Last summer, Laurianne Murphy spent more than 200 hours caring for tots in the infant rooms at the YMCA, all of it volunteer.

“I just think they’re so funny,” said the Lewiston Middle School eighth-grader. “I find it a lot of fun to help.”

In May, she received the 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community Award down in Washington, D.C. for all the hard work, one of two teens picked from Maine. She and her family celebrated at the ceremony held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

Murphy’s got her $1,000 prize money all planned out already: Buy a laptop, spend money on clothes, bank the rest. And you bet, she’ll be back at the Y this summer.

Name: Laurianne Murphy

Age: 13

What’s an average day like in the infant rooms? An average day in the infant room is eight babies needing attention all at one time. When I first walk in the door I would check the babies’ daily schedules and see when they needed to be fed, changed and put down for a nap next. Sometimes, they just want to be held or played with.

What activities do you enjoy doing with the kids the most? Feeding the babies bottles and rocking them to sleep because I love to see them happy and content. It’s so cute. I love to read to the toddlers also because they like having one-on-one attention. They sit in my lap, listen and point to everything on the page.

Any tips for dealing with a fussy toddler? Pick them up and sway back and forth. Give them a toy and play with them. Or, show them something to take their mind off of whatever they’re fussing about.

All that volunteering during the day, do you baby-sit on weekends, too? Yup! I usually baby-sit my 5-year-old brother, but sometimes I baby-sit my parents’ friends’ kids.

Favorite new place down in DC: (It) would have to be the Jefferson Memorial because it is so beautiful and peaceful. It has a lot of writing around the memorial.

Thing that most surprised you about the capital: How beautiful and big the city and its buildings were. Another thing was all the history that surrounded the city. I found out that everything in the city is symbolic. For instance, the Lincoln Memorial isn’t just to celebrate Lincoln as a president, but it represents peace and the stress that comes along with war. It was amazing.

Will you be back at the YMCA this summer? I will definitely be back at the YMCA this summer. I can’t wait to go back and see the babies I worked with last year as toddlers, to see the infants that moved up to toddlers and the new babies that have just started.

In your free time, what do you do for fun? I play basketball, field hockey, hang out with family and friends, and spend as much time as I can at the YMCA.

Activity/sport you’d recommend almost anyone try: Basketball. It is my favorite sport and I think it’s a bunch of fun! I like that you can work on team strength and individual strength.

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