The Closing Session of the 2011 National Conference on Volunteering and Service was a fitting end to a great Conference in which it honored Champions of Inspiration for the transformational work they are doing throughout the globe.
We presented the Eli Segal Award, honoring an outstanding AmeriCorps Alum who embodies the essence of citizen service, and the George W. Romney Excellence Award, honoring the outstanding work of a Points of Light HandsOn Network affiliate. Six additional Champions of Inspiration were highlighted for their commitment to their communities and the world at large.
“Now, more than ever, we need service champions – super-empowered citizens who are utilizing new, more powerful tools for change,” said Michelle Nunn, CEO of Points of Light Institute. “These individuals embody that spirit and serve as inspiration to us all.”
2011 honorees included:
2011 Eli Segal Award
- Hope Grows Farm: AmeriCorps alumni Arianne McGinnis and Elliott McGann abandoned comfortable career paths to create Hope Grows, a six-and-a-half-acre sustainable farm in southeast Georgia that produces food for more than 150 families. Each season, Arianne and Elliott teach 10 part-time apprentices and host hundreds of service learners eager to get their hands dirty. They regularly invite volunteers and community members to the farm to feast on good ideas and food.
2011 The George W. Romney Excellence Award
- Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership of Marin: Two years ago, Farrell Swain moved out of a homeless shelter in Marin County, Calif. Wanting to give back, Farrell became a volunteer with the Center for Volunteer and Nonprofit Leadership of Marin (CVNL) He took part in their Flex Projects which are designed to make it easy to “get HandsOn” and participate in meeting community needs. In 2010 alone, CVNL connected more than 8,000 area residents to service, a 28 percent jump from the previous year.
2011 Champion of Inspiration Award
- generationOn Youth Advisory Council: Service is a “now” opportunity, and generationOn’s Youth Advisory Council is taking advantage of this opportunity. These 10 outstanding youth prove there is no age requirement for role models: Jacob Bernstein, D’Andrielle Chee, Milton Dimas, Joshua “Clay” Hurdle, Mohit Jain, Rachel Ley, Lance Oppenheim, Rachel Shuster, Malaika Worsham, Liu Zhen Huang. As Council members, they have two main jobs: teaching their peers how to lead their own projects by creating and shaping tools and guides and educating by example as service ambassadors who share their stories in local communities and on the national stage. generationOn is the youth division of Points of Light Institute.
- Chip Chappelle, UPS: It may not make headlines, but logistics make the difference between dreaming and doing. Such logistical know-how was critically important when Haiti suffered its devastating earthquake in January 2010. UPS transportation manager Chip Chappelle immediately offered his logistical experience. Within 48 hours, Chip and his colleagues activated a plan to get life-saving food, water and medical supplies into the hands of Haitian children and their families. With Chip’s expert coordination, more than 50 humanitarian aid organizations from all corners of the globe have relied on UPS to transport more than 15,000 cubic meters of non-food items to Haiti including water purification tablets, cholera medicine, tents, shoes and construction materials.
- Hands on Tokyo: In 2006, a group of friends launched HandsOn Tokyo to give back to their community. The organization has become a catalyst for a new service ethos across Japan. HandsOn Tokyo developed a volunteer clearinghouse to match people with projects in children’s homes, elderly living facilities, schools for the blind and other places where compassion needs no translation. In response to the March 11 earthquake, HandsOn Tokyo has mobilized hundreds of volunteers and continues to deliver much needed supplies including 20,000 clean towels, 30,000 toothbrushes, comfy blankets, slippers, socks and other items that help people care for themselves and each other.
- Natalie Snider: As science director for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Natalie Snider works to protect our uniquely vulnerable ecosystem. Natalie leads volunteer teams to restore coastal wetlands through plantings, sand fence installations and beach cleanups. In 2010 alone, her program engaged more than 1,800 volunteers from 37 states and three different countries to rehabilitate more than 80 acres of Louisiana’s marshy, muddy, erosion-prone, wildlife rich and precious shoreline. Natalie also generates advocacy through education, providing more than 40,000 volunteers with the information they need to speak knowledgably about wetlands protection issues, empowering them to go out and make the case for large-scale projects in Louisiana and elsewhere.
- Brendon Barclay: Through his Atlanta-based service learning organization, Sustaining Urban Villages, AmeriCorps Alum Brendon Barclay advocates for green-space, transforming schoolyard green-spaces and urban forests into outdoor classrooms for students of all ages. His projects brought together more than 1,000 volunteers last year, restoring school yard habitats and urban parks.
- Camo Quilt Project: Linda Wieck is an example of the power of personal outreach and support to military troops around the world. Linda showed this kind of support to her son-in-law, Todd, in 2006 when she made him her first camo quilt prior to his deployment in Iraq. Since then, hundreds of volunteers have joined Linda on national days of service like Make A Difference Day to send quilts to soldiers. To date, more than 10,000 handmade quilts have been sewn and donated to troops.