CLEARFIELD -- Aimee Matheson went to Washington, D.C., knowing she was going to be honored as one of the top youth volunteers in Utah.
But at the ceremony for the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, when she found out she was also one of the top five high school volunteers in the nation, she could not believe it.
"I was not expecting it. It was quite the shock," Matheson said. "It was so incredible. I'm so honored with this award."
Matheson, an 18-year-old senior at Clearfield High School, coordinated the construction of a day care and community center in Guatemala so impoverished single mothers can work knowing their children are in a safe and nurturing place.
In addition, the center provides children with nutritious meals, clothing and basic education and health services.
Matheson was first honored along with Colton Lee, 13, of Provo, as the top two youth volunteers from Utah. Then, after all the state honorees were named, five high school students and five middle school students were chosen as national honorees.
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards is the United States' largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer community service. The program applauds young people who make a positive difference in their towns and neighborhoods.
Just as exciting as winning the awards was the opportunity to meet other young people interested in community service, Matheson said.
"It was such an incredible opportunity to go to D.C. and interact with all these other youths with the same desires and same goals to help their community," she said.
There were more than 29,000 applicants for the awards, said her father, Dwayne. He and his wife, Eve, accompanied their daughter to Washington, D.C., for the award ceremony, which was held Sunday.
As a state honoree, Matheson was awarded $1,000 and a silver medallion. As a national honoree, she won an additional $5,000, a gold medallion and a crystal trophy for Clearfield High.
"I think that's so important because the school helped so much and I couldn't have done it without them," Matheson said.
More than 40 students and 15 parents spent their winter break in Guatemala to build the day care center she envisioned.
The Prudential Foundation also gives $5,000 to a nonprofit charitable organization that is chosen by the national honoree.
Matheson knows exactly where that money is going.
"We plan on supporting the day care until we go down next time. It will pay for a teacher, meals and any other costs for supporting the day care."