This is the 2nd year we offered this competition. We strive to focus on the “unsung” heroes and “she-roes,” humble folks who accomplish remarkable deeds because they see the opportunity to help make other individuals, groups or organizations. Obtaining recognition was never their primary motive. On behalf of the St. Louis Minority Advocacy Coalition, the MAC, we hope that the accomplishments of these extraordinary individuals may serve as examples to others, to “pay it forward” and make our communities better places for everyone.
We had 8 nominations and it was extremely difficult to choose award winners. Nominees for “Making a Difference as a Volunteer for a Non-Profit Agency” were: Esther Bowers, Shirley Hamilton, Mary Lenny, Ping Leung and Michael Quinn. The winner of the award for this category was Mary Lenny. At age 93, Mary is quite an inspiration! Since 2005, she has accrued 1,451 hours volunteering for St. Louis County Dept. of Parks, working 4 hour shifts as a Jefferson Barracks Museum attendant and helping with JB fundraising events. Last year she conducted a training session for new volunteers and logged 110 service hours for the first half of 2016.
Nominees for “Making a Difference in a Neighborhood or Community” were Peiyun Huang and Rosie Willis, with Rosie selected for this award. This 71 year young Ville resident developed and coordinated the Fresh Start Community Garden, involving youth and adults in gardening and educational opportunities, plus restorative justice practices for individuals who
have been incarcerated for more than 8 years. Also, active in her church, Rosie volunteers performances as a Master Storyteller. She recently completed a leadership training program to increase her ability to positively impact neighboring communities.
“Making a Difference for an Individual or Small Group” award recipient Elizabeth Njogu was nominated for graciously taking in Hannah, a 75 year old fellow Kenyan refugee who was homeless and penniless after being abandoned by her
family in 2014. Both women live in a small apartment in St. Ann. At age 63, Elizabeth works two jobs to support herself as well as her son and helps Hannah with everything from driving to paying medical bills. Elizabeth’s compassion and encouragement has motivated Hannah to strive towards obtaining US citizenship, a step that will enhance her self-sufficiency and help her contribute to the household income.