San Antonio volunteers honored at 25th Annual Volunteer of the Year Awards event
- June 26, 2014
- Posted by: swebadmin
- Category: News
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS (June 25, 2014) – The Volunteer Center at United Way hosted the 25th annual Volunteer of the Year Awards dinner Wednesday, June 25, 2014, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, Ballroom C, at 7 p.m.
Over 900 people attended the Night of a Thousand Stars program to thank local citizens whose good works help improve the community. Over 141 local heroes were nominated.
At this year’s Volunteer of the Year Awards, San Antonio’s single-largest volunteer recognition event of the year, 18 awards saluted the feats of volunteers living throughout San Antonio and Bexar County. All nominees received recognition and a $1,000 mini-grant was presented to each of winners to benefit their charity of choice.
In observance of the event’s 25th anniversary, there was special entertainment, including dance and poetry readings by the members of the Eastside Branch of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Antonio. Sea World whale trainer, actor, and Spurs in-arena host Chuck Cureau was emcee for the festivities.
Local volunteers have touched the lives of thousands of children and families across our community. In addition to United Way awards honoring individuals, families, and groups; awards were presented for nonprofit, faith-based, business, military and labor organizations, and The Mayor’s Youth Awards.
Event chairs were Kim Bowers, CEO and President of CST Brands; and Lieutenant General Perry Wiggins, Commander, US Army North (Fifth Army) and Senior Commander of Fort Sam Houston and Camp Bullis.
The Volunteer of the Year Awards Presenting Sponsors are Humana and Valero Energy Corp. Platinum Galaxy sponsors include CST Brands, H-E-B Tournament of Champions, the Gambrinus Company, the City of San Antonio, and Bear Audio Visual.
Volunteering is a unique part of the American culture. The next generation learns from the one before and multiple generations of families come together to help others. Volunteerism helps change the lives of other individuals and improve communities; it is known to have health benefits, enhance careers, provide social connections, and engender a sense of satisfaction in the volunteers themselves.
The value of a volunteer is more than just time spent. Research finds a significant connection between volunteering and good health. Reports show that volunteers have a greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease.
Working in the community since 1989, the Volunteer Center at United Way is Bexar County’s largest resource devoted solely to the promotion and nurturing of volunteerism and community service.
The Volunteer Center helps to engage volunteers for both United Way and non-United Way agencies, as well as for a variety of community projects including: the Raul Jimenez Thanksgiving Dinner, H-E-B Annual Feast of Sharing, Martin Luther King Day, volunteers for disasters (hurricanes, floods, fires), in addition to hundreds of non-profit and civic projects during the year.
The Volunteer Center at United Way also sponsors year-round Days of Caring. Corporate and group volunteers can choose any season for a Day of Caring. Partnering with the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department, the Volunteer Center coordinates four large projects at various parks, in every season of the year. Projects include beautification, tree planting, painting, mulching, and other tasks. The Volunteer Center also assists in developing projects for volunteer teams to work at local nonprofit agencies.
Founded in 1940, United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County has been helping the individuals, families and neighborhoods of San Antonio to live united for the past 74 years.
2014 AWARD WINNERS
Name: Kelly Jobe
Category: Community Service Award – Individual
Kelly was placed at The Bridge Emergency Shelter when he was 12 years old, and then at Roy Maas Youth Alternatives (RMYA) Residential Treatment Center, where he lived for six years. Volunteers in the Boerne community helped pay for his high school ring. After graduation, he became a resident of RMYA’s first Transitional Independent Living Program and then went to live with the agency’s founding Executive Director, Roy Maas, for seven years.
Jobe was a Thrift Shop employee for about 15 years before deciding to go his own way. When he could no longer work full-time because of a disability, he came back to RMYA to volunteer. Because of this personal relationship, Jobe wanted to give back to the organization that had such an influence on him. He truly feels like RMYA is his family.
On medical disability due to health issues – including asthma, depression, and seizures stemming from hydrocephalus as a child; Jobe takes the bus, an hour each way, every day except Sunday, to volunteer at the RMYA Thrift Shop.
Jobe arrives around 8:30 a.m. to volunteer Monday through Saturday. During his nearly three years of service, he has racked up over 4,000 volunteer hours. He helps unload donations, puts items out on the floor for sale, organizes the storage area; and takes great pride in dusting, mopping and cleaning every nook and cranny of the store. He is always cheerful and eager to help in any capacity. He is one of the “faces of RMYA,” representative not just of the agency, but also of the children served. Many clients greet Jobe by name, recognizing him from his years as an employee. They bring him homemade treats or tip him for helping them bring purchases to their cars. His friendly personality puts a smile on everyone’s faces and; as a former resident; he is an inspiration to the youth.
There are many volunteers in San Antonio who are cheerful and helpful but not so many who have overcome childhood abuse and remain involved with the agency that raised them. Jobe is a wonderful ambassador for RMYA and he gives his time cheerfully with love in his heart. His health has always been a challenge but, aside from hospital stays, this has not stopped him from volunteering.
Name: Riebeling Family
Category: Community Service Award – Family
Experiencing the effects of poverty growing up, Elisa Medina-Riebeling decided early on that she would give back to the community that helped her overcome challenges and obstacles – extreme poverty, severe speech impairment, family alcoholism, and domestic violence. Riebeling sought to serve in community initiatives that led her to 20 years of nonprofit service. While raising seven children (now ages 20-33), the Riebeling’s taught them the importance of helping others. From that dedication, Our Father’s Kingdom Service (OFKS) was birthed. The family is passionate about serving, displaying love, compassion, and kindness while helping those in need.
Since 1997, Riebeling has been collecting donations for the poverty-stricken. Her husband and children were among the first volunteers, helping to organize and deliver donated clothing, food, furniture and household items. Operating out of their two-car garage, the family gave to individuals and families throughout the city, including two drug-rehabilitation homes for men on San Antonio’s Eastside. In 2005, OFKS was registered as a nonprofit organization. In 2013, the family served approximately 9560 hours.
Mr. Riebeling has served as the OFKS storehouse manager (for more than 16 years), operating first from their garage to the current five donated storage spaces. In 2013 he supervised his sons in the collection, sorting, and delivery of more than 50,000 pounds of donations. Mrs. Riebeling and her eldest daughter, Jennifer, coordinated additional volunteers to process applications for 141 households, which included 55 veterans, and 105 children, (households also included the mentally ill, formerly incarcerated, victims of domestic violence, the disabled, and people shut in due to illness and disease).
When people call in hungry after office hours, Riebeling organizes her family to deliver emergency groceries. More than 2,000 pounds of food was delivered through the 24-Hour Help outreach that she created to fill the gap of a delivery service for emergency food and hygiene products that she has seen in our community. Her last words when sending them to purchase specialized items for children is, “Don’t forget the milk, diapers and wet-wipes.”
All ten family members volunteer in some capacity. Because of their own financial trials, the Riebelings know what it’s like to be in need. They have witnessed gaps in the system, which fuels their passion to serve. With faith and perseverance they bring relief to others. The four college-aged children have stepped in to serve on evenings and weekends even while working part-time and attending college.
Name: San Antonio Parrot Head Club
Category: Community Service Award – Group
When a volunteer group has a motto like “Party with a Purpose,” you can be sure they will bring lots of fun to any volunteering situation. The San Antonio Parrot Head Club (SAPHC) is characterized by their unique ability to combine effective community change and a great time. The Parrot Heads give their time, food, and great attitude to the San Antonio Food Bank through a variety of volunteering opportunities, including monthly volunteering at the warehouse and fundraising at Food Bank events.
Volunteering for the past seven years, The Parrot Head Club also helps with mobile pantry distribution and collecting food and monetary donations. In 2013, the SAPHC contributed $34,905 in cash and donations and donated 1,626 community service hours. During the County Line Fundraising event last year alone, the Parrot Heads brought in approximately 4,000 pounds of food and over $11,000. Approximately 120 people volunteer per year, which provides 30,000 pounds of sorted food and 23,438 meals, annually. A hardworking group, they can be trusted to accomplish whatever task is set before them, and do it with a great attitude.
The Parrot Heads are full of energy no matter what the volunteer task, bringing out their boom box and encouraging everyone to have a great time while helping others.
Name: Jonathan Cohea
Category: Military Service Award – Individual
A1C Jonathan Cohea has a big heart, especially for the children in need at the San Antonio Children’s Shelter. Each child is important and special to him. He visits as often as he can. His enthusiasm and care spread to those around him, and he confidently rallies everyone in his unit and family to get involved in public service. Being a member of the USAF, he is very serious about his responsibility as a positive role model for the children who may not have one.
Cohea has selflessly dedicated more than 65 hours of volunteer/play with the children at the Children’s Shelter. Each time he visits, he spends time with the kids reading books, playing sports, and helping with homework. He also arranges pet therapy visits with his mom and her service dog. Last Christmas, the gifts Cohea and his fellow Airmen collected were the only presents the children received that year.
Each time, Cohea is the sole coordinator for these special events and visits. He has inspired over 20 new volunteers to get involved and has collected over $2,000 in gifts and donations. Cohea spends time nurturing and comforting infants, as well as mentoring and developing young minds in the older children. Cohea and the Airmen who volunteer alongside him, show the community how important the core value of Service Before Self is.
A1C Cohea stands out because he wants to inspire people to get involved, make a difference, and commit to a cause that is greater than themselves. He uses all of the same strong characteristics, such as dedication, hard-work, and willingness to help, that make him a successful Airman in the United States Air Force. Without a thought to accolades and awards, he has devoted his time and money to making sure he is a part of supporting those less fortunate. He bolsters not only the morale of the children, but his unit as well. He is selfless, dedicated, and committed to upholding the traditions of military public service.
Name: The White Family
Category: Military Service Award – Family
The Whites (Mom Diane, Dad Craig and teen sons Peter and Joel) are loyal members of our BAMC Fisher House(s) volunteer team. Their hard work and dedication are evident as they serve our families with great love, patience and understanding. They are eager to support the mission and constantly take initiative to “get the job done right” by stepping in whenever and wherever needed.
The White Family serves the families that come to Fisher House not by want, but by need — their loved ones have been traumatically injured in battle or otherwise. Knowing this and wanting to do something about it, they are always here with upbeat, positive attitudes. The Whites have chosen to make volunteering a family affair and they give it their all. They collectively see the need and respond to it instinctively. They are a family that embraces residents as they would their own.
Since 2011, Diane White and her therapy dog, Jake, have quickly become a welcome treat on Wednesdays – and Jake is referred to by all as “the mascot.” They even readily serve as “Santa paws and his elves” during the Christmas season. The entire family is hands-on and serves during various doing whatever is required. Oldest son, Peter White, took it upon himself to design and construct a golf cart cover for the Fisher House cart as his Eagle Scout project. He spent over 80 hours of his time (and his money) organizing the entire project from start to finish.
The family’s presence is constant and meaningful. Positivity, encouragement, understanding, empathy and service are the family hallmarks. They live to serve and have collectively given over 500 hours over the course of this past year. Whether it’s a kind ear, a gentle touch, an understanding and empathetic heart, or a healing presence, the Whites are there. They live to serve and do so together. They are “America’s family.”
Name: Warrior and Family Support Center
Category: Military Service Award – Group
The Warrior and Family Support Center serves Wounded Warriors and their families recovering at San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) and without the selfless gift of time and energy of the volunteers, their mission would be impossible to fulfill. Volunteers are kind and understanding and treat each Wounded Warrior with grace and dignity, which allows them to accept their life altering injuries more easily. Their compassion and support also make a huge difference for family members that are often overwhelmed, exhausted and scared.
The Warrior and Family Support (WFSC) Volunteer Corps is made up of 185 active volunteers who volunteered 23,834 hours in 2013 alone. They help man the Center from opening to closing, seven days a week, 365 days a year including all holidays. By being there day after day, the volunteers create an atmosphere of gratitude. Because the Wounded Warriors and families are in residence for extended periods, volunteers develop meaningful relationships with these families. They get to know their stories; they listen to their concerns and their fears, as well as celebrate with them their good news and victories.
Volunteers are the first ones to greet Wounded Warriors when they enter and will drop everything to help a Warrior find something they need or just spend some time with them if they need to talk. They serve meals and help them check out free movies. They teach classes, from jewelry making and painting to guitar lessons and song writing. They maintain over eight acres of serenity gardens and park area that includes a vegetable garden, playground, running track, amphitheater, and walking paths. They are invaluable when it comes to running special events like pool parties, family fun days, Bingo nights, and so much more. They bring in trained therapy dogs to spend time with the Wounded Warriors, bringing with them the nonjudgmental love that only an animal can provide.
The families at the Center leave behind jobs, schools, friends and other support that they would normally have in their hometowns. The volunteers work passionately and doggedly to fill those support roles.
Name: Dustin “Dusty” Elijah Boone Bartlett
Category: Mayor’s Award for Youth – Individual
With all the volunteer efforts Dustin “Dusty” Elijah Boone Bartlett has devoted this last year, it is difficult to believe he is only 15 years old and that this gangly young man who is still trying to get used to his height, maintains a high level of volunteer support for scouting, his church community, and supporting the larger San Antonio community. All the while, he was also dealing with the loss of his father on November 15, 2013.
One of the most valuable gifts his father gave him besides that of life and love was that of service, which is an integral part of this young man’s life. Dusty is not an extreme extrovert or “life of the party” personality but more of an unassuming shy, silent, strong young man ready to help where he sees a need and lead when he is “called.”
As well as supporting Scouting, Bartlett also volunteers at his church in the youth choir, the Angel Tree project, Christmas at First setup committee, Christmas caroling at nursing homes, Christmas Care (building boxes of food for needy and delivering them), and at Vacation Bible School. He has participated in community events such as ITC Asian Festival, Earth Day event, Toys for Tots, and the MS Walk-a-thon. He has volunteered approximately 293 volunteer hours.
As a Scout, Bartlett participated in the Basura Bash for the last 3 years, and the placement of flags for Memorial Day at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery for the last five years. Through the pattern of his volunteer activities, one can see that service is a way of life for Bartlett.
Name: The Winston School
Category: Mayor’s Youth Award – Group
The Winston School San Antonio is a small private school that advocates for those who learn differently. Winston students are generous, considerate, and attuned to the needs of the community.
Although Winston students may experience challenges with academics, they tend to draw strength and confidence from their participation in community projects. The Interact Club offers students opportunities to help people in the community and, in turn, transfers to success for the students.
The Winston School’s Interact Club concentrates its community service efforts in the areas of hunger, literacy, poverty, and environmental issues. In each of the last three years, the club has completed over 70 community service projects and over 3,000 community service hours.
This year, the club has partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association, Communities in Schools, SA Reads, the Down Syndrome Association, Family Service Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and Special Olympics. The club has also volunteered at Habitat for Humanity, Christian Senior Services, and the San Antonio Food Bank. More recently, members of the club managed the phones for the Texas Public Radio membership drive.
Name: Elizabeth Rosenblum
Category: Unsung Hero Award
Along with a friend, Elizabeth Rosenblum started out serving breakfast at the SAMMinistries emergency shelter, until she realized there were other ways for her to be involved. After reading about a running program for the homeless in Philadelphia, Rosenblum started running at a park with eight SAMMinistries residents. Now known as Street2Feet, the running program has grown from 60 shelter residents in the first year to serving over 300 homeless individuals and families. Now an average of 48 runners comes together three mornings a week.
Seeing the need for additional funding for the Street2Feet running program, Elizabeth took the initiative to start a 5K to benefit SAMMinistries. In the first year in 2010, Elizabeth pulled together runners, donors and volunteers to raise $20,000 with 530 registrations. Over the years the participation and support have grown to 862 registrations in 2014. To date, the race has raised over $434,000. While it took a great number of people to make this event possible, it was and is Rosenblum’s vision, dedication, determination and passion that compel others to pitch in and make it a success.
Clients are able to experience benefits such as decreased anxiety, elevated mood, increased energy and confidence, and improved sleep. The running program promotes health, self-discipline, perseverance, goal setting and confidence. Rosenblum recognized that physical activity yielded far more than physical benefits. Her mission for this program combines a passion for running and health with a commitment to promoting a transformation in the lives of the homeless.
In an effort to provide the Street2Feet participants with a wonderful place to train three days a week, Rosenblum spearheaded the push to install a path in Garcia Park. Elizabeth has dedicated her life to serving the homeless. She has not only volunteered but has also created an entire training program and 5K fund raiser. Her dream has become reality and she spends her days spreading the word about SAMMinistries and telling others how they can get involved. Her dedication is unending.
In addition to starting the running program, Rosenblum took one of the Street2Feet participants and has encouraged him to follow a new-found dream. After discovering his interest in the Street2Feet program, Rosenblum created a leadership position for Philip. As he grew healthier and gained even more of an interest in physical health and running, she helped him find an educational program and the funding needed to pursue his Physical Training certification. He has moved from homelessness to fulfillment, which is what Rosenblum envisions for all the participants of the Street2Feet program.
Name: Friends of SA Met
Category: Arts and Culture Award
San Antonio Metropolitan Ballet, a nonprofit youth ballet and modern dance company, celebrates 30 years with the help, the advocacy and time offered by Friends of SA Met to sustain the company’s programs for the community.
The support SA Met company has received includes the hard work of many volunteers who made it a priority to bring the performing arts to young peoples’ lives within and outside of the San Antonio public school system. Friends of SA Met have raised money in a variety of ways that include galas, raffles, boutiques, artwork, golf tournaments, hand-painted pointe shoes, and more. They serve as event coordinators, docents, ushers, seamstresses, prop builders, audio visual technicians, bookkeepers, publicists, graphic artists, cooks, website administrators and more. Over 200,000 plus volunteer hours over 30 years makes the community impact immeasurable.
Through SA Met Ballet’s outreach programs, social service agencies are provided with admission-free tickets to performances. Agencies benefitting include: Boy’s Town, the SAMM Shelter, the Children’s Shelter, Fischer House, Ronald McDonald House, Respite Care, Roy Maas Youth Alternatives, St. Peter St. Joseph’s Children’s Home, Big Brothers Big Sisters, SA Parks and Recreation youth and Medina Children’s Home. This service provides an outlet for those in need as well as those who take care of the ill and military dependents.
During these 30 years, with the Friends of SA Met taking charge of fundraising and production work, SA Met Ballet has given performances to benefit such organizations as the San Antonio Zoo, KLRN-TV, and the Institute of Texan Cultures, Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital, Fiesta Commission, performing with the San Antonio Symphony, ARTS San Antonio/Royal Ballet, The Children’s Chorus of SA and the Youth Orchestra of SA. Collaborations have included partnering with KLRN and the SA Public Library to present live dance for the very young and working with the local Girl Scouts to help them earn their Arts badges. An affordable program to local aspiring dancers, Friends of SA Met helped make all this possible.
Name: San Antonio basiC Ministries
Category: Faith-Based Award – Church
San Antonio basiC Ministries is comprised of A.C.T.S. Brothers and Sisters called to a vision to serve families at SAMMinistries’ Transitional Living and Learning Center (TTLC). As a Christian charitable organization, SA basiC Ministries is distinctive in its values and authentic identity of charity and generosity that are revealed in the early hours of service at SAMMinistries’ TLLC. Generously using their gifts and talents effectively, the ministry prepares and makes available hot meals in the TLLC dining room. The group has been consistently volunteering here for more than a year.
Each week, Monday through Friday at 5 a.m., the ministry gathers to prepare hot breakfast and sack lunches for the residents. As a ministry that grew from serving food to the homeless from the back seat of a car to a group of followers that serve five days a week at TLLC, this ministry possesses an enthusiasm to grow in fellowship and invite others to provide hope, prevent hunger, and build the lives of families.
When most residents are asleep, the SA basiC group of volunteers arrives to prepare a hearty breakfast. The ministry also prepares sack lunches for the families to take to school or work to start their days alert and ready to take on the day. They don’t have to worry about hunger distracting them
In addition to SA basiC Ministries’ dedication to feeding SAMMinistries’ families, they offer support in other ways. They have participated in our Back to School Bash, an event in which SAMMinistries’ children shop for back to school clothes. Their on-going work and positive attitudes demonstrate a true spirit of generosity and compassion for the homeless families who are transitioning to self-sufficiency.
Name: Mike Edwards, Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), Local 154
Category: Labor Award – Individual
Mike Edwards is a 30+-year member of Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Local 154 and has been a delegate to the San Antonio AFL-CIO for over 25 years. During his tenure, Edwards has served on the executive board, volunteered with the scholarship committee, and many other areas where help was needed. During the Workers Memorial Day Edwards volunteered to help set up and tear down. During the Martin Luther King Wreath Laying Ceremony, he is the designated person to present the wreath on behalf of our Central Labor Council.
In 2013, Edwards presented a project recommendation to renovate and finish out an area at the Ridgecrest Apartments for the tenants to utilize as a gathering place for meetings. This recommendation was adopted by the Laborers International District Council and completed. The Ridgecrest Property is owned and operated by the San Antonio Building Trades Housing Trust. Edwards is our “go to guy” for volunteering. He has never refused to help where needed, and calls as he leaves with the words, “call if you need help with anything.” And, if Edwards is helping so is his wife, Lynette. If Edwards is out of town and has committed to any project, Lynette is there to assist. When asked why he volunteers, Mike replied, “I learned from my grandparents who made an impression on me as a child and taught me that nothing will stop you if you want to improve your life and community.”
Name: San Antonio Building Trades Council
Category: Labor Award – Group
For many years the members of the San Antonio Building Construction Trades have worked in our community, building the skyline that is now San Antonio. Many are landmarks: Tower of the Americas, the Alamo Dome, AT&T Center, the Toyota assembly plant; along with schools, colleges, hospitals and hotels. These men and women are skilled craftsmen that have completed their apprenticeship program in their chosen field. They live, work, worship and send their children to school in our community and volunteer their time and talents to our community.
When the Eastside Promise Neighborhood moved to the Ella Austin Community Center property, the building was in need of renovation. At that time a partnership was formed with the San Antonio Building Trades who took on the project. Since then the Building Trades have been called on to help in other areas with Eastside Promise Neighborhood (EPN). While touring the property, the building trades’ members made friends at the Ella Austin Senior Center. Asked if they would create an area for a computer room and being skilled tradesmen (i.e. carpentry, electrical, plumbing, painting), affiliated unions of the Building Trades took on the project. The computer room, along with three additional class rooms, were refurbished in one day. The new computer areas are helping seniors gain computer access and skills while also providing Ella Austin a place for other events and classes.
Name: Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) Board of Directors
Category: Nonprofit Organization – Board of Directors
Children’s Association for Maximum Potential (CAMP) is dedicated to strengthening and inspiring not only those with special needs, but all people who have the privilege to know and care for these individuals. CAMP provides recreational activities that most individuals with special needs don’t have the opportunity in which to participate. CAMP also mentors and coaches teens, young adults and health care volunteers.
The CAMP Board of Directors helps develop, oversee and implement the nonprofit’s strategic plan. The Board as a group participates in regular meetings, as well as additional trainings and strategic planning sessions. They attend special events, program events, and lead and participate in committees developed for special projects or events. On average, each CAMP board member volunteers a minimum of 6-10 hours of service per month, and many devote far more time.
As capital needs of the organization evolved, the board began to realize it could have far greater impact by taking on stronger roles in fundraising and helping to build connections for CAMP in the community. The first product of these expanded roles has resulted in an Aquatic Center that now serves 100 percent of the “CAMPer” population, compared to about 80 percent who were served by the previous pool.
In the last two years, the CAMP Board made a decision to assess itself and to develop practices and expectations so that they could have the most impact on the organization, its mission and those CAMP serves. They developed a recruitment plan that outlined key skill sets needed for any functional and well-rounded board. Finally, they made a commitment to recruit and train members so that each member’s skill sets and talents are being used to their maximum potential. This Board took a long look at itself and said “we can have a bigger impact,” and then took the time-consuming steps to make a plan and carry it through.
This year, CAMP will see the fruition of a new wastewater treatment plant, which will secure the infrastructure needs when the second phase of a capital campaign progresses. Additionally, the Board oversaw the launch a new strategic plan, aggressive in both program expansion and financial growth goals. The diligence of the CAMP Board of Directors significantly advances CAMP to the next level of service to children and adults with special needs.
Name: Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA)
Category: Nonprofit Organization – Volunteer Program
Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA), a 468 member, volunteer-based organization, served 1,541 children last year. These volunteers give back to the community by being a voice for a child in court. The mission of CASA is to recruit, train and supervise court-appointed volunteers who provide constancy for abused and neglected children while advocating for services and placement in safe and permanent homes. The efforts of CASA’s volunteer Advocates help ensure Bexar County’s foster children are receiving the necessary medical, developmental and educational attention they need.
Constancy on cases is maintained by keeping the same volunteer on the case from beginning to end 90 percent of the time. More than ever, the courts are relying on CASA volunteers’ independent and impartial recommendations to speak to the needs and best interests of the child. CASA volunteers are essential because they provide valuable information and insight about each individual child, helping to ensure that they do not “fall through the cracks” or simply become another statistic in the often times generational cycle of abuse.
Through community volunteers, CASA provides critical advocacy and services to vulnerable, at-risk youth, ensuring that their needs and best interests are addressed. No agency provides this unique, critical service in Bexar County. A child with a CASA advocate is half as likely to re-enter foster care, substantially less likely to spend time in long-term foster care, more likely to have a plan for permanency, and more likely to do better in school. They are more likely to score better on several “protective factors”, including sense of acceptance, controls against deviant behavior, models of conventional behavior, positive attitude towards the future, valuing achievement, ability to work with others and to resolve conflicts.
The CASA Volunteers that work closely with the children on Child Protective Services cases are the lifeline of the organization. They commit to an entire year in serving a case with multiple children. The number of hours that were donated last year by dedicated CASA volunteers to improve the lives of abused and neglected children in our community was 25,131.
CASA has a 30-year history and has garnered reputation of good character with the community, the children’s court Judges, and with the numerous agencies they deal with on a daily basis.
Name: Rinaldo Gonzalez
Category: Corporate Award – Individual
Crosspoint assists those who have no other resources to help make them better citizens, thereby increasing our community’s human capital. Rinaldo Gonzalez began serving on the Crosspoint Board of Directors 1990 and has been a board member consistently since then, cycling off for only one year after every six years of service. As a long-time CPA, he has advised the board on financial issues, frequently serving on the Executive Committee as Treasurer or Assistant Treasurer.
Rinaldo has helped shape organizational fiscal policy over his many years of volunteer service. He has helped fellow board members and paid leadership identify potential opportunities and challenges on the horizon. Because of Gonzalez’ approach to volunteer leadership, Crosspoint board meetings are characterized by a sense of camaraderie and purpose.
Coming from Cuba to San Antonio in 1963, Gonzalez brought with him an intense desire to succeed and make a difference in his community. This has served him well in his volunteer service at Crosspoint and on other boards. Because of enduring and extraordinary service to Crosspoint, Gonzalez is also being awarded the agency’s most prestigious award, the Richard E. Goldsmith Award for volunteer leadership.
There have been many volunteer board members at Crosspoint since opening its doors in 1963, but none who have served as long as Gonzalez. This year marks the final year of his first quarter-century of service. In spite of being kept busy with his job and other community service activities, he has stepped up to serve in whatever capacity was needed at Crosspoint. He served as board president from 1997 to 2000 making him the second longest serving president in agency history. Gonzalez also serves on two other boards, Methodist Health Care System and Methodist Healthcare Ministries.
Gonzalez has demonstrated calm, quiet leadership that has set the tone for meetings, even during periods of significant challenge and change. His leadership by example has not only impacted the new board members, but has left all of those in his presence with a sense of what is needed for current and future volunteer leadership positions; that being confidence, competence and compassion.
Name: South Texas Money Management
Category: Corporate Award – Small Business
South Texas Money Management (STMM) provides investment advisory services to individuals, trusts, estates, defined benefit plans, institutions, foundations and endowments. The volunteers from STMM have dedicated their volunteerism to providing opportunities for parents and children in SAMMinistries’ programs to bond as families. Dedicating more than 150 hours, STMM employees planned and hosted a Back to School Carnival, providing a meal for the families, providing child care for the youngest residents while parents attend life skills classes, and by serving on the board of directors. STMM has helped to facilitate family fun activities for clients in multiple SAMMinistries programs
At SAMMinistries, the most important thing for the homeless is to offer hope, and the face of hope is a person who believes in them. When STMM hosted the Back to School Carnival, families were able to forget about all the hardships in their lives for one day. STMM provided face painting, carnival games, a clown, bouncy houses, and carnival food. Smiles never left the faces of the adults or children the entire day. As one mother and her three girls saw all the carnival had to offer, she was shocked. This mother saw hope that day. She saw that even though these volunteers didn’t know her personally, they did care about her and her family’s well-being and wanted them to succeed. STMM has made a large commitment to SAMMinistries—a commitment of hope.
Name: San Antonio Marriott Global Reservation Sales & Customer Care Center
Category: Corporate Large Business Award
San Antonio Marriott Global Reservation Sales & Customer Care Center has employees who genuinely care about the community, their guests and their associates. The team has warmly embraced Marriott’s Signature Issues of Shelter and Food, Environment, Readiness for Hotel Careers, Vitality of Children, and Embracing Diversity and Disabilities – all with a commitment to caring.
The San Antonio Marriott Global Reservation Sales & Customer Care Center has a reputation for its spirit to serve. The center was recognized as the #1 top work place in San Antonio, not only for our performance and work environment, but also because of the culture of giving back.
The 675 associates at the San Antonio Marriott Global Reservation Center continually demonstrate that they have big hearts, exceeding their annual charitable fundraising and volunteer goals year after year. Results include: $68,830.33 in fundraising contributions for the workplace giving campaign, Children’s Miracle Network, and the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Charitable donations include over 500 pounds of non-perishable food items donated to the San Antonio Food Bank, 200 holiday gifts for Seton Home, and over 1,000 volunteers/donors providing over 2,000 volunteer hours.
The Center’s raises more money per associate than any other Marriott business unit with fundraising events throughout the year, including bake sales, Easter basket raffle, casual pass sales, and a relay. Associates partner with Seton Home during the Days of Caring Event, Mother’s Day, and holiday gift giving. For 11 years, a team of 10 managers has cycled in the MS 150. They partnered with the VA by participating in employer panels to help disabled veterans and created a partnership with the Fisher House Wounded Warriors project to raise money and give back to those who have been injured in the line of duty.
Associates at the San Antonio Reservation Center continually go above and beyond in both their volunteer hours and in their monetary contributions. The collective benefit to the local community is immeasurable because the good deeds and charitable efforts of many teams go unrecognized. At Marriott, the “Spirit to Serve” is infectious.