“She is a true unsung hero that gives and gives and gives without hesitation, without pause to help others”
“…it was difficult to make a lasting difference in our students’ lives without addressing the low academic achievement and multi-generational cycle of poverty”
“He’s an inspirational volunteer who easily connects with everyone he encounters, providing valuable support and encouragement.”
Year after year, we learn about volunteers and organizations stepping out of their comfort zones and stretching to serve needs in their communities when we receive nominations for the $25,000 Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award and the Most Treasured Volunteer Awards.
This year, July 16 is an important day for us and for nonprofit organizations in Greater Cleveland because it’s the day nominations close for these two important awards.
For the Anisfield-Wolf winner, not only does the organization receive a monetary prize, the award can also do wonders to raise awareness for the critical work of community organizations.
Over the years we’ve learned that each award offers something different to its recipient. For the Anisfield-Wolf winner, not only does the organization receive a monetary prize, the award can also do wonders to raise awareness for the critical work of community organizations. We’ve heard again and again that when organizations, their staff and volunteers get this recognition it provides a shot in the arm in terms of self-esteem and energy for folks on the front lines working in the trenches of human services.
We wanted to share a few examples of this from recent award winners who told us what the award has meant to them.
- Rick Kemm, executive director of the May Dugan Center, said receiving the Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award in 2018 was like “receiving an Academy Award.” May Dugan was honored for its Trauma Recovery Center, a partnership with law enforcement, hospitals and other community agencies created to help victims of violent crime that do not fall under the umbrella of rape crisis or domestic violence. Especially notable about the service is the way staff respond to the voices of people who may be afraid or unable to speak for themselves. Without the Trauma Recovery Center, those voices might never be heard, and those crime victims might simply withdraw and be lost.
Without the Trauma Recovery Center, those voices might never be heard, and those crime victims might simply withdraw and be lost.
- Malcolm Burton, founder of 2019 winner My Brother My Sister, noted that his organization uses technology so young people can tell their truth through digital storytelling. “We are one of the only resources in the communities we serve that allow young people to have access to what we provide.” He said the $25,000 award would “strengthen our youth’s access to safe spaces that give a much-needed sense of security, personal development, support and college and technical opportunity all while in a place the youth are encouraged to be themselves.”
- In 2017, Cleveland Kids’ Book Bank received the award for putting books into the hands of the community’s children and opening the door for them to learn, imagine, and begin creating their futures. Executive Director Judy Payne described passionately how their work impacted children and helped deepen the bond between children and their parents. She said the book bank served to strengthen families and help create environments where they can learn together.
- In 2016, EDWINS Leadership & Restaurant Institute was honored for helping people before and after their release from prison learn skills that can be used in the hospitality industry or transferred to other fields. EDWINS went beyond skill development by providing services to help formerly incarcerated adults overcome unique obstacles for those re-entering society and for their families—such as access to basic health care, legal aid, literacy programs, transportation and employment.
- When Care Alliance Health Center won in 2015, Francis Afram-Gyening, then president and CEO, noted that “In Cleveland’s Central neighborhood, 75 percent of families live in poverty, more than a third of the residents are unemployed, and health disparities affect all age groups.” Care Alliance underwent a major expansion of its organizational and clinical infrastructure to meet the primary medical, dental and behavioral health needs of families with a state-of-the-art, LEED Gold Certified Central Neighborhood Clinic. “We are proud to address a neighborhood need in Central and, in the spirit of the Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award, offer outstanding service to the community.”
We are proud to address a neighborhood need in Central and, in the spirit of the Anisfield-Wolf Memorial Award, offer outstanding service to the community.
- Richard Frank, executive director of OhioGuidestone, said in 2014, “We determined a few years ago that it was difficult to make a lasting difference in our students’ lives without addressing the low academic achievement and multi-generational cycle of poverty at the heart of the social problems we treat. So we decided to step outside our traditional comfort zone and dive into the world of education, thereby adding to OhioGuidestone’s 150-year legacy.”
And just as important in the nonprofit world as honoring organizations is recognizing volunteers who give their all as unpaid workers. We have the honor of learning about these amazing volunteers each year as nonprofit staff members sing their praises through nominations. The work that these amazing volunteers do is truly inspiring
She has made an impact on so many young girls’ lives She…teaches about commitment, dedication, friendships, life.
- “I honestly cannot say enough about her,” one nomination form read. “She has made an impact on so many young girls’ lives She…teaches about commitment, dedication, friendships, life. She is instilling so many valuable lifelong lessons, building friendships among these girls for life all while improving the community one girl at a time.”
- Another nomination wrote about a volunteer who is “genuine when he speaks to patients, and he’s honest. He is sensitive to their level of readiness to accept his advice and expertise on navigating their new normal. His positive attitude is contagious. He’s an inspirational volunteer who easily connects with everyone he encounters, providing valuable support and encouragement. His commitment to volunteerism positively impacts patients, staff and the community.”
I am always moved by her commitment to service, her ability to influence others to get involved and to be supportive.
- “She’s a beacon, a servant and a leader. She inspires others to share their time, talent and treasures. We appreciate her ‘can do’ attitude and admire her ability to support others as they begin volunteer service. I am always moved by her commitment to service, her ability to influence others to get involved and to be supportive. I truly believe she is just on the brink of an amazing life journey of helping others through volunteer support, community involvement and career. She is the face of our next generation of servant leaders.”