Inspiration Honor Roll
Celebrating Outstanding Individuals
As a volunteer for the nationwide organization, dedicated to helping people affected by MS, Diane, a former nurse, has connected MS survivors to resources, and served as a source of support and advocates for change for those moving every day in the fight for their lives. Most recently, joining the call for help in the immediate wake of the pandemic outbreak, Diane has extended her volunteerism by sewing thousands of masks for residents in 48 states across the country.
Daily Point of Light Honoree
As an Air Force key spouse for her husband’s squadron, Amanda Solis has participated in creating social distancing events for her husband’s squadron. She also started a virtual recipe-swap group for military families on Facebook group called, Quarantined and Hungry, with nearly 300 active members. In addition, Amanda has participated in mask making and has made masks for airmen in need for face coverings. Most recently, she hosted a virtual show-and-tell for her husband’s squadron, and is always looking for new ways to keep up morale for military families. Before being a key spouse she previously volunteered for a cancer group called, Pink Warrior Angels. Amanda has also volunteered and received sponsorship for the Copperas Cove Five Hills pageant. Amanda is a great volunteer and is making her community great by being actively involved and on top of things!
Divya Rath has been working very hard during the COVID-19 pandemic to help provide free, online, live tutoring to children around the world in need of additional assistance due to school closures. When Divya first started the nonprofit Global Guru, only one 30-minute tutoring session in mathematics occurred once a week with a child in Pre-K. Now, she has molded the organization into a tutoring platform that hosts 57 classes every single week. Global Guru has 60 active tutors that have amassed 475+ teaching hours, & the organization has 80 active students participating in classes. The efforts to improve academic access allow students to learn for free, while still advancing their education.
Emily has a huge heart for refugees! She serves on our jewelry team helping refugees learn crafting skills to gain dignified income. Going above and beyond that, she visits many of our refugee families at home, making sure they have food and other necessities, and organizes Christmas gift drives for the children each year. She takes the time to build relationships and is not deterred by language and cultural differences. In response to the pandemic, Emily sewed masks to sell and donated all the funds back to Forai so we could continue to employ our refugee artisans. Emily is truly a light to many in the St. Louis refugee/immigrant community!
Daily Point of Light Honoree
Henry McGrath is being honored for creating and financing out of his own pocket strong community programs such as: Neighborhoods Against Drugs since 2017; NY Region Adult Survivors of Child Abuse since 2016; MutualAid of NYSouthern Adirondacks; NY Veteran Survivors on Facebook serving our veterans since 2016; and so much more. In addition, Henry also unselfishly funds and edits several online publications. He is the creator and host of VOP FreedomRadio, an online radio that gives a voice to families/communities on issues otherwise not covered by media. He does all this with “widows benefits” from Social Security and is an excellent example for others!
Lyndsey serves as the chair for the Junior League of Tampa’s Diaper Bank Project, which supplies diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream, and period products to nine community nonprofit agencies on a monthly basis, and many more on an as-needed basis. These community partners include organizations working toward preventing child abuse, supporting victims of domestic violence, and supporting teen parents balancing parenthood and completing school. Since its inception in 2018, the Diaper Bank has distributed over 454,000 diapers. Over 207,000 of those diapers have been distributed since March during Covid-19 relief.
Daily Point of Light Honoree
David Yoon has impacted the lives of hundreds of youth, especially an underrepresented demographic, serving as a camp counselor, mentor, group leader & year-round volunteer. He started Plastic Free NC as a youth-led conservation & awareness initiative to help reduce & provide alternatives to single-use plastics. As we consider riding a bike to be a childhood rite of passage, many youth in our area do not have that opportunity. David has taught numerous children how to ride, helped to collect, repair & donate hundreds of bikes to youth/adults. He has built raised bed gardens & donated produce to the hungry. Creating positive change, especially during COVID, has not been easy. David continues to seek & find innovative & safe ways to impact our community.
Teon Wilson founded Prime Fit Youth Foundation in August 2019 as a way to better support and provide resources to at-risk youth and their families. Before COVID, he was in schools daily mentoring 150 boys and providing support for educators in 6 schools. When COVID hit and required our schools to close, Teon remained engaged in mentoring and offered continued mentoring and support for local youth and families. Most recently, he organized and executed a free obstacle course event for youth and families. This event took hours of planning and promoting and was so well received that he is planning to hold these free events monthly in an attempt to keep kids and families engaged in positive, healthy interactions.
Nominated by Kim
Ithzel & Eric are an engaged pair of traveling nurses who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic.They worked in Seattle at the hotspot hospital during the height of the pandemic.
They are incredible nurses and everyday heroes! For the last 3 years Eric and I have been travel nurses across the U.S. We have made countless memories along the way! We have even gotten engaged while traveling together! On our latest assignment in Anaheim, California, we were faced with the pandemic. Our respective units were chosen as the designated COVID units. We had a front row seat to the reality of what this pandemic is. We saw patients take their last breaths without their loved ones by their side. But we also got to see some patients leave the hospital after months of battling COVID 19 and not seeing their families. As frontline workers we were faced with scarcity of PPE supplies. We wore full on PPE for our 13 hour shifts, this often meant going hours without something as simple as a drink of water. Despite this and the potential threat to our health, our commitment to our patients and our profession was never wavered. We are now back home in El Paso, TX and continue to help fight the pandemic in our local community. Although we have since postponed our wedding, we are forever grateful for the opportunity to give back to our community through our work.
Nominated by Brenda Solis
For the past 10 months, Megan Ahern has served with the Montana Campus Compact – AmeriCorps State program. Megan has demonstrated an intense commitment to supporting the Salish Kootenai College Upward Bound program. Through her efforts many Native American students and tribal descendants on the Flathead Indian Reservation have received support in college access, even during the COVID-19 crisis, an occasion to which Megan has risen admirably. She continues mentoring virtually, and has taken it upon herself to coordinate a community art book for the Flathead Reservation, which features the works of young people to build community morale while creating a record of the historic time.
Divya Mamidi has created an empire for good at the age of 14. In one year alone she has founded the nonprofit organization, Kicks4Keeps, which has donated over 1000 pairs of shoes to impoverished children globally and advocated for low-income teens in California amidst concerns of Corona Virus. She has conducted interviews with medical professionals to spread awareness for COVID-19 and held meetings with senators to discuss the mitigation of issues facing teens today. Divya’s service may be deemed inspirational simply because what sparked her story is not extraordinary at all. By watching the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” and witnessing the true perils of poverty she was brought to tears. She decided to use her tears productively and is fighting for a time in which “Slumdog Millionaire” no longer reminds her how much work there is to be done but rather how far we have come. Divya has proven that all you need to be exemplary is empathy.
Daily Point of Light Honoree
Jodie is a photographer who uses her talent to help families battling cancer. She is continuing her work during this time by joining the #FrontStepsProject in her community. She’s taking $25 donations for a 5-min photoshoot and 100 percent of the proceeds go to Social Services of Ridgewood and Vacinity.
Daily Point of Light Honoree
Katie’s Krops now has 100 gardens growing across the country and has donated thousands and thousands of pounds of fresh produce to people in need. The mission of Katie’s Krops is to empower youth to start and maintain vegetable gardens of all sizes and donate the harvest to help feed people in need, as well as to assist and inspire others to do the same. And now, as she continues her work to end hunger, Katie is adjusting her organization’s offerings to make sure hungry families can still receive food amidst the Coronavirus pandemic, swapping what used to be a monthly garden to table dinner for weekly drive-up dinners for her community.
Daily Point of Light Honoree
With one short post on Facebook, Simone set in motion what has become a community-based response to the COVID-19 pandemic, making over 4,500 food deliveries to seniors sheltering at home since mid-March. As a co-founder of Invisible Hands, Simone is volunteering alongside two fellow co-founders, including family friend Liam Elkind. According to 20-year-old Liam, a rising senior at Yale University currently living in New York City, Invisible Hands is delivering more than just food to seniors.
Daily Point of Light Honoree
Since the social distancing and stay-at-home orders were put in place, Trinity has been thinking of ways within guidelines to contribute to those in need. As a college student, the effects of COVID-19 hit close to home. On April 5, with as little contact as possible, she took action and went grocery shopping and donated non-perishable items to the Suffolk Christian Fellowships’ Food Pantry. This organization has been working tirelessly to provide citizens with hot meals, dry foods, and fresh produce. She couldn’t think of a better organization to donate to for her birthday fundraiser, which totaled 45 pounds.
Daily Point of Light Honoree
Around her hometown of St. Cloud, Florida, Toni Casto is affectionately known as The Pillowcase Lady. Toni began making pillowcases covered in cheerful patterns such as Superman or Hello Kitty to send to pediatric cancer patients. Because of their weakened immune systems, these children usually cannot bring their own stuffed animals or favorite blankets from home to cheer them up. Toni sews each pillowcase by hand using fabric donated by her friends and family, and, to ensure that they are sterile, steams each pillowcase and seals them in a plastic bag. Since retiring in 2014, she has sent over 2300 pillowcases to patients at Nemours Children’s Hospital, putting a smile on the face of countless children. Toni is currently making masks for nurses in her community to help keep them safe.
Daily Point of Light Honoree
Richard is an outstanding member of his community. While completing law school, working full time serving veterans and their families, serving with his church he continuously strives to help everyone, serving on many boards & committees across San Antonio all while being an incredible family man. Richard has accomplished so much but a few notable items in the past year include: Director & committee member of the year for the San Antonio Rodeo board after he implemented the wounded servicemember program & raising $60,000. Enabling over 500 wounded servicemembers & first responders to have a VIP experience at the San Antonio Rodeo. Richard directed his fifth 9/11 Heroes Run in September for TMF uniting his community and raising money for the Patriots’ Casa.
Nominated by Tina Saari
Tara is a middle school science teacher in New Jersey. Tara has always been an incredible light and advocate for her students but, particularly during COVID, her care for her students has been incredibly evident. In her partnership with the Travis Manion Foundation, Tara early on identified that her students could benefit from messages of hope and love, and enlisted our youth mentors to talk with her class over a Zoom call. As Tara navigates this new school year, her paramount care is ensuring she can build and sustain the crucial positive relationships her students will need to thrive. Tara is an immensely dedicated teacher and an inspiration among her community.
Nominated by Rebecca Forbes
Lewis has coordinated a huge effort around securing meals. He’s gathered local chefs/restaurant owners to cook meals, and procured a refrigerated truck to pick up and deliver meals during the pandemic. For months food reached frontline healthcare workers enduring extended shifts, people out of work, populations affected by the shutdown, individuals with disabilities, and underprivileged families/kids/seniors in some our local housing projects. In addition, he started an adopt a family/person program to individuals in the housing projects who may need assistance. Lastly, Lewis also got sports equipment donated to the kids. Hundreds and hundreds of meals were donated and delivered all because of his effort. But it reaches further – think of the hundreds and hundreds of individuals he’s helped from being exposed to the virus.
Nominated by Hope House Foundation, Director of Development, Elena Montello
Joseph Zhong founded, Joy of Music, an organization that brings multiple generations together through playing live music at retirement homes, to raise the cultural awareness, and to inspire the next generation of leaders. Due to Covid-19, Joseph and his group have stopped in-person visits to senior communities; however, their care for the elderly continues. They made greeting cards and delivered small gifts and cookies to the elderly, and brought virtual music to isolated seniors.
A donation in Joseph’s honor was given by Ping Yang
Olivia, who at age 12, has volunteered and led more volunteer efforts than most adults. In under 3 years, in honor of her mother, a breast cancer survivor, started Olivia’s Pink Lemonade and Cookie stand, and raised nearly $10K for the North Shore Kellogg Cancer Center. During the pandemic she has been regularly writing and sending her origami art to two different home-bound seniors, made cookie packets with origami ninja stars with positive messages for CTA workers, and is daily walking and leaving positive messages for our local hospital, firefighters and CTA staff at el stops. She is constantly doing things to help others and is my point of light and an example to others. Thank you for your consideration.
Dr. Hieu founded the, Youth Who Excels Awards to honor Asian American students for 15 years (2005-2020) for academic excellence and dedicated service to the community. Dr. Hieu is a volunteer extraordinaire. For 10 years, he taught self-development, team working skills, and servant leadership classes to more than 2500 students free of charge.The aforementioned social and educational services listed above have been conducted by Dr. Hieu for 15 and 10 years, respectively as an unpaid volunteer of The Nghia Sinh Intl, Inc., also known as, Volunteers for Human Service & Leadership Development.
Nominated by, Viet Hoang
Jennifer founded Beauty Marks for Girls, a nonprofit uplifting and supporting young women whose mothers are incarcerated, based on her own experiences in order to help others break the cycle of generational incarceration. Jennifer works tirelessly to assure these girls’ needs are met, going above and beyond to cultivate a lasting impact on not only material needs but also their emotional well-being and education. She gives a voice to the often-forgotten victims of incarceration, cultivating a lifetime of opportunity for the girls. During the pandemic, she did everything possible to ensure every girl’s needs continue to be met. Between care packages, access to internet for schoolwork, and fundraisers, she continues to overcome any challenge.
Nominated by, Sanya Martinrazm
Carolyn Pugh stepped up early during pandemic to insist that she continue volunteering at the home of her client, a 90-year-old blind woman. She knew that loneliness would take its toll on her client and donned herself with any protective equipment she could get her hands on in order to stay with her client and her client’s caregiver. When all others took a step back, Carolyn took a step forward. She was even featured in the local news for her efforts. As a result, her client was able to maintain good physical and mental health at a time when both would have otherwise declined. At Council on Aging, we understand that companionship and friendliness is a form of healthcare, one that Carolyn Pugh excels at.
Nominated by, Josh Newby
Will is a mentor with the Travis Manion Foundation’s youth mentorship program, Character Does Matter. Will has been dedicated to sharing his leadership lessons with our young adults in New Jersey to support their character and leadership development. Will, a Marine Corps veteran, is also an active member of his community, giving back to his military community through his work at Prudential, but also by volunteering his time to deliver supplies to the East Orange VA during COVID. Will’s dedication to his community of veterans and to our next generation of young leaders is certainly emblematic of Travis Manion Foundation’s motto, “If Not Me, Then Who…”
Nominated by, Rebecca Forbes
Randall Roca is a retired New York Police detective who is the co-founder of Mentari Human trafficking survivor Empowerment Program Inc., a nonprofit organization based in New York that helps victims and survivors of human trafficking. He is tireless volunteer who make sure survivors receive proper treatment and help in their reintegration back into society independently. He distributed education comic book to 25,000 students and educate them about human trafficking. He transports survivors who need help. Randall has dedicated himself to help 550 survivors, and ensure they receive proper treatment. During pandemic,he distributed groceries packages to 52 survivors in New York – 5 boroughs. He never refuses to help anyone. Lastly, there is a need to address human trafficking and the effects on its victims. By increasing public awareness, resource development, victim services, mentorship and survivor empowerment we can stop this modern day slavery.
A donation in Randall’s honor was given by Mentari
Aidan Peterson has been volunteering for the last two years to play cello bedside for patients at the VA Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. When the pandemic struck and visitors were prohibited, he refused to let his music stop. He started playing porch concerts for the elderly. By May, the hospital had acquired an iPad and Aidan was back playing bedside virtually. Once a week the hospital connected with him and he would play for patients. He even created a custom YouTube channel for the hospital so that they can share his playing 24/7. He was the brightest light for so many people during this dark time. In July he also resumed playing live Taps at military funerals and has performed at least one funeral every week. During the pandemic he impacted countless families. Aidan played at nearly 100 funerals and events honoring the military. Aidan has been an active volunteer for the Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps for the last 5 years. When he joined he was one of the two youngest volunteers we had at the time. Aidan is now 14. He has traveled over 5,000 miles and performed over 500 volunteer hours for the military community. His service earned him the gold Presidents Volunteer Service awards 2016-2019. He was the driving force behind PA Senate Bill 540, which gives student musicians an excused absence from school to sound Taps.
A donation was given in Aidan’s honor by Katie Prior
Nadia Malik is a co-founder and CEO of Teens United and has worked to guide the organization as it grows and create the first mission which is shopping for essential items for seniors and immunocompromised individuals so they don’t need to risk their health. Nadia is also very passionate about helping out in her community. She is always there to help others and is always willing to devote her time to volunteering. Nadia’s impacts in the community and beyond on amazing and she definitely has a bright future ahead of her, especially the way she devotes her time and energy.
Nominated by, Dalayna
Mr. Metzler has been a volunteer with Retired Senior Volunteer Program in Ashtabula County, Ohio for many, many years. He has poured his heart, soul, and time into making the Geneva Food Pantry something of which to be proud. Henry has logged over 4,775 hours volunteering, including over 220 since the pandemic began in March. Despite the health scare, Henry knew what needed to be done. At 87 years old, he continued to drive to food pick-up sites several times a week, deliver , unload, and stock pantry shelves, feeding those in need throughout Geneva, Ohio. His dedication and kind heart cannot be matched. The community is better for having Henry to spread kindness and support. Henry was named Citizen of the Year in 2015 by the Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce. His countless hours of volunteerism, efforts, and leadership have contributed to a stronger community. Henry has played a significant role for many years collaborating with multiple organizations to help the Geneva Food Panty be as successful as it is today. An immeasurable amount of people have been on the receiving end of Henry’s kind heart and actions. Henry is a gem, and Geneva, Ohio is better off for having him part of their community.
Nominated by, Christine Brown
Milagros Betharte has been a volunteer with the Community Service Society of New York, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program for over four years. She has mentored young people in the juvenile justice system, helped people with conviction histories read and repair their NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services rap sheets, and tutored math. Thanks to Milagros over 35 students passed their High School Equivalency (HSE) exam. And when the pandemic hit New York City, Milagros continued her service work via Zoom making sure vulnerable young people had support despite not being able to meet in person. Her dedication and determination keeps all of us inspired!
Nominated by, Mary Anne Flanagan
Debbe Magnusen is the Founder, CEO, and volunteer for Project Cuddle, a nonprofit organization established in 1994. In those 26 years Debbe has helped save 839 babies to date. Every day, Debbe helps frightened girls and women in making safe and legal decisions by providing safe and legal alternatives to abandoning their newborn babies. It’s truly amazing! She’s even been featured on Oprah for her recognized charity years ago. Day after day, Debbe works tirelessly trying to find and help woman and girls who need support and assistance. Her work is truly incredible and has touched so many lives, however it always seems there are more girls/women who need help than there are funds to help them.
Nominated by, Nico
I am a frequent shopper at the supermarket where this awesome cashier by the name of Angela works. Angela is always smiling and she uplifts everyone especially during these times. She provides comfort to others through giving out boxes of tea to the customers who are waiting on the line to get into the store. She is a special cashier with a very special heart! Angela fills the store with so much positivity and joy! She sings Beatles tunes, which makes for a really fun time at the grocery store!
Nominated by, Marissa
Maxwell Surprenant co-founded Catching Joy, Inc., when he was 5 years old. In the last 12 years, he’s aided 70+ organizations & mobilized over 75,000 people- mostly an army of youth. He led a Catching Joy Marathon: 26 Ways to Make a Difference, in which he rallied thousands of kids & adults to do good while staying home. He’s assembled 1000+ blessing bags filled with hygiene products and hearts for the most vulnerable- sick, elderly, & homeless. He’s made and collected thousands of decorated paper hearts with positive messages and sent them out into the world to spread empathy, creativity, kindness, love, hope, and peace.
Nominated by, Joy Olaes Surprenant
Joseph Hanna is the Founder and President of Bunkers in Baghdad. Bunkers in Baghdad collects and ships golf equipment to our troops, vets and warriors around the world. To date, Bunkers in Baghdad has collected and shipped 11 million golf balls and 900,000 golf clubs to our brave men and women around the globe (80 countries and all 50 states). Eleven years ago, Joseph read an article in GOLF Magazine that inspired him to start this nonprofit. It has gone on to help thousands of troops and vets with their rehabilitation and recreation. Joe has also set up a Bunkers Buddies program where he has worked with thousands of school children across the US to also give back and support our troops through writing letters and packing golf balls.
Nominated by, James
Khloe Joiner is 8 years old. She started a project called A Book and a Smile after meeting Officer Berry of the Missouri City Police Department. She was encouraged to start this project because of her fear of police. She believes that a gift of a book will help ease children’s fears when they encounter police. Khloe has now given more than 6,000 books. The first books were purchased with money she saved. Other books were from donations and her own money. Instead of having a birthday party, she gave away 200 books and she recently received 1,000 books from Disney!Khloe’s goal is to give away 1,000,000 books. Her dream is to one day have a bookmobile so that she can give books to children everywhere. One of my biggest accomplishments is being able to provide children in my community with new books. The books I donate are for babies through high school. More than 6,000 children have received new books through my project, A Book and a Smile. Seeing smiles on children’s faces when they receive new books is the best feeling in the world.
Nominate by, Billye Moutra
After Maddison Thayer was crowned Miss So. Maine Preteen on January 25, 2020, she was inspired to create an organization that would initiate change and evoke kindness in all. Knowledgeable about bees and the impact they have on the environment, and the importance to our ecosystems, Maddie quickly made the connection that kids are like bees, and they need to be kind so the world can thrive. Kindness was never more present than in May of 2017 when Maddie sustained a treadmill accident which brought her to Shriners’ Hospital. The kindness shown to her inspired her to start an organization to carry on the kindness she was shown. Be Kind, Be Brave and Be the Change became the platform for her nonprofit organization, BRAVE BEES. Maddie is also addressing bullying in schools. She knew that her biggest obstacle was going to be convincing the 1,408 kids that they are the future of ending bullying. She developed the “Queen Bees and Kind Colonies” idea; anti-bullying peer activists in schools, who join her movement and work hard to change the mindset of bullies.
A donation in Maddison’s honor was given by Brenda Pollock
Ashley is the CEO of her own 501(c)3 Sargeant’s Army, where she sews cat toys and blankets to donate to shelter cats. When the pandemic hit she switched to sewing masks and donated them to hospitals and essential workers. So far she has donated close to 500 masks. After hearing about how the homeless youth in Phoenix needed masks and supplies she is currently coordinating a PPE kit drive to provide handmade masks, sanitizer and personal hygiene items to the homeless youth. Her goal is to provide over 400 Hope bags. Distribution is set for early September (currently waiting on items for the bags). She’s also been writing notes to police, firefighters and the deployed troops to thank them during this difficult time. Also sending cards to senior centers.
Nominated by DeAnn Nevison
Mark Stempak and David Bisignani have gone above and beyond to ensure homebound seniors receive food assistance. In April, as a response to the pandemic, RSVP of Mahoning Valley partnered with other agencies to deliver boxes of food from a food bank to seniors unable to go pick up the food themselves due to the pandemic. It was quickly realized that many of the seniors who receive this service would need it in the long term. Mark and David both stepped up to help this program grow and sustain. They pick-up, package, and deliver food every week. Their continued service and support make this program possible. Over 400 unique persons have been served since April, and 1,600 boxes of food have been packaged and delivered. And it continues to grow.
Nominated by Leah Sakacs
Will has connected different organizations and individuals of his community together to come together to improve and enlarge community gardens that serve the people of Columbus in numerous ways. Not only do the gardens provide greenery and nature in a city landscape for community members to enjoy but Will has worked with organizations to lay the foundation for the gardens to provide fresh produce to members of the community that are in a food desert. Will works as a main conduit between numerous large organizations to make sure that the gardens are kept beautiful, maintained, and productive in order to serve the Columbus community as a whole. One of Will’s greatest accomplishment was being accepted and participating in the first inaugural cohort of the George W. Bush Presidential Center’s Stand-To Veteran’s Leadership Program. As a participant in the program, he gained the knowledge, access to resources, and leadership skills necessary to help transitioning veterans find meaningful careers in Central Ohio.
Nominated by Kelsey Hannah
Bill has started a nonprofit business model that should be implemented in every city worldwide. One of the goals tackled by this nonprofit includes food waste – which adds food to implement culinary job training and create jobs. Now the food waste, culinary job training, and jobs created all work for the common goal to feed all those in need such as the homeless, elderly, emancipated youth, food insecurity, and those that are currently suffering from Covid-related issues. After a successful 35 year career in fine dining, Chef Bill Bracken hung up his chef coat and strapped on an apron to launch Bracken’s Kitchen. He still cooks quality, delicious food, just for a different clientele–Orange County’s most vulnerable. Bill works passionately with 4 goals: Rescue food to not send as waste to the landfills; re-purpose quality; recovered food to make meals; create a path out of poverty through culinary training; and feed quality meals with dignity.The pandemic caused significant increase in need and substantial changes. Bill and team have prepared and distributed over 1M meals, hired 16 new employees (chefs who lost their jobs) and have 50 agency partners. Bill is leading the charge against food waste and serving those in need.
Nominated by Jessica Bowen
Big & Mini is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded by, Allen Zhou, Aditi Merchant, Anthony Zhou, with a mission of eradicating loneliness. Founded in April this year by UT Austin freshmen, their platform connects young people and seniors citizens through technology. In 4 months, Big & Mini has grown to more than 1,000 users from 47 states and 18 countries and has been featured on the TODAY Show–helping recruiting over 1,500 volunteers. Now the organization has volunteers from 50 states and 22 countries with 500,000+ minutes of calls.
Nominated by Allen Xu Zhou
Sue Reeves volunteers at the Children’s Advocacy Center for Rockwall County as a volunteer coordinator. She volunteers her time weekly for our organization. She has volunteered over 600 official hours and unofficially volunteered prior to our organization opening it’s doors. She helps keep volunteer records updated and helps organize volunteer programs. She was pivotal in the development of the program and has been working tirelessly to learn new programs, technology, and to pivot with necessary changes we implemented due to COVID-19. She has continued to serve through out the pandemic, including ensuring the facility is thoroughly sanitized and clean for the child victims of abuse we serve. The center is grateful for her contributions.
Nominated by, Farrah Brabson
Victor Durrah is the founder of Brothers Restoring Urban Hope. He has organized unity rallies and educational forums during our current racial crisis. His organization has provided food and supplies for families impacted by COVID 19. BRUH Mentor has held Back to School drives and provided backpacks and supplies for children. They have partnered with others to provide free COVID-19 testing. Mr. Durrah mentors several youth. He is truly invested in his community. One of Victor’s biggest accomplishments has been the ability to work with over 3000 volunteers and serve over 20,000 youth for the last 15 years through our mentoring networks. During the pandemic, collaborations with community partners and financial supporters have allowed BRUH to provide 1000 book bags and supplies to youth for back to school season. In addition, they have provided free produce to over 3000 families during the month of August. Lastly, they helped register over 250 voters and counting during local events and have completed 78 Census surveys in our efforts.
Nominated by Adom Appiah
Captain (Retired) William Lennon, USMC, has long been a contributor to the Snohomish Community. A selfless volunteer and servant, this JROTC instructor serves weekly at the Snohomish Food Bank and invites volunteers from his network to assist. This food bank carries additional burden because of the pandemic. Volunteering inside and bringing help was not enough, Lennon recognized the exterior needed an overhaul and, during this time,volunteers have fewer obligations and time to give. He gathered volunteers and donations to start this summer project. Will lives ‘If Not Me Then Who,’ and Snohomish Washington and Travis Manion Foundation are fortunate to have him serving and leading in ranks.As a Marine Corps JROTC instructor for 13 years, he has taught, mentored, and lead well over a 100 students each year, instilling in them a desire to serve in their school and community.
Nominated by Charlene Miseli
Dr. Khatri is a front line hero. His leadership and vision not only provided supportive education to families and children, built connections that embraced all age groups but also provided opportunities to serve one another by inspiring volunteerism. Dr. Roshan Khatri, Executive Director of Headwaters Relief Organization led an immediate response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In just a few weeks under his leadership he established with an all-volunteer work force several initiatives that include a phone-pal program, a home school assistance program, and a mask sewing initiative. The Phone Pal program connected volunteers to people isolated at home through weekly support calls, the Home School Assistance Program provided support to parents educating their children at home and the Mask Sewing Initiative allowed people with sewing abilities to fill the critical demand for face masks. In addition to these responses, a coloring book When We All Stayed Home was created. This book helped to explain the Coronavirus and assisted children and families in processing their feelings and coping with the uncertainties of this time. There were 5,000 books in the first printing, half of which were offered for a donation of $5 each. For each donation of $5.00, an additional book was to donated a to a family with less resources.
Nominated by Dr. Rebecca
On March 1st the technical support team, 4 FT volunteers launched a COVID-19 website section and “#StrongerTogether” social media campaign on health & safety precautions encompassing resources during stay at home orders to thrive during the pandemic. All aspects of the pandemic were addressed using visuals for easy info dissemination to the public that predated WHO and CDCs visuals. Customized masks/t-shirts for high-risk populations. IAES information quickly expanded to the global public This team’s success saved countless lives, providing resources for students, parents, medical professionals, families that resulted in stopping the spread & increased daily acts of kindness via their #CoronavirusCommunityChallenge.
A donation in IAES’s honor was given by Tabitha Orth
Nisha Mandani is the founder of Our AIM Foundation, an organization that empowers and advocates for underserved populations across the world. Our AIM has helped over 3 million poor people in Malawi, India, Pakistan, as well as refugees from Myanmar, Palestine and Syria. Under Nisha’s guidance, Our AIM has made medical mission trips to refugee camps and rural villages around the world. She is a pillar in the Tampa Bay community. This year, Our AIM delivered 95,000 reusable hand-made masks to medical centers around southwest Florida. Most recently, Our AIM partnered with UNICEF to make and deliver 15,000 sanitary pads to women in Malawi. In India, Our AIM has supported over 50,000 orphans through our education projects, as well as offering 20,000 women vocational training in sewing and jewelry-making. In Pakistan, they have built 310 Bore wells, 167 homes, and 350 toilets, in the Thar Desert, a region that knows much poverty. In Our Rohingya Camps, they have built 500 homes, 389 Bore Wells, empowered 25,000 women through our vocational training, and given medical aid to over 75,000 patients.
Nominated by John Sommers Mannheimer
Teresa Burns has seen first hand how the lack of visitations and human interaction can severely impact the elderly. So, every day she makes sure to spend time and chat with the patients. Teresa works with a lot of patients with dementia and tries try to find ways to make their lives easier. Shes been told several times by patients they are so grateful for my patience and kindness. She loves to see what amazing stories the patients have to share. Teresa believes they have lived such an amazing lifetime and have so much wisdom stories to tell! They are very important!
As a US Army veteran, Eden intimately understands servant leadership and how to solve problems in unprecedented circumstances. In the wake of COVID-19, many Chicago food pantries had to close their doors, leaving critical gaps in service. The veteran community of Chicago came together to collaborate and find a novel solution to the problem. Eden was instrumental in the creation of a monthly pop-up food distribution center. He led the charge to recruit volunteers, offer insight during the planning stages, and manage day-of execution. Due to his efforts, this operation has distributed over 15,000 lbs. of food to 1,000 families in need. He embodies the Points of Light Award.
What’s your biggest accomplishment? My biggest accomplishment this year is speaking to communities about service dogs. I’ve had my service dog (Mr. Kim) for a little over a year and we have encountered people not knowing how to respond to us or if we were even allowed in their establishment. The lack of understanding has led me to create a presentation and handouts. I have spoken to school, office, restaurant, and government personnel about what a service dog is and what to do when you encounter one. Impact:Volunteering with Travis Manion Foundation we have fed over 1800 families and given out 55,000 lbs. in food. I’ve also used my culinary school teachings and made cookies for all of the volunteers, so far I’ve given out over 1000 cookies. This is another way I can help those who help others. Helping others in their time of need reflects those that have helped me during my time of need.
Nominated by Akbar Arsiwala
As a Director of Education for Mission Citizen, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching free civics classes for people applying to gain United States citizenship, Mei has been committed to providing classes in a safe way. With her enthusiasm, creativity, and l ove of others, she has helped to create an online learning platform to help others learn civics material and take mock citizenship quizzes. Mei has extended her passion for service to others by recruiting teachers and has grown the Mission Citizen teachin g base to an additional 30 students and is planning virtual teacher trainings. Mei believes that despite the current circumstances, anything can be turned into an opportunity. She continues to look for innovative ways in which she can help her community.
A donation in Mei’s honor was given by Sandy Chen
Kevin founded the nonprofit inititative, Combating Overdoses in Rural Areas (CORA). CORA volunteers create educational modules on a multitude of fronts related to opioids (undermining stigma, local resources, compassion fatigue in first responders, etc.), which are vetted by public health Professors at the University of Maryland and local physicians. So far, CORA has partnered with 181 communities across 5 states and is projected to serve over 360,000 Americans in the coming year, reducing substance abuse resource disparities. Kevin is making a remarkable impact on a devastating social issue. He is a compelling example of the positive influence any person can have on others to make the US a more united and compassionate country.
Nominated by Angela
Holly Jackson is one of the most amazing people you will ever meet in your life. She constantly goes above and beyond even during the pandemic to make sure that everyone is taken care of. Putting a community’s needs before her own she has made sure throughout the pandemic that essential items are available for the community. In less than 2 years she has put up over 500 walls of love and service to almost a 100,000 people.
Nominated by Jessica Moss
Crystal Chatman, founder of Beautiful Spirited Women has tapped into a way to be a true inspiration to young girls and women during these times of uncertainty while our nation faces the global impacts of COVID-19. Crystal & Her Daughter Asia of (BSW) sent out handwritten Letters of Hope all across the world realizing that all homes are not safe. The Letters of Hope contain positive words of encouragement reminding girls not to give up, to keep pushing no matter what, let them know they are beautiful and worth it. Over a 100+ letters were mailed over the world. Letters of Hope was well received during COVID-19. Some youth have to deal with physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, hunger, no internet connection or computers and myriad of all sorts of circumstances. She then utilized Facebook Live & Zoom with the assistance of her amazing team to get into homes with 55+ free online workshops all year round.
Nominated by Cynthia Murry Crosby
Deborah Rocha, executive director of SRD Straightening Reins created this not-for-profit after losing her 15 yr old daughter, Samatha, to death by suicide in 2011. While working for the Saugus School District, Ms. Rocha was actually supplementing the program financially when there was no grant money or donation money to cover expenses. In 2019 she retired to give her full time commitment to SRD and has never taken any salary for any of her multiple hours on the Ranch. SRD is an equine-assisted psychotherapy program that works with youth and their families offering mental health support to those in need. SRD receives referrals from Victims of Violent Crime, Foster Care, word of mouth from families that have referred, and the programs are continual even now.
A donation in Deborah’s honor was given by Maria Strmsek
Dr. Kellie Johnson, is the founding Board President of Alliance Family Health Center (AFHC), a nonprofit health center providing safety net services to all individuals, regardless of their ability to pay. Kellie leads with compassion and dignity. Kellie is a retired physician, who now volunteers full time for organizations throughout the greater community. Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic, Kellie has volunteered to lead the COVID-19 testing team for AFHC, working 40+ hours/wk. Kellie has drove AFHC’s response to the pandemic by kicking off a mobile COVID testing unit, taking needed services to vulnerable populations, including homeless shelters, jails, & senior living homes. Please consider Kellie for this honor, she is hero!
Nominated by Amelia
Nat has worked at 2 major supermarkets 7 days a week throughout this crisis without missing a shift. When shortages exist, she buys essential items and distributes them for free to people in need. She shops for any vulnerable person wherever they want. She uses her own money and her own time to buy things when people are in need, and she will literally go to multiple stores if necessary to get the things someone is in need of, even though she is working over 70 hours a week and doesn’t drive. She has also been doing all shopping and walking her mom’s dog and so forth because of her mother’s vulnerability, while not being allowed anywhere but her bedroom and bathroom since mid-February. She has also been helping some with major health needs.
Nominated by Kim Kay Holt
Matt, a U.S. Marine, activates the veterans as a leader in Student Vets of America and empowers them to teach character and leadership to the youth with Travis Manion Foundation. In addtion, Matt has volunteered for leadership roles to host food pantries with Travis Manion Foundation and has delivered hundreds of pounds of food serving more than 2,000 people during COVID.
Nominated by D’Juan
Andrea is tireless when it comes to creating character based education for veterans to present when working with youth in the community. Andrea is always willing to HELP in any capacity of our VSO at the Travis Manion Foundation.
Nominated by Camille Minor
Sarah has made volunteering part of her everyday life, not just when the pandemic hit our country. She has a selfless and generous spirit that leads all that she does. She is a dedicated volunteer with Travis Manion Foundation, frequently leading community service projects like serving lunch at a VA nursing home. This spring, when in-person visitation was prohibited, Sarah and a fellow volunteer, Theresa, held a donation drive for the residents & staff of the nursing home. They collected cards, games, books, and food delivery gift cards. In addition, Sarah has weekly volunteer shifts at the local food bank and regular appointments to donate blood & platelets. Her giving heart never takes a break! The work Sarah does with Feeding San Diego sorting produce and packing food boxes serves more than 63,000 children, families, and seniors every week. In addition, the work that she does with Make-A-Wish San Diego fulfills the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions and impacts hundreds of local families every year.
Nominated by Heather Kelly
Vick cares about all aspects of the community. He has served as a mentor to countless youth teaching character and leadership. Recently he got the support of his city to honor a 100 year old WW2 veteran! Vick has also served as a Travis Manion Foundation Mentor & Ambassador since 2015, and raised over $10,300 for TMF. In addition, Vick is the original founder (2012) & Post Advisor for the Chicago FBI Explorer Post #1920, the only 501c of it’s kind in the United States! Going on its 9th year, funded strictly from donations of FBI employees & BSA supporters, with over 280 graduates, with the majority of students coming from underfunded, inner city schools.
Nominated by D’Juan Wilcher
Florida’s Hometown USA Program youth volunteers have not been able to go inside facilities but have continued their volunteer work – made Blessing Bags to give to the homeless passed out at intersections. One of their biggest accomplishments – making hundreds of Blessing Bags to hand out to the homeless, needy families, children that were out of school and needed snacks. Another was delivering donuts, cookies, etc. to our first responders, police departments, sheriff departments throughout Florida, thanking them for their service.
Ryan Keller, age 16, is passionate about literacy. He has been working with Read Indeed since he was 5 years old. Together, with his sister, he has collected and gifted more than 3.3 million books to kids in need. However, during this COVID pandemic, the need for books has greatly expanded as more and more schools embrace distance learning but that means many children no longer have access to books through their school libraries. Because of this, Ryan has been collecting books and raising funds to buy new books and then he is putting these books into Little Free Libraries all across the Twin Cities, particularly in inner city neighborhoods where the kids have no books. Since COVID pandemic began, Ryan has donated over 3,000 books to Little Free Libraries.
In the response to the COVID-19, access to safe water, sanitation and especially hygiene is a key determinant of health and key to reduce transmission. Clinton, in response to COVID-19, provided hygiene education, installed carefully constructed local portable tap stations in public places, and provided trainings on locally made hand detergents for women and people with disabilities in his community. The tap stations constitute a simple bucket/basin handwashing stations. A bucket that is placed on a stand, have a spigot and a mix of water and disinfectants. Another bucket/basin was placed below or under the stand to capture the used water during the handwashing . One of Clinton’s biggest accomplishment is his COVID-19 Emergency Response Project to help vulnerable communities protect themselves against the spread of disease. The project was designed to curtail the spread of the coronavirus disease in Imo State by supporting the promotion of proper handwashing practices and hygiene behaviour change on a massive scale. More than 25 handwashing facilities (stations) were installed in healthcare centres, motor parks and other busy public and high traffic places in Imo State, Nigeria. Hygiene product packs were also distributed to 20 households and 50 people with disabilities. The intervention was coupled with a large-scale hygiene campaign that were carried out on radio, posters in varied local languages and flyers.
Nominated by Amauche Cynthia Ohaka
When the COVID-19 pandemic was dramatically increasing in March Matthew telephoned me and told me what was happening in New England and the coming need for food assistance in the area. We were aware of the social distancing and CDC guidance. We developed social distancing guidelines and protocols to package meals and to keep our volunteers safe. Matthew wanted to utilize the outreach distribution center and package meals. With our approval, Matthew found funding, volunteers, health department approvals, and has packaged 2,556,750 meals since March. All meals have been provided to area food banks and pantries. We will soon hit 34 million fed. We are up to 2.1 million during the pandemic alone.
A donation in Matthew’s honor was given by Floyd Hammer
Balance Boxes is a youth led registered 501(c)3 that provides students in low-income communities with: books (picture and/or chapter books), educational games, school supplies, a theme-related toy, art project, meal, and free tutoring services. Samantha Feinberg is the co-founder of this organization. She is 16 years old and has provided 1600 and counting students with boxes in Illinois. She has learned how to create professional partnerships and has gotten over 100 partners. She has raised $45000 (with in kind donations) and helped train over 75 students (nationally and internationally) to volunteer with the organization. She has done this all amid a global pandemic. Please share one of your biggest accomplishments One of her greatest accomplishments with Balance Boxes was expanding internationally. Balance Boxes has remained fully youth-led and is now in over 40 different places.So far 1,756 families have benefited.
Nominated by Merryl Feinberg
Patricia Ellis has always been someone, who values the quality of life and equality of others. She worked a long time for the department of education’s office for civil rights. She spoke at events and did workshops empowering women and girls. Patricia has worked for decades helping dozens of struggling veterans, especially those with disabilities, to secure benefits owed to them and winning court cases for them when they thought all hope was lost. She also helped many vets find new employment. Patricia volunteers at and supports the J B Dondolo organization’s fight for clean running water in African communities and has also helped secure clean drinking water for poor American neighborhoods and sanitary items for Native American communities.
A donation in Patricia’s honor was given by Daniel
With Vivekananda Youth Forum spearheading four fundraisers, Vidur was able to help raise $20,000 to provide COVID relief materials, groceries, and hygiene kits to 596 families from under-served communities in Mumbai. Vidur was given the responsibility to lead volunteers teaching grades 8, 9 & 10. In addition, he is currently managing and coordinating with 20 volunteers and 35 children, each volunteer spending 3 hours online per week per student. As a volunteer with RoundGlass Foundation, Punjab, Vidur is interacting and motivating 20 children through telephone conversations to create positive well-being.
Nominated by iVolunteer
Sammie is young but has had a huge impact on our community and beyond. In the past few years she has helped over 100 groups get buddy benches made out of recycled plastic bottle caps (helping the environment and kids making friends all in one). In March when Covid hit, she started Sammie Sending Smiles. She mailed out a daily letter of encouragement to someone with a little laminated smile included. She has sent over 100 letters all over the country that included people she has met through her buddy bench project to teachers and veterans. She spreads kindness daily and is a true light in this uncertain time. Buddy Bench One her biggest accomplishments was being able to give 75 buddy benches made out of recycled plastic caps to schools all around the state of Indiana!
Nominated by Heidi Vance
Dylan Baca is a member of the White Mountain Apache tribe and through his cheii, he is Navajo. He currently resides in the White Mountains where he will be entering his senior year at Blue Ridge High School this fall. Dylan is a strong advocate for social change and is committed to eliminating social inequities.
In the spring of 2019 he started the Indigenous Peoples’ Initiative, an organization that provides accurate messaging about Indigenous Peoples’ to all people to ensure that educated policy decisions are made by lawmakers and other individuals in power and secondly, to advocate and lobby for marginalized populations such as Indigenous Peoples’.
During the height of the pandemic, his volunteerism with Indigenous Peoples’ Initiative became a rapid response effort for marginalized populations across the country that were disproportionately devastated by the deadly virus.
Dylan was able to acquire and help distribute donated items to first responders, frontline workers, and people within the community in need of supplies. Dylan got life-saving PPE like N95 masks for the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health and first responders, in addition to donated supplies for the White Mountain Apache tribe Covid-19 Distribution Center like food, toys, hand sanitizer, gloves and masks. Dylan is now helping to cut out gowns for first responders who are in need.
Marissa is a constant champion and advocate for her community. Formerly a nonprofit leader advancing equity in schools, Marissa leveraged her talents to start Reloveution. Reloveution is a company dedicated to bringing heart-centric leadership practices to organizations and schools. When COVID’s impacts indicated traumatic responses among first responders and healthcare professionals, Marissa built a new project to help. Marissa’s grassroots effort matched first responders and healthcare professionals with mental health practitioners, to help resource free listening and support services to frontline workers. Marissa is the definition of positive change in her community. Since Reloveution started in 2019, they have supported, trained, and worked with over five hundred human beings and over a dozen workplaces located around the world. Through our philanthropic initiative Project RESPITE, launched in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also offered pro bono mental health services to over 250 first responders and healthcare professionals.
Nominated by Rebecca Forbes
Sandy and Shannon gift baby dolls to Alzheimer’s patients, witnessing the joy they brought. That lasting connection has been gifted to over 800 Alzheimer patients since 2018, through Pearl’s Memory Babies, an organization named after Sandy’s mother-in-law. By customizing and then personally delivering as gifts baby dolls and stuffed animals to Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients residing in memory care facilities, Sandy and Shannon are providing love and comfort with something soft and familiar that individuals can cherish. Since the pandemic began their work has been even more necessary since many of the patients in memory care facilities are not able to have visitors.
Former Duke All-American basketball player and current director of basketball operations, Nolan Smith has taken on a very active role in his community during the recent social justice movement. Nolan has ensured that protests and other demonstrations held ad Durham have remained peaceful and ensured there were no fights or outbreaks of violence. So much so that he was asked by the mayor of Durham to serve as a community leader.
Nolan is also an active member of “The Brotherhood” alumni group. The group is made up of 100 former and current Duke basketball players and focuses on voting initiatives, equality and teaching others about systemic racism. Nolan never misses an opportunity to educate those around him about the importance of the current movement given his experiences as a black man.
Since the pandemic started he partnered with a local supermarket to provide food to those most affected by the pandemic. Nolan never says no when asked to participate and connect with others in his community and lend a helping hand. He is affectionately known as “the People’s champ”.
Isabelle (age 16) and Katherine (age 14) learned over 9 years ago that girls in developing countries often did not get to go to school because they were hauling water all day. They also learned that a child died every 15 seconds from unclean water. These These facts caused them to start a project making origami Christmas ornaments and exchanging them for donations to raise money for water wells. In 9 years, these two girls have raised over $2,000,000 and have helped fund over 250 water projects in 20 countries including right here in the US on the Navajo Rservation. They have fundamentally changed the lives of over 70,000 people around the world who now have the time to go to school, start a business or just play like a child.
Nominated by Ken Adams
Bradley Ross Jackson is a dynamic mover and shaker even at such a young age. He has assisted in his community for the last seven years by providing books, clothes and gift cards to the ostracized and under-served communities. He partners up with the Boys and Girls’ Club and the Bloomington Housing Authority to make a positive difference in the lives of the youth. He provides the children with books and clothes and he always leaves a kind note in the books and pockets of the clothes, just to keep the children inspired and motivated. During the COVID-19 season, he made masks for children and families who could not afford them. He used his birthday gifts (cash money) and purchased toiletries for those families who found themselves without a job! One of Bradley’s biggest accomplishments include making a positive difference in the lives of others through my gifted oratorical skills and through my volunteerism. I am proud to have won many first place trophies for reciting the work of famous Civil Rights’ Activist. Also, I enjoy volunteering through my B.E. KIND initiative. The B. E. stands for “B”radley “E”ncourages KINDness! Throughout the year, I provide books, clothes, gift cards, toys, face masks, hand sanitizers and love to the children at the Bloomington Housing Authority.
Nominated by Dr. Carla Campbell
Kaitlyn Martinez started Backpacks 4 Kids AZ over 5 years ago when one of her friends didn’t have school supplies at home and failed an assignment because of it. Since then she has helped over 10,000 children with backpacks filled with school supplies. Now during Covid-19 she added an additional program to Backpacks 4 Kids AZ, she started making activity bags to help children entertained. During this time many children are stressed and doing activities like coloring, making pictures, and playdoh figures helps relieve some of that stress and anxiety children are feeling. One of Kaitlyn’s biggest accomplishments was starting a nonprofit and being able to help thousands of kids each year. Over the past few years, I have helped over 13,000 kids with backpacks filled with school supplies and this year I made 500 activity bags filled with art supplies and coloring books to help keep children entertained at home during the pandemic.
Nominated by Michele Tallberg
GearUP launched an effort to support kids and help them stay active, deal with their emotions and engage with their communities safely. My younger sisters wrote and self published an activity book they’ve posted online to be downloaded free. I have launched a mini version of my Summer Bike Challenge called, Quarantine Bike Challenge, which began yesterday with kids earning prizes for riding their bikes safely. My oldest sister has been promoting ideas for volunteerism and together we have packed several hundred Kids Packs which we started distributing through partnership with a local school meal delivery site. Kids Packs include reading books, art supplies, the activity book my sisters created, bike challenge information and new rider BMX magazines. We have also been seeking partners to distribute packs in other communities. The news came out to film our first distribution yesterday where we gave out over 100 packs. On Monday, Shelby will be launching a weekly “Crafts from Around the House” series followed by the opening of a virtual art show to feature art work done by kids while they are off school. The bike challenge will end on May 15.
Patricia Baisden Master Sergeant (Ret) Baisden has served her country 20+ years and continues to serve her community. After leaving the military she has volunteered for the past 18 months in multiple events, another selfless act. She has been working tirelessly to help others since before she departed active duty. Patricia supports programs, events, and family activities for veterans all over the southeast and abroad. Like many others who have served for our country, one of Patricia’s biggest accomplishment is fighting PTSD and not allowing the nightmares of invisible wounds to rob me of peace and joy. In addition, she has personally handed out 25 PPE kits to residents of Clayton and Henry Counties and another 75 to homeless veterans of Downtown Atlanta. She has donated 200 book bags with school supplies to youths returning back to school for 2020-2021 school year. Lastly, she has helped a countless veterans receive meals, offered financial support, and the list goes on.
Youth Advocate, Desiree K. Williams has revised and updated her new parenting educational book, Designing Lives, inspiring our children today to inspire our world tomorrow. The book is available through the global distributors Ingram Baker and Taylor, major retailers Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and is currently selling globally to parents, educators, mentors, ministry schools, foster homes and libraries. Designing Lives is assisting a generation with hope and encouragement the unprecedented times of COVID-19. In addition, Desiree mentors children and teenagers on the importance of academic excellence, goal setting, early college preparation and community service.
Danisa Garcia is a military spouse, a tax expert, an extraordinary volunteer. Danisa has worked as a volunteer for Esposas Militares Hispanas USA for more 12 years. Her dedication and commitment to our military families is admirable. Danisa is an essential part for our organization and her military family experience and tax expertise helps military families with language barriers all year around. Danisa deserves this award for her hours of commitment to our military spouses with language barriers and our veterans.
Nominated by Esposas Militares Hispanas USA Armed Forces
The Leaders Readers Network works with a team of students and teachers to provide brand new books, supplies, and projects to support early literacy at underfunded schools. The student network has grown over the last 8 year. We have mentored 212 students. Cristina and Darin serve as the Student President and Student Vice President of the LRN Student Executive Board. Both have volunteered for over 4 years mentoring students across the nation to further our mission by providing books at Title 1 Schools. This year, we have 52 students across the nation that are a part of the network. Cristina and Darin interviewed and selected students to be a part of our mission and projects. This year, the student network has a goal to impact 15,000 students’ lives.
Nominated by Chris McGilvery
Nowshin Ali, an amazing woman who in 2016 as a recent immigrant (2013) began People In Need, a 501C(3) community-based organization that until the pandemic offered an after-school homework help program, summer programs, women’s workshops, warm clothing drives and back to school supplies drives. Tuition in her programs was based on what you could pay, so no child was turned away. When the pandemic hit New York, she organized a COVID-19 Food Insecurity Campaign that is currently providing pickup and delivery of groceries to over 300 families/week in Brooklyn, NY. She also served as the PA President at PS217 and runs Jalsa Grill & Gravy, a popular Indian restaurants. Her contributions have been featured in the New Yorker and other publications.
Since the beginning of the pandemic in March,2020, Nowshin and team have supplied over 3500 unique families (average family size: 5 people) with groceries and we organized two mega food box/available support resources fairs while keeping the restaurant she manages running at night alongside Anurag Shrivastava. She is proud they have had 300 people volunteer to support and have attracted over 700 donors to step up to support their cause.
Nominated by Neil F Brier
Theresa is an absolutely fantastic member of our volunteer team at Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit. During these unprecedented times, our shelter and our volunteer team have been struggling. Theresa has continued to support the animals at the shelter and the people in our community. She is the lead for our Dog Day Out program, benefiting the dogs and the community. She is also a mentor for our youth program, finding new exciting ways for teens to get involved in animal care and creating fundraisers with them to supply the shelter with urgently needed items. We are so appreciative for all that Theresa has done and continues to do for the animals and our community. One of Theresa’s biggest accomplishments was helping establish a successful/fruitful teen mentoring group at Friends for Animals of Metro Detroit.
Nominated by Emily Kirby-Duprey
Sumeet Gade is an enthusiastic volunteer ready to help people in need. Since the pandemic in early March 2020, he has been involved personally in helping people in distress and migrant work. He has helped distribute PPE kits, face masks, sanitizer and hygiene kits. Summet has helped sort and pass out food first responders, children and local Mumbai residents. In the area of education, he has helped distribute books to children. To date, Sumeet has impacted more than 250,000 lives with all of his work predating the pandemic. His biggest achievement was being able to reach out to 20,000 families supplying food grains for 6 month and still giving. He was hesitant at first but now knows the work must continue.
Nominated by Ujwala
Miriam’s Kitchen has utilized cross-sector collaboration to help reduce chronic homelessness by 39.8% and veteran homelessness by 31.6% in Washington D.C. since 2012. As it relates to the pandemic, our biggest accomplishment at this time is being able to provide our guests with uninterrupted services. We have continued to provide homeless citizens in DC with fresh, healthy meals in addition to connecting them with permanent housing and other essential supportive services. A few success points for us during the pandemic are that we’ve: Provided 29,999 meals and groceries—helping to tackle food insecurity Distributed 7,224 personal protection equipment like hand sanitizers and masks—helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Each year, MK provides services to about 4,000 individuals experiencing homelessness. Meals MK’s kitchen operates Monday through Friday, and serves about 300 meals a day. This equates to about 70,000 meals annually.
Our mission at iFoster is to ensure that every child growing up outside of their biological home has the resources and opportunities they need to become successful, independent adults. From providing help with homework and college applications to giving kids laptops and cellphones, iFoster works to fill the gaps in these families’ resources. A national nonprofit with over 40,000 members across all 50 states, Guam and Puerto Rico, an estimated 500 new members join iFoster every month. In the 24 weeks since March when remote learning was mandated in California, iFoster has provided over 12,000 young people in foster care across 50 CA counties with the technology (Internet access and laptops) they need for distance learning. Access to technology is the greatest need reported by iFoster’s members. In 2016, iFoster participated in a USC study that found that 95% of rural foster youth, and 79% of urban foster youth, did not have access to a computer and the Internet where they live. Providing them with this critical technology has allowed them to stay in school, maintain their support networks, and receive the critical safety information during the pandemic. iFoster is a free, members only, national community for those in foster care. We estimate that our over 60,000 members across all 50 states represent the majority of children and youth in foster care. All of these members have access to our portal of resources curated specifically to address their needs, as well as programs (where available) such as our technology program, jobs program and TAY AmeriCorps Program.
A donation in Reid’s honor was given by Barb Quaintance of AARP
Noah Smock serves as the Executive Director for the Baltimore ToolBank, a nonprofit that loans tools to other nonprofits to support their missions. As a social-justice organization, it is focused on serving communities in need. Noah’s leadership since the onset of the pandemic has ensured that all qualified ToolBank partners have the equipment and resources they need to serve in this trying time. Soon after Maryland went under its strictest stay-at-home orders, the ToolBank provided tables, chairs, generators, safety cones and more to four Baltimore-based COVID-19 testing sites, saving the City government time and money while serving those in need on short notice. In the wake of COVID-19, Noah has helped and served more than 20,000 individuals in multiple ways through his work at the Baltimore Community ToolBank. They provide tools, equipment and expertise to community partners serving across a diversity of impact area. During the pandemic, they have empowered partners at testing sites and in their work to distribute food to neighbors in need. As an example, more than 200,000 hot meals have been served using our equipment in Baltimore City since March 2020.
A donation in honor of Noah was given by Susan Scotto Dyckman
Daily Point of Light Award honoree Dr. Kimberly Clay has spent 16 years as a selfless volunteer driving change for women. Her life’s work uses sport to help young women pursue thriving careers in STEM–ultimately breaking the cycle of poverty. In 2010, Dr. Kim left her career as a university professor and cancer researcher, dissolved her savings and retirement, and gave up a salary and benefits to pursue this work. She recognizes the lack of gender diversity in STEM as a critical issue. She has helped over 25,000 girls embrace their limitless potential by breaking societal barriers and limiting beliefs that girls can’t work as engineers or design robots, experiment with chemicals, or build their own mobile app through her nonprofit, Play Like a Girl. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they have re-imagined programming with the help of LinkedIn and countless local woman-led companies to match small groups of middle school girls with over 700 professional women in STEM from across the U.S. who serve as mentors and role models in the virtual learning environment.
In 2018, Lauren received news that would change her life forever: her son was diagnosed with leukemia. The COVID-19 crisis presents cancer patients with challenges that require urgent action by Congress. As lawmakers drafted relief packages, Lauren connected with her members to share real-life experiences of families living with cancer, while socially distanced at home. Lauren joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s efforts by sharing her story on social media, sending messages to lawmakers and meeting (virtually) with her members of Congress about the needs of cancer patients. Thanks to those efforts, Congress has passed measures that are first steps to protecting cancer patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. After her son was diagnosed she started fundraising and volunteering for her local Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Chapter and collaboratively raised tens of thousands of dollars over the last three years. Through raising money, which has funded ground-breaking cancer research that has resulted in breakthrough drugs for not only blood cancer patients, but patients battling other cancers. Their advocacy, which is changing policies across all 50 states will ripple across the country.
Nominated by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Office of Public Policy
Since 2008, Days for Girls International has created access to washable and sustainable feminine hygiene products for nearly a million women and girls worldwide. And its micro-enterprise model is empowering many of the women to pull themselves out of poverty. From New Orleans to Nepal, Uganda to Guyana, teams are helping women better understand their own bodies and discover ways to keep themselves safe. One of Celeste’s biggest accomplishments was founding Days for Girls International in 2008. What started as a simple question in the middle of the night to ask how girls manage their periods in an overcrowded orphanage in Kenya, turned into a global movement that is working to bring dignity, education, and opportunities to millions of women and girls around the world. Today Days for Girls is turning the stigma and lost opportunity that women face around periods into pathways of dignity and opportunity in 144 nations. They increase access to menstrual care and education by mobilizing tens of thousands of volunteers around the globe, developing global partnerships, cultivating social enterprises, and innovating sustainable solutions that shatter stigma and limitations for women and girls. Their vision is to reach every girl. Everywhere. Period. There are a lot of things that are hard to change in the world. But this is not one of them. Menstrual equity is something that can be accomplished in our lifetime. Days for Girls has now reached more than 1.7 million women and girls across the globe.
A donation in Celeste’s honor was given by Barb Quaintance of AARP
Heather Staples created a Facebook group called, North Shore Fabric Masks for Health Professionals, which as more than 300 members. The groups goal was to deliver hundreds of masks and other supplies to frontline workers who are most in need. Her family are medical professionals and when the hospital they work for asked them to use bandannas–versus PPE–it prompted her to make masks. She’s engaged others and has donated over 19,000 masks and other supplies to more than 80 organizations. She is fearless and even contracted COVID-19 during her service work.
Nominated by Starbucks
Dr. Tram Ho is a frontline healthcare worker. She worked tirelessly to serve the under-served Asian communities in Houston and Vicinity. She helped to organize three drive-in COVID-19 free testing service to serve 800 seniors in Houston. There is a large population of Vietnamese seniors who are lacking of English proficiency and having difficulty to get COVID-19 testing, she created this program to serve this population. Despite her crazy schedule to treat patients locally, she managed to be on air (both radio and television) to provide guidance to the communities on safety measure and precaution measure. She is a hero in our community.
In the beginning phases of the pandemic, Santiago and Patricio Guerrero started Shield LA, an organization that uses state-of-the-art technology 3-D printing, robotics, and the best in design to produce low-cost face shields for vulnerable communities. Shield LA’s cost-effective design allows healthcare workers to assemble their own face shield, which lead to a 90% decrease in cost and packaging. Most important, this allows Shield LA to produce and ship more than 10,000 masks per day. In addition, this helps alleviate the need for masks and other PPE supplies for healthcare workers across the country.
Since the pandemic, the team has worked relentlessly to produce masks and distribute them throughout the Los Angeles area. Operating much like a nonprofit, the organization is looking for ways to make more PPE items accessible to hospitals around the country. They even started a GoFundMe page where people can share this information or donate to help sustain their work in the coming months. Shield LA’s team is made up of Patricio Guerrero, mechanical engineer and robot designer for Disney; Nathan Sharifrazi, supplier development at Zipline International; and Santiago Guerrero Gertz, a law student.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, Beau McDougall is a proud graduate of UNLV and has been serving Las Vegas as a firefighter/paramedic for the last decade. He is also a small business owner focused in the real estate industry. When he’s not selling homes or fighting fires, he dedicates his time to his community. The UNLV School of Medicine is currently operating the largest COVID-19 testing site in Nevada. The site serves over 500 patients a day–working in congruent with 85 staff and volunteers: students, nurses, doctors, National Guard & Metro Police. Beau saw this as his opportunity to bring together his resources and make a difference! In Early May, Beau coordinated with local organizations to provide five days of food and beverages to be delivered to the UNLV School of Medicine testing site. He said, “If I can provide a warm meal, and a quick mental break for someone, I will always step up to the call.”
Senior Corps RSVP Volunteers, Steve Delman and Ava Reinfield have gone above and beyond since the pandemic started, delivering over 109 meals to isolated older adults. These hot meals are delivered twice a week with no physical contact on Tuesdays and Fridays and ensure that recipients get regular deliveries of food and regular check-ins from the RSVP staff who schedule the meals and volunteers who deliver them.
RSVP’d staff sets up a sign-up twice weekly for volunteers to select which clients need deliveries. Steve and Ava wait and sign up for all remaining clients; generally, always the clients who live in more remote, out of the way areas. Steve says, “When we are in the car spending time together, it doesn’t matter if we make one delivery or six. It’s a way for us to get out of the house and do something that helps.
The “Vizinho Amigo” or “Good Neighbor” movement was created in Portugal, with the aim of preventing Covid-19 risk groups from being exposed to contagion. Here in Brazil, the movement was started by Gabi Pereira and was launched with the support of Atados.
With the creation of two vacancies in March, one to carry out activities on the street and another to be an ambassador for the project, they have already mobilized +2500 volunteers from all over Brazil . Registration here on the site has already ended, but you can continue spreading this idea. Be part of this movement!
Frances Rivera is a military spouse, hard worker, and extraordinary volunteer. Frances has volunteered with Esposas Militares Hispanas USA for the past 3 years. Her dedication and commitment to our military families is admirable. Frances is an essential part of the organization and her professionalism helps military families with language barriers all over the world. Frances deserves this award for her hours of commitment to our military spouses with language barriers and our veterans. Esposas Militares Hispanas USA started as a Facebook group in December 2007, the group is the main point of contact with for Hispanic military families stationed in different parts of the world. Today, they are a nonprofit organization with one main group and over 100 sub-groups and over 10k of members around the world.
Latino U College Access (LUCA) seeks to level the playing field by partnering with first-generation Latino youth to help them realize their potential and work towards achieving their dreams. Through advocacy, community education and student workshops, LUCA promotes college enrollment and prepares students for their journey to college graduation. After working in local nonprofit organizations and helping her own children apply to college, Buontempo saw a need for bilingual support to resource-challenged, Spanish-speaking families make their dreams of a college education a reality. What began with only two scholars at one local high school, has grown into an annual cohort of more than 175 high school and college students representing four Westchester County school districts with student populations that are at least 50% Hispanic. As of summer 2020, 220 Scholars have participated in this program and are well on their way to becoming the first in their family to graduate from college. Today, 93% of Latino U Scholars are enrolled in four-year universities; 55% are pursuing degrees in STEM, and 50% are attending “most-selective” or “very-selective” schools. Furthermore, nearly 6,000 parents and students have participated in our community programs – Spanish language information sessions and financial aid workshops to help guide and inform them about the process of applying to and paying for college!
A donation in Shirley’s honor was given by Barb Quaintance of AARP
Alanna is no stranger to helping pets in need. For the last nine months, her family has fostered dozens of kittens and puppies who were not quite ready for their forever home. “We’ve taken care of bottle babies, puppies recovering from surgery, and animals that are too young to be at the shelter,” Alana said. Alanna thought the family might benefit from having a pet in the family, but decided that fostering would be a great option. “I wanted to teach the kids and show them how we love animals and people,” Alanna added. One Alanna’s biggest accomplishments was adopting a sibling group of 3 teenagers in November out of Oregon after 1183 days in her foster care. The teens had been through so much abuse and neglect. She recalls it being one the most challenging things she’s ever had to do. We volunteer for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. During the first phase of the pandemic, Alanna and volunteers sewed 1000 masks for inmates and deputies and help out with various other projects. In addition, they volunteered on their own and pick up trash in Portland after the riots. They went through 97 days of protesting and went down 3-4 times a week to clean up at 5 a.m. the following morning. Alanna has single handedly fostered over 30 children and am still fostering, and says it’s her goal in life to make the world a better place!
Nominated by Oregon Humane Society
Ms. Lin Lin Yan is an entrepreneur with a big philanthropic heart. As a business owner, she took responsible steps helping her city’s first responders, doctors, and healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 since the shelter-in-place ordinance went into effect. During that time, she served 10,000+ free meals to doctors, nurses, first responders, emergency clinics, hospitals, phone banks, police officers, and nonprofits working to fight the pandemic. She has donated 4000+ masks for the community and groceries to refugees. In addition, she helped raise monetary donations for children with basic need items. Recently, Ms. Lin Lin received a special recognition from a City of Sugar Land congressman and Exchange Club of Sugar Land. She also encourages parents to have their children make thank-you cards for heroes which are delivered with the free meals. Finally, she considers the work her and other volunteers do to be a form of encouragement, which has motivated a number of people to come forward and donate, participate, and volunteer in showing appreciation to heroes. She says it has been very heartwarming to see the community come together.
Nominated by Unite & Inspire
Grace Laney is a young girl who always strives to make a difference in her community. She volunteers every chance she gets and has truly made an impact in her local town. Grace has volunteered and helped raise money for several organizations, including the VFW, St. Judes, and Bright Blessings. Grace has a love for animals and sewing and combined her passions to start her own platform, Stuffed with Love. She has donated over 500 pillows to local shelters and rescues. She also put her sewing skills to use and made over 1000 masks to donate to essential employees. Grace’s determination and caring nature has made her a true hometown hero and we cannot wait to see what she does next.
Nominated by Crystal Buchaluk
In 2017, some Portland mothers got together with the idea of creating a family-friendly volunteer organization to connect parents, caregivers, and kids to local charities. The goal was to instill a sense of community service and civic responsibility in young children in the most inclusive and easy way possible–by modeling that behavior and engaging in volunteer activities together. Youth Charity League was formed. Comprised of about 100 families with kids ages 8-18, the organization has already performed nearly 2400 hours of service this year, even during the pandemic members were engaged and focused on helping the community. Not only did members exceed the record set last year to achieve over 2,300 service hours, but also did over 1,100 hours during the COVID-19 lockdown! They did this through DIY projects at home supporting a variety of organizations in our community. In August, they held a book drive and delivered packs of books to over 325 school-aged kids in the Portland area.
A donation in Youth Charity Leagues’ honor was given by Kate Begonia
Sweet Readers‘ mission is to empower trained middle school students to revitalize adults living with Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, and thus become catalysts for change. We partner with schools, elder care centers, major museums, and train art educators and school faculty to facilitate our six-week programs. The Sweet Readers’ programs have engaged more than 18,500 teens and 7,500 adults, in 39 communities in three countries. One of the organization’s biggest accomplishments was to being able to lead four generations of volunteers, partners and participants, all suddenly disrupted in March 2020, to come together to swiftly and effectively create Sweet Readers Connect, which connected people across generations and geographies giving everyone grounding, community, purpose and love. While Sweet Readers has bridged over 40 communities in three countries, serving over 40,000 participants over the past nine years, for our COVID relief effort, Sweet Readers Connect, we facilitated over 300 group and individual visits between students ages 11 – 22 and isolated adults in need.
A donation in Karen’s honor was given by Barb Quaintance of AARP
Jeaniel Image is the Platoon Leader for The Mission Continues’ service platoon in Tampa. A Navy veteran with 18 years of military service, Jeaniel initially joined The Mission Continues in order to support her husband, but realized that the platoon could greatly benefit from her leadership. Since February, Jeaniel has led the Tampa platoon to partner with local farms to help harvest and distribute surplus produce in the Tampa community. So far, they’ve harvested over 800 pounds of watermelon, 680 pounds of blueberries, 288 pounds of cucumbers and more to help feed their fellow Floridians. With the help of nearly 80 fellow volunteers serving 240 hours, Jeaniel has led twenty-two service events that impacted over 7000 families across 13 food banks.
Jeaniel says: One of my biggest accomplishments has surprisingly been during COVID-19. As a platoon leader for The Mission Continues, a national veterans nonprofit, I had the opportunity to lead 95 volunteers and seven different community partners and farms to deliver food to 12 different food pantries and organizations. We delivered 58 cases of food, and 2706 pounds of fresh produce. In addition, we have supported mobile food pantries in delivering food to 7,772 vehicles and 4,193 families.
Nominated by The Mission Continues (Susan Thaxton)
Ms. Bouba Aeisatu is an from the Mbororo indigenous pastoralist community in Cameroon. Coming from a community where women and girls are more discriminated, she happens to be one of the few educated women with great impact in her township. When she was 13 she was forced into early marriage, and managed to escape to continue her education–successfully creating, Cameroon Indigenous Women Forum, a local organisation to assist Indigenous girls and women victims of Child marriage and GBV. Since then, she has rescued about 1200 girls from child marriage and send them to school. During COVID-19, 100 girls were educated on preventive measures, received sanitary kits, and income generating activities to start their businesses to become autonomous.
Ms. Bouba Aeisatu says: One of my achievement is that I have been able to raise awareness about the issue of gender-based violence based violence and succeeded to convince traditional leaders to identify and review negative norms that promote violence against women in many communities .I have been able to change mine sets of community leaders about the perception of forcing young girls into early marriages and so far 1200 girls have benefited from our programs to support them in school.today most of the traditional leaders and religious leaders are our allies in ending gender based violence including child marriage.
Nominated by Positive impact Award
As the founder of Community Seva, a nonprofit serving the homeless, Nathan embodies the spirit of selflessness, optimism, and most important, the ability to inspire others to act and do good. For more than 7 years, his grassroots organization has gained 2500+ volunteers, served 160,000+ meals, provided mobile showers, and delivered 7000+ winter essentials backpacks. During the pandemic, it served 15,000 meals and distributed mobile solar chargers, masks, gloves, face shields, and hygiene kits. Nathan is the single biggest factor behind Community Seva’s success. His willingness to listen and ability to connect with anyone is galvanizing. Due to his kindness, dedicated service, and incredible drive, I nominate Nathan for the Inspirational Honor Roll.
Nathan Ganeshan says: In my 12+ years of community service ( before and after formation of Community Seva), I’ve served over 175,000 hot freshly cooked delicious meals, provided hot showers and laundry facility to over 1000 men and women, distributed over 7000 backpacks with winter essentials, over 6000 hygiene kits, distributed 700+ solar power chargers, and more than 500 feminine kits to the unhoused brothers and sisters and children who are homeless or displaced in the heart of Silicon Valley. I have also empowered more than a dozen youths, Boys Scouts for their Eagle rank, Girl Scouts, and special-aid students for their community service projects. In addition, supported San Jose flood victims.
A donation in Nathan’s honor was given by Saras Venkatram
Jenny Sears is the catering manager for the Crown Room at Hallmark’s headquarters–where she provides meals, creative snacks and takeout for thousands of Hallmarkers every day. Following remote working due to COVID-19, she noticed perishable items in the kitchen that she did not want to go to waste. She reached out to a neighboring agency, Operation Breakthrough, hoping to support families during early COVID-19 uncertainty. Jenny took 5 loads of food in her FULL minivan to OB, where they provide education and health services to hundreds of families. With daycare and schools closed, the large amounts of food were prepped into family-size portions for their food pantry and entirely stocked their coolers with gallons of milk. As communities continue to support one another and endure through COVID-19, Jenny hasn’t forgotten about her friends at Operation Breakthrough. Since the first food recovery donation, she continues to check on them and has provided an estimated total of eight pallets of food in June and August–continuing to provide hope and love to many during a very scary, uncertain time.
Marilyn Carrion is a military spouse, a hard worker, an extraordinary volunteer. Marilyn works as a volunteer for Esposas Militares Hispanas USA for more than 10 years. Her dedication and commitment to our military families is admirable. Marilyn is an essential part for our organization and her professionalism helps military families with language barriers all over the world. Marilyn deserves this award for her hours of commitment to our military spouses with language barriers and our veterans.
Marilyn says: I was born in the town of Caguas, Puerto Rico. In 2005 I moved to Goose Creek, South Carolina with my husband. For nearly 12 years, I was the wife of a military man. My husband served in the Navy as a nuclear electrician. While we were stationed in Virginia, I found out about the organization, Esposas Militares Hispanas USA (EMHUSA). This organization was a great relief for me since my first language is Spanish. There I found much-needed support for various questions and concerns. Eventually, I became part of their staff as a volunteer. During my time with EMHUSA, I worked with members of the organization to help bring awareness to military life and welcome them to their new post. Today, I still continue to volunteer with EMHUSA. And although I am no longer a part of military life, the experience created some of the best memories.
Nominated by Esposas Militares Hispanas USA Armed Forces
Typhani has been actively involved in volunteering for most of her life. It is something she was born into, and as she grew older, she developed her own platform issues and advocacy involvement. Typhani always has an ongoing service project. Some of the organizations that she has devoted her time with are: American Cancer Society, Central PA Humane Society, March of Dimes, Toys for Tots, Sideline Cancer, Mom’s Demand Action, Children’s Miracle Network and Burgi’s Low-Life Riders. She is the founder of “Bookworms Against Bullies,” and has a program for kids who love reading and to share their stories of being victims of bullying like herself. As a fourth-grade teacher, she instills kindness and encourages paying it forward to her students. Typhani says: Growing up, I was bullied from my very first day of kindergarten throughout my entire high school career. Having been raised by very caring and supportive parents, I quickly learned how to transform these horrible experiences into something positive that in turn, has taught me how to help others. I created Bookworms Against Bullies as an outlet for young people in my community to engage in activities and conversations that would help them feel welcome and wanted. Bookworms Against Bullies initially held events at libraries where we used our love of reading to talk about books as well as had discussions about how to become strong and confident individuals that stand up to bullies. Painting kindness rocks is another example of the many activities that I have initiated in my community through Bookworms Against Bullies. At the young age of 34, I’m proud to have been able to reach thousands of individuals with the compassion that has been instilled in me from birth.
Nominated by Jackie Russo
24-year-old Jessica has earned a master’s degree in public health. Currently, she working on her second master’s degree in business administration. Besides having accomplished so much at a such young age, Jessica has volunteered with numerous organizations and events. such as: Seattle Children’s Hospital, Swedish Edmonds Hospital and Swedish First Hill. By volunteering, not only does she help others, but also goes at lengths to brighten someone’s day and leave them smiling. She always goes beyond her limits to reach her purpose and to help everyone that she can in every way possible! Jessica Pal says: One of my biggest accomplishment is having been able to put a smile on the face of patients and their families through volunteer work I have done at hospitals. I never thought of how a simple gesture as a smile can brighten someone’s day until I started volunteering at different hospitals. I still remember the day that I was discharging a patient at the Swedish Hospital in Seattle, WA. I was standing outside the hospital with the patient, who was waiting for her ride home. After the patient was picked up by her daughter, they drove away and a few minutes later she came back. The daughter got out of the car and walked towards me. I was scared that I might have done something wrong, but as she came up to me, she thanked me for smiling and brightening her day. She told me that she was going through a lot of stress and worries with her mother being in the hospital, but seeing me smile at her, made her smile and feel better. I will never forget this encounter I had with a patient/family member because it reminded me of how a simple smile can make someone else’s day better. My work has positively impacted many people around me.
Nominated by Shabina Pal
With the goal to improve the quality of life for seniors in their community, the Senior Charity Care Foundation provides financial assistance to those in senior care settings and senior apartments who require affordable vision, hearing and dental care. Specifically, the Foundation subsidizes the majority of the cost of services they provide in order to reach seniors who are medically underserved. Beth Leimbach Ehrhardt says: In August 2018, my husband and I donated $50,000 to the Senior Charity Care Foundation – a legacy gift; using one of her IRA’s to help ensure the viability of the organization. We initiated a matching gift challenge to donors, which raised a total of over $190,000 in seven months. Donors commented that when they noticed the size of her donation that they realized we were “all-in”, and this was an organization worthy of support. At the end of 2019, in our first eight years of operations, we served over 2,800 seniors who have been residents of 156 senior apartments and care facilities. In total, SCCF received and assisted with 3,408 requests for assistance.
A donation in Beth’s honor was given by Barb Quaintance of AARP
Today’s Students Tomorrow’s Teachers is a unique school-based mentoring program that recruits and mentors culturally diverse and economically challenged high school students who are interested in pursuing a career in teaching. TSTT provides financial assistance for students to attend college, and then places them as teachers and leaders who will inspire and strengthen their communities. TSTT has produced over 150 graduates who are now teachers and has a 100% placement rate. Dr. Bettye Perkins says: During my 25 years of leading Today’s Students, Tomorrow’s Teachers (TSTT), my biggest accomplishment was to witness the growth and development of over 1,000 high school and college students. Watching them grow into teachers, administrators, and leaders who have impacted the lives of thousands of students has given me the greatest joy of my life. TSTT alumni become long term teachers committed and dedicated to their mission. Currently, there are 250 alumni teachers in nine states who have taught an average of 5 plus years. Over 50 teachers, of whom I affectionately call my Perkins Scholars, have taught ten-years or more. Many of our Perkins Scholars are now administrators with doctorate degrees who have had an everlasting impact on their students. They work in communities that are most in need and ensure that their students are well equipped to meet the challenges of today’s society. I fell in love with my first group of kids.
The Lily Project, a women’s health NGO that provides cervical cancer screening and treatment via mobile health clinics to women in Nicaragua’s rural villages. Our clinicians use a simple, cost-effective ‘screen and treat’ procedure endorsed by the WHO at a cost of less than $10 per woman, as well as sexual/reproductive health education, and, when needed, trauma counseling. By 2022, The Lily Project will operate 10 mobile health clinics with a capacity to screen 25,000 women annually, and over 250,000 adolescent girls will participate in one of our educational programs. · Susan Cotton says: Our most relevant accomplishment is what is happening right now. The Lily Project is a community-based organization on the frontlines, helping women protect their bodies and their health. With COVID-19 sweeping through Nicaragua we temporarily shut-down our mobile health clinics for the safety of our patients and staff. However, we quickly moved online – using WhatsApp to reach and engage women in rural communities to provide COVID-19 information and ongoing sexual health counseling. We’ve been so successful in reaching and engaging women we will continue to offer these services in addition to our mobile health clinics. As we learned during the Nicaragua uprising in April 2018, Lily has what it takes to work through a crisis. At that time we described our approach as one of ‘creative resilience’ defined by an ability to adjust quickly to our new reality, stay focused on our mission, and make progress. Our work has made a profound difference in the lives of women, their families and their communities and we will continue. To date, The Lily Project’s clinics have visited 500 communities and screened more than 20,000 women for cervical cancer.
A donation in Susan’s honor was given by Barb Quaintance of AARP
In February 2020, Aylin Tanriverdi (17), a student of the Orpheus Academy of Music, started the ‘Musical Postcards for Seniors’ initiative in which she collects and edits hundreds of video greetings and concerts from Orpheus students. Orpheus sends them to nursing homes free of charge. The concerts have been viewed by seniors in over 760 nursing homes across 26 US states, 4 Canadian provinces, and 3 Australian states. Aylin Tanriverdi says: One of my biggest accomplishments is that I am a student and founding leader of the Musical Postcards for Seniors program at Orpheus Academy of Music in Austin, Texas. Our goal is to spread joy to nursing home residents through the gift of music. About 100 students, ages 5-17, at Orpheus have recorded and shared their music with nursing homes. Musical Postcards for Seniors started out small, at first only reaching seniors in Austin and the surrounding areas. It has quickly expanded to reach seniors around the world. We recently opened up a second round of music submissions so that more students can have the opportunity to share music with seniors. In a few words, tell us how many people your work has impacted (e.g. food boxes delivered, masks sewn, students tutored, etc.) Over 760 nursing homes in 26 states in the United States, 4 provinces in Canada, and 3 states in Australia have enjoyed the Musical Postcards. We would like to expand this program further to reach even more seniors and help them cope with the isolation and boredom of the pandemic.
Nominated by Dr. Klondike Steadman
Together Dolores and Martin have put in nearly 20,000 hours of volunteer time as Senior Corps RSVP volunteers, serving in a variety of many different capacities in their community from being an Activities Assistant helping our local veterans to giving comfort to Hospice patients. Most of the time you will find Martin and Dolores volunteering together. Martin joined RSVP in 1997 and has contributed to the community nearly 5 days a week since then. Martin has assisted with the Empty Stocking Program, Habitat for Humanity, Miles City Fire and Rescue, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store, and VA Montana Health Care System to name just a few non-profits that benefit from his services. Currently he volunteers at Custer County Food Bank and continued to do so since COVID. Prior to retirement Dolores was the Activities Coordinator at Holy Rosary Extended Care. Following her retirement, she continues to volunteer with activities at the facility. Dolores is also a regular volunteer at Friendship Villa Care Center, Holy Rosary Hospice, and in the medical records department at Holy Rosary Healthcare. Dolores has volunteered office assistant at Sacred Heart Parish School, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store, Custer County Food Bank. During COVID Dolores continues to volunteer at food bank and thrift store. In 2010, Dolores and Martin almost missed the Volunteer Appreciation Tea because they had to finish volunteering at the hospital before they attended.
In April 2020 the government of Botswana announced its first lockdown due to COVID-19. This came with a 6-month state of emergency. A lot of young people lost jobs and frustrated with the inability of the government to provide incentives. Christopher took it upon himself to champion job readiness training to young people taking advantage of the online medium as more youths shifted their time to social media. This saw positivity and traction of hope restoration and learning of new skills. Since April 2020 over 300 000 young people have been reached by the online learning of new skills to survive. Mr. Seagateng has further matched 1870 youths with career mentors who continue to guide and job shadow those seeking job opportunities. The online training impacted over 300 000 young job seekers across Botswana in learning and unlearning job readiness skills during COVID-19. This also saw 72 being employed out of the skills training initiative.
Nominated by Kagisanyo Masetlhe
Claudia Mayo is a military spouse, a hard worker, an extraordinary volunteer. Claudia has worked as a volunteer for Esposas Militares Hispanas USA for more than 12 years. Her dedication and commitment to our military families is admirable. Claudia is an essential part for our organization and her professionalism helps military families with language barriers all over the world. Her own experiences have helped many. Her enthusiasm helps ease the unforeseen for our military families with language Barriers. Claudia deserves this award for her hours of commitment to our military spouses with language barriers and our veterans.
Claudia Mayo says: My biggest accomplishment as a daughter of immigrant parents, being able to provide Grants to our military spouses to help offset the cost for Citizenship fees has been a great accomplishment that is close to my heart. Our Organization EMHUSA helps more than 10,000 spouses a year. Our mission is to help, encourage and support military spouses as Spanish is their first language. EMHUSA is there to assist with the language barrier, cultural challenges and give support to all members and lead them to a meaningful solution.
Nominated by Esposas Militares Hispanas USA Armed Forces
Ana has been a reliable pinch hitter as well as a great utility player for Volunteer Alexandria. She helps fill any need and is always open to help in any way she can. You’ll find her distributing food for ACPS at Cora Kelly, but also helping to translate, or filling in anywhere! Ana Rugie says: Recently, I was able to assist with providing devices for students to attend school remotely. The joy the kindergarten and first graders exhibited was extremely rewarding. I was glad to help both distribute and translate for those in need of some further information. Volunteer Alexandria as an organization provided many opportunities for me to volunteer. In nearly 4 months, I have had the opportunity to work on many projects: 1. World Hunger Kitchen – translator for meal distribution 2. ALIVE grocery packing, distribution and translation 3. Food distribution for school nutrition programs at TC Williams, Cora Kelly and pop up Mobile community distribution 4. Preparation of masks for distribution 5. Assist in Breaks with Impact High School service program 6. ACPS distribution of computer devices for virtual learning GW Middle School, and TC Williams’ 7. Assembling “Learning Together” kits for families 8. Senior Grocery Shopper – assisting Seniors who are shut in These activities allowed me to meet some great folks and log in over 115 hours, I appreciate all the work the teams do to support Alexandrians. Makes me proud to reside in such a positive and service-oriented community.
Nominated by Courtney McEllen
16-year-old Dhruv Pai has been doing some extraordinary service work since the age of 10–especially during the COVID-19. He is leading Teens Helping Seniors, his newly formed volunteer group, and is a brand ambassador for Arts-n-STEM4Hearts.Dhruv co-founded ‘Teens Helping Seniors’ in March 2020 to deliver groceries and essential services to seniors during the COVID crisis. Today, Teens Helping Seniors has 27 US chapters, over 650 volunteers and have made over 1650 deliveries. For Arts-n-STEM4Heart he is distributing ‘bags of love’ kits to health care workers. For his service work, Dhruv has received the Presidential Volunteer Service Award in 2019 & 2020, Congressional award silver medal, Carson scholar award and YSA everyday young hero award.
Dhruv Pai says: My biggest accomplishment has been founding grassroots, entirely teen-run volunteer organization, ‘Teens Helping Seniors’ during the COVID in early March. While I was helping my grandparents with groceries and medications (since they were afraid to step out of the house due to fears of contracting the virus), I thought that there may be several seniors and immunocompromised people who do not have family or friends close by to help them in getting essentials to them during the crisis. So, I reached out to my friends in the neighborhood who joined my efforts very early on to help me get the group started. It started with just me helping my neighbors and grandparents, to another friend joining me early on, and steadily expanded to over 650 volunteers that we have currently in our predominantly teen run group. We provide contactless deliveries of groceries and other essentials to the doorstep using a contactless delivery process following CDC guidelines (wearing masks, gloves and disinfecting bags). Currently, we have expanded nationally as well as internationally with 27 chapters across the US as well as in Canada. Our newest initiative is providing voter education to our seniors and any help with the ballot process. We have a dedicated team that is being trained to help our seniors with this process.
A donation in Dhruv’s honor was given by Mrs. Wolfson
Vilmarie Rivera is a military spouse, a translator, an extraordinary volunteer. Vilamrie has worked as a volunteer for Esposas Militares Hispanas USA for 3 years. Her dedication and commitment to our military families is admirable. Vilmarie is an essential part for our organization and her military family experience and and bilingual qualities helps military families with language barriers all year around. Vilmarie deserves this award for her hours of commitment to our military spouses with language barriers and our veterans. Esposas Militares Hispanas USA started as a Facebook group in December 2007, our group is our main point of contact with our Hispanic military families stationed in different parts of the world. Today we are a nonprofit organization with one main group and over 100 sub-groups and over 10k of members around the world. Vilmarie Rivera says: One of my roles as a volunteer for EMHUSA is being an administrator to help moderate our groups. Answering questions about military life, providing guidance and support to our military families. Part of my volunteer work is: English translator, Digital Advertising, Events Coordinator, Newsletter writer and community manager on Facebook groups. Our nonprofit organization has over 10,000 members today. My volunteer work doing translations every day to the organization allow me to help break the language barrier for our Hispanic Military Spouses and help them understand in their native languages, Spanish. The passion of the founder and mentor of the organization Janet Sanchez for our military families is admirable and worthy of emulating. I genuinely enjoy being able to help other families in different ways, like employment, counseling, translation, support, etc.
Nominated by Esposas Militares Hispanas USA Armed Forces
These 2 teenage sisters, Sam (16) and Laura (14) began a nonprofit to serve foster families by making hot, homemade meals at dinner time. They had thousands of volunteers reach out to participate and serve a growing number of foster families. During these unprecedented times, they are finding ways to get groceries donated and volunteers to cook and deliver meals. The gift of time is precious. They believe that foster families should keep the tradition of family meal time in their homes. This mission has grown to serve many foster families in the Tampa Bay area. The girls fundraise, write grants, recruit volunteers on social media, sell shirts, host events, and cook. Sam and Laura said: One of the biggest accomplishments for Feeding the Fosters Inc. was being named a Brawny Giant, which brought national attention to the mission of serving foster families in our community. The ultimate accomplishment is providing enough support to the foster families that they are able to continue taking in additional foster children. In just one year after becoming a nonprofit, we have over 1500 volunteers, serve 32 foster families and one sibling group home, and can provide up to 250 individual meals a night. We run a food pantry each Wednesday, hosted a back to school drive in August, provided Thanksgiving meals, encouraged business partners and restaurant sponsors and more.
Amazing Girls Science seeks to ignite girls’ interest in STEAM fields of study. At the same time, the activities help girls build core life skills, such as self-confidence, self-esteem, curiosity, problem-solving and positive risk-taking. Girls engaged in STEAM studies can become the innovative and creative thinkers needed to meet 21st Century challenges.
One of Amazing Girls Science biggest accomplishments was creating the Amazing Girls Science program to ignite the spark in girls for STEAM learning pathways. Since its launch, Amazing Girls Science has impacted the lives of 500 girls each year consecutively!
A donation in Dr. Barnett’s honor was given by Barb Quaintance of AARP
Michele has, does and continues to work tirelessly to support the autistic community and bridge the gap between law enforcement and the autistic community and families. During the pandemic, she helped families she supports with buying groceries and Other supplies out of her own, humble bank account and out of her big heart. Michele makes herself available 24/7 for families, even despite her having contracted COVID twice. She constantly is there for others, checks in on officers, and families she works with—all without pay. If anyone deserves to be acknowledged, it’s Michele. Michele Sanchez-Stierheim says: One of my biggest accomplishments was providing training and tools for law enforcement and the autistic community. I created picture exchange communication system boards (PECS), sharing social stories, and a manual exclusively for law enforcement. In addition, I helped establish meaningful, sustainable relationships between the two communities. I have organized annual events for the autistic community, and their families with first responders such as: Family Day; Trunk or Treat; and a Holiday party (sensitive Santa included). My favorite event was Family Day, when I managed to get both NYPD and NYC Dept. of Correction to join forces and fully engage families and children in a safe environment. All officers were given training prior to the event by me. Watching officers interact with over 200 families was nothing short of magical.
Nominated by Bella
Monica is the epitome of selfless service, constantly going above and beyond to make a difference in her community. You can find her mentoring children at local high schools whether she is leading them in the Character Does Matter program or helping them with a community service project. As an integral part of Travis Manion Foundation, she leads the Austin Chapter and the 9/11 Heroes Run. Monica sees a need and steps up to volunteer, whether it is leading cleanup efforts after rioting or handing out water to protesters. We constantly get feedback from parents telling us what a difference Monica has made in their teens’ lives, positively impacting them in ways they didn’t know were possible. Monica has dedicated her life to serving and this is where she finds her purpose. Monica Velez says: My biggest accomplishment is being a sister to both my brothers. Finding purpose through tragedy and being able to serve others has been an honor. I have never measured the impact I’ve had as an individual, but rather being part of the Travis Manion Foundation and helping impact my community as a whole. We started the Austin chapter in 2018. Today, we have over 100 volunteers in our area ranging in all ages from the Austin area. We have volunteered in numerous projects hosted the Travis Manion Foundation 9/11 Heroes Run at Camp Mabry reaching almost 500 participants in 2019.
Nominated by Tina Saari
Inspirational speaker, author and philanthropist, Ms. Corliss “Mama U” Udoema, doesn’t let anything stop her from being a blessing to others. As the founder of nonprofit Agape Love In Action, she supports the homeless, veterans and seniors across the U.S. through the Business Battle Buddy; Hope in a Bag; Reach 2 Feed; and Wisdom Meets Technology programs! She wants to show others that even though she suffers from arthritis, she still makes an impact! For 17+ years, her Bless Others during June initiatives are how she celebrates her birthday. Ms. Udoema, whose been profiled and quoted in the WBJ, has received many awards and national recognition. 71-year-old Mama U takes the “dis” out of disability to continue being a helping hand and loving heart to those in need. Mama U says: Through my work, I have been able to impact 15,000 to 18,000 people last year. I am 71-years-old and have severe arthritis in my knees. As a result, I had to do many projects virtually, particularly if there was a lot of walking. However, instead of doing less, I found that because of my determination to help others, I have recruited more volunteers which has enabled me to do more rather than less. In 2019, I organized packing and distribution of 12,000 bags to the homeless and engaged over 1400 volunteers for this project. In addition to the homeless project, I created and sold a veteran calendar which in two months, raised over $10,000 that was donated to a veteran’s retreat a 501(c)3. I am currently working with the Boys and Girls Club to pack 2,000 bags for hospital personnel and veterans who are hospitalized.
Nominated by NEST4US
Over six years ago, Linens N Love began with two sisters, Vivian and May Wang, after visiting an animal shelter for the first time. Vivian was 12 years old and May was 14 years old. Since then, Linens N Love has scaled to over 30 established Linens N Love Chapters and 500 volunteers from over 15 countries including the United States, Canada, India, Bangladesh, Ireland, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Pakistan, Peru, Singapore, and other countries. To date, May and Vivian’s organization has donated over 19,000 linens to animal shelters, women’s homes, homeless shelters, teen outreach centers, and more. This year, Vivian spearheaded Linens N Love’s Global Volunteers Program to restore volunteer opportunities to those who lost their volunteer opportunities due to COVID-19, overseeing over 200 volunteers and their individual initiatives (sewing masks, creating tutoring platforms, donating linens, donating pantry goods) and establishing a team of directors. Since 2014, Vivian and May have received $8,000 in grants and fundraising money which they plan on allocating towards building a web application for Linens N Love to maximize their impact and continue to take Linens N Love to a global level. Currently, May is growing Linens N Love in Singapore with other university students, hoping to integrate a certification program in hotels partnered with Linens N Love. Both Vivian and May have each accrued over 1,000 volunteer hours dedicated to training Linens N Love leaders, coordinating volunteer events, leading leadership summits, contacting local shelters and hotels, and packing, sorting, and donating linens. Linens N Love has received support from over 15 companies including Google, Disney, DHL, General Motors, and The Allstate Foundation. May and Vivian’s long-term vision with Linens N Love is to become a global social empire that can continue to systematically streamline and repurpose castoff hotel linens and to reach their mission of donating 100,000 linens to shelters around the world.
Nominated by Alice Hsu
Erin created a podcast called, Earth Rising as an investigative journey of how to bring our everyday interest of climate activism into a space both individually and collectively. The show’s intention is to provide a respite of daily life giving us a chance to connect with people and ideas that uplift our world. Erin, the podcast guide, takes us on an exploration of how many realms of thought and expression illuminate climate activism of all types. Stories are told by artists, authors, spiritual teachers, and guardians of the natural world. As listeners we can learn to be better active stewards of the earth. Erin’s work is making an impact to encourage self-growth, as well as, empowering individuals and communities to be called to action.
Nominated by Emily Garrigus
Jeeva created wearable products that specifically address social justice issues like the “Me Too” movement. She is working on mimicking the technology from an emergency blue light box from university campuses into gadgets. Jeeva sees this as a common pattern for the victim, assailant, and witness that stands out in almost all countries. She has helped protect numerous women in rural areas from getting raped in India with her incredible wearable technology. She fundraises money, and gives out these gadgets for free to the communities that need them. Not only that, but Jeeva has gone international by keeping Black Americans safe and away from police brutality through the Privando gadgets she has created. One of Privando’s biggest achievements is successfully resolving the anti-blackness in the Southeast Asian Community through bringing together all sorts of people from different ethnicities, backgrounds, and communities that have unique needs. Women from rural India and Africa have been working together to help understand and fix each other’s problem of safety. Our team has created wearable products mimicking the technology from an emergency blue light box to help protect other women. There has been such powerful change when women from these two communities are able to share their voices and stories of oppression from two completely different countries. Currently keeping 2,857 victims safe worldwide.
During these tumultuous times, Potri of Kinding Sindaw continues to forge unity, strength, and hope in the Filipino community through her leadership and services. During this COVID-19 pandemic, she advocated the importance of health and wellness during these times: from wearing and distributing masks to explaining the importance of social distancing. She had helped pick-up medication for the elderly population in her neighborhood in Jackson Heights, as well as check-in on the mental health and wellness of her community. She would connect her community to resources such as food, COVID testing, and other amenities. Through Kinding Sindaw, she brought together webinar panels and community dialogue: from cultural performances to discussing Black Solidarity. Potri said, “my biggest accomplishment in life is when I see my youngest daughter taking over my task as the lead of the Kinding Sindaw Heritage Foundation.”
Nominated by Michael Garrovillas
Throughout the pandemic, Leslie has been a constant bright light. In addition to being a regular at ALIVE! Truck-to-Trunk events, she also distributes meals to ACPS students and makes home-cooked meals for New Hope Housing. In collaboration with Volunteer Alexandria, and also their partnership with ALIVE!, we’ve distributed thousands of meals to children and adults since the beginning of the pandemic, and continue to do so. We also help distribute diapers, laptops, etc., as needed in support of Alexandria City School District. Leslie Thorton says: On my own, I’ve donated hundreds of masks which I’ve personally purchased. I’d say one of my biggest accomplishments was taking leave from my job and going to Oklahoma City on my own to volunteer with the Miami Dade Search and Rescue team where I worked at the bomb site for a week helping families, the search teams, and other first responders.
Nominated by Courtney McEllen
Megan is the epitome of selfless. Not only was she the 2018 Disneyland VoluntEAR of the Year, but her passion for making a difference in the local community has spread even more during this time of COVID. While some may be fearful of going out into the public and being in tight spaces with strangers, Megan is called to the volunteer work. Due to Disneyland’s temporary closure, she has used her new-found time to volunteer full days regularly at Mary’s Soup Kitchen and a food distribution organization. She does not let the fear of contact with COVID stop her because she knows the need for help has become even greater during this time. Megan is fearless, kind, and pours her heart into everything she does. Megan Matsumoto says: Since the pandemic, I have been volunteering about 40 hours every week. I volunteer most of my time at Mary’s Kitchen 4 to 5 days a week where we prepare food for the homeless. I have also helped at the OC Food Bank to pack boxes of food for low-income seniors, and with Second Harvest’s Pop-Up Drive Thru Food Distribution to give bags of canned food and produce to households in OC. When it comes to volunteering, my biggest accomplishment is knowing that the work I am doing is leaving a meaningful impact. It is overwhelming to know I have helped to make sure thousands of people in the community to not go hungry, but what is even more significant to me is when I have had an individual look me in the eye and tell me how much the work I do is impacting their life. That is the motivation to keep me doing what I am doing.
Nominated by Allie Kawamoto Choy
Keila Rosado is a military spouse, a veteran caregiver, a hard worker, an extraordinary volunteer. Keila works as a volunteer for Esposas Militares Hispanas USA for more than 3 years. Her dedication and commitment to our military families is admirable. Keila is an essential part for our organization and her professionalism helps military families with language barriers all over the world. She is our Education Assistance and a leader on our PTSD group for military spouses with language barriers. Keila deserves this award for her hours of commitment to our military spouses with language barriers and our veterans. In addition, she also leads a special group for military spouses who are caregivers to military and veterans with PTSD. Keila is an education assistant in an online program where hundreds of military wives learn English day-by-day and break the language barrier. She also influences people to be leaders and become and entrepreneurs.
Nominated by Esposas Militares Hispanas USA Armed Forces
Anthony joined Cub Scouts in first grade and has been given many service opportunities supporting the military and our veterans. When it was time to work on his Eagle project, he chose America’s VetDogs / Guide Dog Foundation. He was so impressed by how the puppies were trained to support our veterans and those with disabilities. His project would support the trainers of the dogs who would eventually go out to work. To begin, he planned and ran a spaghetti dinner fundraiser with the support of his fellow scouts, friends and family. He raised enough money to cover his expenses and make a donation. During the next few weeks, Anthony led a team to build a valet messaging box to help keep track of the trainer’s vehicles and locations, as well as, built six and repaired two puppy activity boxes. These boxes are made of PVC and have multiple sensory dog toys hanging inside them to help train the puppies. One is given to each new puppy as it begins the training process. Just before the pandemic, Anthony was able to deliver the valet box along with the eight puppy activities boxes to America’s VetDogs. He was also able to present them with a donation check for $1050 from his fundraiser. Anthony looks forward to volunteering at America’s VetDogs when he turns 16, which is the minimum age requirement.
Yashira Rivera is a military spouse, a hard worker, an extraordinary volunteer. Yashira has worked as a volunteer for Esposas Militares Hispanas USA for 3 years. Her dedication and commitment to our military families is admirable. Yashira is an essential part for our organization and her military family experience and her bilingual qualities helps military families with language barriers Yashira deserves this award for her hours of commitment to our military spouses with language barriers and our veterans. Yashira Rivera says: One of my biggest accomplishments within the organization is being able to help military spouses with break language barriers. It has impacted the Hispanic military community tremendously. I had shared my story with them about how I overcame my fear of speaking another language and now I’m working as a professional.
Nominated by Esposas Militares Hispanas USA Armed Forces
As a cancer survivor, Sarah uses her voice to fight for access to life-saving care for other patients. In May, Sarah served as the emcee for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Virtual Advocacy Summit. Everyone who participated was inspired by her passion and knowledge. Sarah also was featured on social media, sharing her story and urging lawmakers to protect patients. The LLS posts were seen nearly 3,000 times, and used as part of a training to teach advocates how to speak with lawmakers. She also held virtual meetings with several members of Congress. Sarah’s leadership on behalf of cancer patients has been vital in LLS’s efforts to fight for access to care, during a time when they need it more than ever.
Nominated by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Office of Public Policy
Mrs. Austin-McGrier inspires many women and supports the community. Last year, she started a blanket campaign to supply homeless people with much needed blankets during the colder months. In addition, she has supported various campaigns such as the Susan B.Coleman Breast Cancer Foundation. Mrs. Austin-McGrier motivates women to be their personal best and to overcome the trials of life. She continuously seeks ways to uplift people and encourage them to live beyond struggle and pain. Mrs. Austin-McGrier is a woman with a heart to serve. She puts her efforts into helping to change lives. Even when asked to provide bookbags and supplies during the pandemic, she heeded the call and personally purchased 50 bags for the youth. Mrs. Austin-McGrier says: Words cannot express how I am feeling at this moment. I thank you for taking the opportunity to recognize who I am and my mission to help those in need. The journey here has been rough. The COVID pandemic has seemed like a curse to some, and created hardship for many. During this troubling time, my family and I have been blessed with additional opportunities to provide for and show love to the people in the community. My biggest accomplishment in this pandemic is not only being blessed enough to see another day, but to give to a family or a homeless person who is in need of help.
Nominated by Sharon Cummings
Crusimar Pacheco is a military spouse, a veteran with PTSD caregiver, a hard worker, an extraordinary volunteer. Crusimar has worked as a volunteer for Esposas Militares Hispanas USA for more than 3 years. Her dedication and commitment are admirable. Crusimar is an essential part for our organization and her professionalism helps military families with language barriers all over the world. She is leader for our PTSD group for military spouses with language barriers. Her experiences help other caregivers in our organization. Crusimar deserves this award for her hours of commitment to our military spouses with language barriers and our veterans. Crusimar Pacheco says: During my time being a part of EMHUSA, we have impacted over 6,000 members and their families. Inside of EMHUSA, I’m one of the PTSD leaders, which has impacted over 600 members. This experience has been very fulfilling and meaningful to me. It has given me a completely different perspective on life, and a never ending strive for leadership.
Nominated by Esposas Militares Hispanas USA Armed Forces
Mark can be found here, there, and everywhere, filling in the gaps whenever a volunteer is needed during the pandemic. You’ll spot this superstar volunteer distributing meals to ACPS students, bringing Meals on Wheels to seniors, delivering bread donated by Great Harvest to nonprofits, or helping at the Diaper Drive. In addition, Mark regularly volunteers with ALIVE! for a variety of shifts and programs COVID answered my question of how to get involved. When the schools closed in the City of Alexandria, a large number of children who relied on the free and reduced lunch program were facing loss of a substantial portion of their daily diet. The City Schools asked Volunteer Alexandria for help in staffing daily food distribution pick up locations. Mark Fitzsimmons says: I spent 3 months involved in that program, helping to distribute food at a variety of the city’s schools. I moved around to different schools all over the city, trying to find the locations that seemed to have the biggest need. Numbers varied by time and location, but there were many days where we passed out well over 1000 meals. When the academic year ended, the Schools’ summer food program started, and there was no longer a need for volunteers. At that point I moved over to the Office of Senior Services Meals on Wheels program. I am now settled on a route a couple days a week with lunch and dinner deliveries to approximately ten citizens. Once you resolve to do something, it is pretty easy to get involved. I heartedly recommend it.
Nominated by Courtney McEllen
David Bisignani and Mark Stempak have gone above and beyond to ensure homebound seniors receive food assistance. In April, as a response to the pandemic, RSVP of Mahoning Valley partnered with other agencies to deliver boxes of food from a food bank to seniors unable to go pick up the food themselves due to the pandemic. It was quickly realized that many of the seniors who receive this service would need it in the long term. Mark and David both stepped up to help this program grow and sustain. They pick-up, package, and deliver food every week. Their continued service and support make this program possible. Over 400 unique persons have been served since April, and 1,600 boxes of food have been packaged and delivered. And it continues to grow.
Nominated by Leah Sakacs
Trista VanderVoord has volunteered for most of her life. Trista has coached middle school robotics students for the last 3 years as part of Red Storm Robotics. She has motivated the students to do local outreach and build clever robots that have qualified 2 of her team to the Michigan state FIRST Tech Challenge competition. Trista VanderVoord says: I’ve acted as a mentor for Red Storm Robotics teams of Kentwood for several years. When the pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, I wanted to use our team’s technology and manpower for good. I created a West Michigan volunteer effort named Red Storm Cares: Operation Face Shield. Our group included: five robotics teams, and 9 individuals, 3D printing PPE, plus 35 generous donors from the community that provided supplies. I set up a request and distribution site and ultimately delivered nearly 11,000 face shields and ear saver devices for face masks in just nine weeks.
Nominated by Wendy Joy Ljungren
Alejandro De La Pena, Jr. is an amazing special education teacher. He passionately advocates for all of his students and helps them believe in themselves beyond their limits. Since he started working at Parkland Middle School, he has helped bring in lots of donations. Before he started working there, the school had only been able to get less than $200 in almost 20 years of the crowd-funding website, DonorsChoose. Usually a school can bring about $1,000 to $2,000 a year on this website, but my husband secured plenty more. His first year he got $17,000 and last year another $11,000 in donations. In total he’s helped the school get almost $60,000 in donations!! Plus, he organized a community inspirational speaking event that highlighted community members. The donations and grants have reached all of our school’s 1,400 low-income students each year in one way or another.
Nominated by Ana De La Pena
Jeff Cary works for United Way for Greater Austin with our 2-1-1 program. He oversees our Community Information and Disaster Response team. Since the onset of COVID-19 he has worked long hours to ensure Texans have access to up-to-date, accurate information about essential community resources for COVID-19. He has created tools that have been utilized by thousands of Central Texans to access information about emergency food resources. Currently, Jeff is leading 2-1-1’s response to Hurricane Laura and took the initiative to work with the State Operation Center to create a ‘search and rescue’ protocol for 2-1-1 callers that will potentially save lives. Jeff’s work is often behind the scenes, but his work positively impacts thousands. His biggest accomplishment was helping coordinate and distribute thousands of hygiene kits to organizations that work with individuals experiencing homelessness. In addition to coordinating the distribution of 50,000 masks to over 20 nonprofits and Pre-K centers in the Austin.
Nominated by Amy Price
Lois is exceptional volunteer for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. As an acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) survivor, she understands how isolated a patient can feel when they are diagnosed and/or going through treatment. When COVID-19 hit, she reached out to 236 patients between April and June 30, 2020! She was determined to reach out to as many people as possible so that she could connect with them and let them know that LLS programs and services were available and most importantly that staff and volunteers were there for them. Because of Lois and her giving heart, her empathy, and her drive to help others, our local patients received a personal calls and/or emails right away so no one felt alone.
Nominated by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – Patient & Community Outreach
Rick had a number of rural and metro friends who were discussing the impact of COVID-19 on Kansas non-farm families, and how they could connect them with farmers to purchase their fresh produce. Rick decided to create a social media group of about 40 individuals and volunteers, and designed a website to make the connections. The idea was explosive! There are now over 140,000 participants and a national movement, which connects farmers to customers in multiple states. Rick has received national and international recognition for conceiving, creating, and connecting thousands of families facing food insecurity to farmers across America. Selfless action qualifies for recognition. In response to COVID-19 and food insecurity in Kansas, Rick also received support from troops enlisted in the Kansas National Guard to help package more than 8 million meals for hungry people since April of 2020.
A donation in Rick’s honor was given by Floyd Hammer
Hildegard House provides a home, and compassionate care for individuals at the end of life who have no personal living space or loved ones to care for them so that they may die with dignity. Every resident has access to a hospice team which is composed of a nurse, a nurse’s aide, a social worker and chaplain. Meals, laundry, housekeeping and companionship are a part of the home setting at the Hildegard House. Karen Cassidy is the founder of Hildegard House, and one of her biggest accomplishments was starting the organization as a place where individuals with no loved ones could receive hospice care before they depart this Earth. Hildegard House serves about 50 people a year. It is run by volunteers, called Compassionate Companions, who provide all the care a family member would provide. They don’t charge a fee to residents and rely totally on donations. Hildegard House is a compassionate community providing care to their most vulnerable neighbors.
A donation in Karen’s honor was given by Barb Quaintance of AARP
Together Dolores and Martin have put in nearly 20,000 hours of volunteer time as Senior Corps RSVP volunteers, serving in a variety of many different capacities in their community from being an activities assistant, helping local veterans, and giving comfort to Hospice patients. Most of the time you will find Martin and Dolores volunteering together. Martin joined RSVP in 1997 and has contributed to the community nearly 5 days a week since then. One of Martin’s volunteer supervisors says “He’s a jack of all trades.” She went on to say, “Martin provided computer tech services and helped with whatever I needed.” Martin has assisted with the Empty Stocking Program, Habitat for Humanity, Miles City Fire and Rescue, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store, and VA Montana Health Care System to name just a few nonprofits that benefit from his services. Currently, he volunteers at Custer County Food Bank and continued to do so since COVID.
Prior to retirement Dolores was the Activities Coordinator at Holy Rosary Extended Care. Following her retirement, she continues to volunteer with activities at the facility. Dolores is also a regular volunteer at Friendship Villa Care Center, Holy Rosary Hospice, and in the medical records department at Holy Rosary Healthcare. Dolores has volunteered as an office assistant at Sacred Heart Parish School, St. Vincent DePaul Thrift Store and Custer County Food Bank. During COVID Dolores continues to volunteer at food bank and thrift store. In 2010, Dolores and Martin almost missed the Volunteer Appreciation Tea because they had to finish volunteering at the hospital before they attended.
Nominated by Betty Vail
Genu is the founder of Voice of Calling. After winning a 3D printer in a youth competition, Voice of Calling began to use their prize to help others and immediately started making the face shields for medical personnel in the Los Angeles are during the early stages of the pandemic. Although it takes roughly 2 hours to manufacture, they managed to produce 100 masks and delivered them to Northridge Hospital. As they would like to make more, they are in the process of buying another 3D printer and researching ways to make face shields more efficiently in a timely manner. They will continue to make face shields and distribute them until this pandemic comes to a halt. Another hospital in our area, Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, requested 100 face shields. Voice of Calling is about a group of passionate teens are getting together to change the world.
Nominated by Chuyeon Lee
Alana Weisberg, an avid reader, felt blessed that her school had effective online schooling. Alana is aware of the existing educational gap and learned that up to 40% of LAUSD students were not logging on for online school. She worked with several literacy-based nonprofits to get books into the hands of children in under-served communities. She personally collected and distributed over 2500 books. She inspired more than 100 volunteers to collect and donate books. Alana leveraged technology to play an essential role in creating social good. She created how-to materials and did demos to teach volunteers and organization leaders on how to leverage the internet to combat illiteracy and the widening educational gap. One of Alana’s biggest accomplishments was donating more than 5000 books to children in under-served communities that are at risk for illiteracy during the pandemic. Inspiring approximately 150 volunteers and helping 9 organizations that promote literacy.
A donation in Alana’s honor was given by Carrie Stern
From founding & running a dental charity to giving a substantial portion of his Jeopardy! championship winnings to pancreatic cancer research (and raising more than $250K in the process), Avi has always been deeply engaged in the community around him. During COVID-19, Avi was one of the founding members of LifeMech and helped design and build a low cost, open-source ventilator that has received FDA approval. This device has already had an immense impact with ongoing talks to supply the ventilator to communities in need around the world (Zambia, Peru, Southeast Asia). Over past summer (after his freshman year in college) he worked with a team to design and develop medical-grade, low-cost ventilator to treat COVID-19 patients around the world called the LifeMech Adaptive Ventilation System (AVS). The device has now received FDA approval, and they hope to partner with nonprofits and government organizations to get our device to where it is needed most.
Nominated by Madhu
Katie Mode has been working two jobs and is a full-time college student at the Charleston Southern University. She was Miss Cosmos International 2019 and it gave her the opportunity to create her own platform, Feeding the Fearless. The idea behind Feeding the Fearless was to make sure first responders know they are not forgotten. She would make snack bags for them to have in their cars so they have something to eat since they don’t always get breaks. Their shifts don’t guarantee breaks. Katie has over 1,000 community service hours in less than a year and has received the Gold Level President’s Volunteer Service Award for the past 4 years. She is a wonderful role model for all ages!
A donation in Katie’s honor was given by Renee McNair-Austin
When COVID-19 first hit in March, masks were hard to come by. Shayne knew she had to step up and help. She found a dusty sewing machine in her garage and began to sew. Since then, she has personally made over 650 masks which she regularly sends to local children’s hospitals and ERs while also mailing masks across the country to anyone in need. She continually modifies her mask design to make sure that they are as comfortable as possible for healthcare providers. She even made masks out of her old t-shirts when she ran out of fabric! She says, ‘If the t-shirt is tie-dye, that’s even better!’
Beyond Differences empowers students to end social isolation in middle school through online and on campus programs. We want to ensure that every child in middle school feels accepted, included and valued by their peers no matter what their differences. Our innovative national programs (Know Your Classmates, No One Eats Alone and Be Kind Online) have inspired a cultural and behavioral shift at middle schools and high schools across the country. Please share one of your biggest accomplishments: I am most proud of the fact that Beyond Differences was founded in memory and in honor of my daughter, Lili Rachel Smith, in 2010 after her passing and has now grown to be a vibrant and exciting student-led organization that has raised awareness all over the United States about the issue of social isolation among youth. In a few words, tell us how many people your work has impacted (e.g. food boxes delivered, masks sewn, students tutored, etc.). Our school-based curriculum, Positive Prevention Initiatives and student leadership activities are now being used in over 6000 schools in all 50 states. We are affecting the lives of millions of students who attend these schools by giving them the inspiration, tools and training to become a leader and change the culture of their own middle school. Each year, our organization ships thousands of toolkits and backpacks to schools all across the country filled with supplies, a Teacher’s Guide, and swag for the students to help them celebrate Know Your Classmates Day, No One Eats Alone Day and Be Kind Online Day!
Patel, a former Points of Light recipient, is a millennial who has connected thousands of children in the United States and abroad through virtual platforms to foster cross-cultural understanding and citizen-to-citizen diplomacy. In April 2018, Patel lost his only sibling, 26-year-old twin brother, Anand Happy Patel, to a plane crash in Arizona. He later founded the Happy World Foundation Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes global citizenship in schools and communities worldwide. The Global Connect database at the nonprofit, one of the 8 programs at HWF Inc., comprises of 1200 volunteers from over 120 countries that virtually hangout with children in classrooms across USA and the world, fostering a happy world free of prejudice and bigotry. One of his biggest accomplishments was in June 2020, he was elected to the National Council of the United Nations Association of the United States of America to serve the 2020-2022 term and appointed as the Chair of the Global Engagement Summit, the largest gathering of global activists and grassroots changemakers in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations.
Nominated by Hilda de Leon Xavier
Colebrookdale Railroad Preservation Trust is a grassroots community and economic development organization powered by volunteers. It was named a Preserve America Steward in 2015 by President Obama. Each year, the Trust invests hundreds of thousands of hours and millions of dollars into grassroots preservation-based community and economic development, creating jobs, teaching life skills to at-risk youth, and boosting the regional economy. Its volunteers come from all over the world. During the coronavirus crisis, the organization transformed its historic passenger train into a train of mercy, collecting and delivering food or original pantry is decimated by an overwhelming need. The organization’s volunteers have modeled their mission after President Bush.
Nominated by Nathaniel Guest
Virginia’s greatest gift to those who live at the Vaughn Ball home are not the birthday cakes, the flowers for the garden, the magazines, or the games, which is all done by choice. Typically, those who come into the program have struggled with control, or the lack of it. They have been around a system where recommendations have been presented without much explanation, so they forget that they have the ability to choose. Throughout their lives, other people have been choosing for them, be those advocates or doctors. Every little thing that Virginia does for the gentlemen at Vaughn Ball empowers them to let them know they have the freedom to make their own choices. She treats them as adults, acknowledging their independence by asking rather than imposing. Virginia is someone who’s mission is to always give voice to those who can’t speak for themselves.
Nominated by Janet Davison
I have known De’Andre since 2007. Since I’ve known him, he has been an advocate for change and the youth. He used to coach a basketball team in metro Atlanta and lead them to multiple championships. The majority of his students who are young men by the way, have all went off to college or the military. When his students/mentees needed help with getting into college, tutors for schooling, scholarships, financial aid assistance, De’Andre’s vision has helped propel these students and their families to the next level. In addition, he started 4 Brighter Futures Foundation. He has already hosted two awards galas for other luminaries who are giving back to their communities.
Dr. De’Andre Pickett says: I have spent the last 14 years working in the school system, engaging young men who some have completely forgotten about. I created a year-round basketball program to keep young men out of church and focused and in school. For me, the biggest accomplishment has been seeing nearly 250 young men not only graduate out of our program, but 100% of them graduated high school and all but 3 young men went off to college, military, trade school or immediately into workforce. This for me has been the blessing that keeps me going.
Nominated by Crystal Simmons
Dr. Jeffrey Zipper founded iRecovery USA with the mission to provide continued treatment for those suffering from addiction and mental health disorders. When COVID-19 spread, treatment programs needed to transform completely. iRecovery’s treatment programs allow patients to have access to therapy and medical advice from the comfort of their own homes. Dr. Zipper uses a medical care approach in treating his patients and gives a step-by-step guideline to parents who need help Dr. Zipper uses a medical care approach in treating his patients and gives a step by step guideline to parents who need help with taking care of their loved ones suffering from addiction or mental health disorders.
Nominated by Alana Pulver
Leslie has been a volunteer at Loaves and Fishes for the past two years. As soon as the COVID pandemic began she started going above and beyond to do what she could for the community. She did not let anything stand in her way to make sure those that were hungry were being fed. If you put an obstacle in front of her she found a way around it to serving meals outside or delivering if needed. She has taken on a paid position as executive director but still spends countless unpaid hours there spinning her wheels on what else she can do to help. She has been known to sit up there when its storming just so people wouldn’t have to sit outside, she has given people rides in the rain or extreme heat, she has bought them meals for helping her. The small nonprofit is feeding 4000 to 5000 people a month. They do a community giveaway every Thursday and have given away up to 10,000 pounds of food and today under hurricane warning I personally delivered about 300 boxes of food to area neighborhoods that needed them.
Nominated by Chris Jenkins
Simran Bhargava has done a great deal of work for her community, at such a young age. In April of 2016, she co-founded a nonprofit organization with her friend when she was just 13 years old. Through her organization, Simran collects toiletries and gently used shoes which are donated to local homeless shelters and developing countries. Simran has inspired many young people to join her cause by recruiting over 60 members that are in middle school, high school, and college. For a large amount of donations, Simran personally goes to the shelters that her organization donates to in order to talk to the people she is helping. With the coronavirus, Simran made over reusable 150 masks and donated them to local centers. She donated face shields and toiletries.
Nominated by Pinki Rawal
Give Essential is an organization that links donors with essential workers struggling to make ends meet. Since the nonprofit first launched in April, Give Essential has reached over 15,000 essential workers and donors in 49 states with nearly $500,000 in donations. Since April, Give Essential has been able to raise the equivalent of $1 million in in-kind and cash donation to essential workers in all 50 states. Their team of 200+ volunteers have reached over 20,000 essential workers and donors. Volunteers help facilitate the exchange of care packages between donors and essential workers.