450 Attend This Year’s Be the Difference Awards Gala

450 Attend This Year’s Be the Difference Awards Gala

Awards Gala Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedailiy.comThe Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County and sponsors celebrated the 2018 Be the Difference Awards honoring the individuals, groups, and businesses that transform Santa Cruz County through volunteerism at the Cocoanut Grove Friday Oct 24, 2018.

A sold-out crowd of 450 individuals, community leaders, and business representatives joined in honoring local service champions.

“Everyday at the Volunteer Center we have the fortune of seeing how lives change when people connect through volunteerism. The ‘Be the Difference’ Awards provide the annual opportunity to be inspired by the powerful stories of our local change-makers,” states Volunteer Center Executive Director Karen Delaney.

“This event resonates with so many individuals and as such the number of nominees and event attendees has grown larger each year. This year we hosted our largest crowd ever. We were incredibly inspired by the response and the desire to come together for what works in our community. A love for Santa Cruz County was palpable in the room,” states Delaney.

Awards Gala Times Publishing Group Inc tpgonlinedailiy.comThe 50 honorees come from every corner of Santa Cruz County supporting a myriad of causes. “Our collective of nominees demonstrate that volunteerism and a willingness to giving back are at the heart of what makes our community a vital and vibrant place to live,” states Delaney.

Additionally, at this year’s awards event, the Volunteer Center proudly shared their award as the 2018 California Nonprofit of the Year. Earlier this year the organization was selected by the Office of the Governor and California Volunteers as the 2018 California Non-Profit of the Year for Volunteerism and Service.

“On the heels of our 50th anniversary last year, this was the perfect honor to receive for 2018. It is wonderful testament to the incredible legacy and impact of volunteerism in Santa Cruz County,” states Volunteer Center Executive Director Karen Delaney.

The Volunteer Center was selected among 265,678 registered nonprofits in California for the organization’s outstanding ability to leverage volunteers in service to their organization and for their long-term commitment to the local community.

“Everyday I think how lucky we are to have so many talented people on our team. We are lucky to live in a community where people are kind, generous and committed. We are lucky to have some many stupendous volunteers engage with us. We are lucky that our donors and funding partners believe in our work and are generous with their support. This award belongs to every incredible person, business, and group who have devoted their time to volunteerism in Santa Cruz County and we are proud to share it with our community at the 2018 Be the Difference Awards,” continues Delaney.

2018 Be the Difference Award Winners


Carol Williamson has worked relentlessly for over 10 years as an advocate for mental health treatment and support here in Santa Cruz County. Not only has she served as president of the Santa Cruz County chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, but she has also developed Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for Law Enforcement in Santa Cruz. As a result, this community is now becoming safer for all its citizens.

Carol Miller has been a volunteer at Mountain Parks Foundation (MPF) for over two decades. Carol’s duties include recruiting, training, and managing volunteers who work in the Nature Store at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park that is open 365 days a year and serves over 900,000 visitors annually. Carol has been an active member of the San Lorenzo Valley Rotary Club for over fifteen years, serving as treasurer, secretary, and chairperson.

Michael Allen has given his time, energy, talent, and personal resources to coach the Pleasure Point Surf Club (originally the Shoreline Surf Team) since 2009. With the help of his volunteer coaching team, he is able to take up to 40 students out to surf every Wednesday. Michael goes above and beyond to make sure all safety precautions have been taken through his Surfing Wilderness First Aid Training program. His patient and gentle nature brings even the shyest children out of their shells and into a sense of wonder.


The 60 Plus Senior Program Committee at the Diversity Center consisting of Tom Ellison, Larry Friedman, Francis Garcia, Bev Bishop-York, Doug Urbanus, Anne Forsberg, Joe Eugene, Steve Trujillo, Marc Zammit, Colleen O’Connell Northcutt, David Crain, and Bob Pitman, have collectively given over 5,000 hours in volunteerism over the past 15 years. This unique and driven crew creates a welcoming environment for everyone in attendance and they demonstrate that we can engage in volunteerism at every age.

Camp Erin Santa Cruz recognizes that when grief is left unaddressed in a child’s life after the loss of a loved one, the results often lead to life long emotional challenges. As a branch of Hospice Santa Cruz, this camp aims to help youth develop tools they can use throughout their lives to manage stress, support mental health, deepen their capacity for empathy, and thrive. The camp is a free weekend-long experience for ages 6-17 held at Mount Hermon Ponderosa Camp, a peaceful and rustic setting among Redwoods. Through a combination of traditional camp activities (archery, swimming, arts and crafts, music, etc.) and education/support, the wonderful and creative camp volunteers are able to make a transformative positive impact on the lives of many.


Superior Foods supports children with cancer and their families through their volunteer partnership with Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services. Superior Food employees have been volunteering to help deliver fresh groceries to families in need throughout Santa Cruz, San Benito, South Santa Clara, and Monterey Counties. Every time a Superior Foods’ employee steps through the door of Jacob’s Heart, they wear a smile on their face. Whether it’s Lulu who delivers to Salinas, or Erika who consistently delivers to Watsonville. Without support from volunteers like Superior Foods, Jacob’s Heart would not be able to support food deliveries to 70 families.


To learn more about the awards visit www.scvolunteercenter.org.

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