable menstrual pads to other women and girls in their communities.

To be eligible for the President’s Volunteer Service Award, each volunteer needed to participate in 15 hours of activities in support of the MePower mission. Additional volunteer hours could be served with other organizations and tracked by MePower. Each awardee, Kirsten, Ruby, Lily, Nora, Vanessa, Shea, and Ashley, demonstrated their commitment to service through volunteer efforts with various organizations in the Sewickley Area. Here is a glimpse of their primary volunteer activities across multiple organizations.

GOLD Award

  1. Kirsten Close (295 hours)- President and Founder of MePower, two service trips to implement MePower programs in El Salvador.
  2. Ruby Krotine (281)- Volunteer researcher in cancer immunology at
  3. Lily Pulkowski (279 hours)- Volunteer researcher at UPMC in cancer


  1. Nora Hammond (126 hours)- Volunteer activities coordinator at Masonic Village and service trip to El Salvador for MePower.
  2. Vanessa Pickett (103 hours)- Volunteer activities coordinator at Masonic
  3. Shea Cunningham (102 hours)- Volunteer Camp Counselor at Stephen’s Summer Camp and traveled to El Salvador for MePower.
  4. Ashley Close (100 hours)- Marketing Volunteer for the Sewickley YMCA and traveled to El Salvador for MePower.


Donations for MePower can be made at https://mepowerunited.org, via Venmo at @MePowerunited, or mailed to MePower United at 324 Broad St, Sewickley, PA 15143. All donations are 100% tax-deductible.


*Learn more about the President’s Volunteer Service Award at https://presidentialserviceawards.gov/



Photo #1 Group (left to right): Ruby Krotine (gold), Lily Pulkowski (gold), Nora Hammond (bronze), Kirsten Close (gold), and Shea Cunningham (bronze)

Photo #2: Vanessa PIckett (bronze)

Source: Dr. Kelly Close, Chairman of MePower Board