- Posted byon September 21, 2012 at 11:47 AM EDT
Josie Grant is being honored as a Champion of Change for her Kiwanis International service.
Here is who I am: just a girl trying to make a difference in the world. Motivated because of my young cousin with Goldenhar Syndrome, I sat down with my mother, at age 13, and developed the idea of my foundation, Josie's Smiles for Pediatrics, in hopes of making pediatric patients SMILE! I began with my own money to purchase items for patients. I continue to contact individuals, and local and national businesses, to encourage them to make donations to the Pediatric Unit and Family Birthplace at Carroll Hospital Center. Through my endeavor, I have coordinated donations of more than $26,000. Through Key Club, my foundation was able to expand to Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, adding $2,000. I hope to add to that total this year, as we work together again to donate more toys and other essentials for pediatric patients and their families.
I have accumulated more than 1,000 community service hours since the summer of 2006. During middle school, I spent two years volunteering at Lorien Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center, helping the elderly. I also helped young children at a local daycare. I have walked for Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in both Maryland and Indiana in honor of my aunt. I have helped out for four years at Maryland Brain Injury Association’s Eat-A-Peach, walked for Leukemia and Lymphoma, and Diabetes, along with many more community service efforts. I devote my free time to making a difference. I live by a quote from Harriet Tubman: “Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”
I have maintained honor roll since elementary school, even while taking accelerated, honors and Advance Placement classes. I was my high school’s Key Club treasurer and president. Now I am a Capital District Division 9 Lieutenant Governor in charge of 15 western Maryland Key Clubs. I have attended Key Club District Convention three years in a row, along with a Key Leader leadership weekend, and a Key Club International convention. I am also an active participant in my school’s science club. Currently, I am class representative for Carroll County Career and Technology Center’s SkillsUSA. I was an active member of S.H.O.U.T. (Students Helping Others while Understanding Themselves) and Culture Club in middle school. In addition, I was a member of my high school freshman basketball team and participated in martial arts training for one year.
Following high school, I plan to attend college and major in nursing to become a neonatal nurse, hoping to work in a stage 5 NICU, becoming just a woman trying to make a difference in the world—starting from the very first minutes of babies’ lives.
Josie Grant is a high school senior, and the current Capital District Division 9 Lieutenant Governor for Key Club International, the Kiwanis International program for high school students
- Posted byon September 21, 2012 at 11:28 AM EDT
William Beard is being honored as a Champion of Change for his Kiwanis International service.
For a long time, I’ve been committed to helping make positive change in my community of Frankfort, Indiana—and having an impact beyond my community whenever possible. I’m cofounder of Beard Industries, which grew into a leading global distributor of grain dryers. I retired in 2002, but the past 10 years have kept me busy. In fact, they have been a chance to give more of my time to the causes and organizations that mean a lot to me and my wife, Jean.
Both before and after my retirement, for instance, my membership in the Frankfort Kiwanis Club has given me a way to serve children locally and throughout the world. I’ve been a Kiwanian since 1966, and I’ve served as my club’s president. Being a club member has given me a chance to be a part of the service projects and fundraising that allow all of us in the club to improve kids’ lives in our area. But we’ve also served kids even beyond Frankfort. When Kiwanis International formed a partnership with UNICEF in the ‘90s to virtually eliminate iodine deficiency disorders, I was proud to lead our club’s involvement. As a result, we raised $1,000 per member to ensure thousands of children half a world away would have iodized salt, which is a key factor in preventing mental disability.
Now we’re supporting the current Kiwanis-UNICEF partnership, The Eliminate Project. I’m thrilled that my club leadership and my donations to the campaign are saving and protecting mothers and babies from tetanus in more than 20 countries.
Making a difference close to home is still important. For example, I’ve been a county commissioner in Clinton County since 2004. Some of the biggest achievements during my time in office include a major improvement of the county’s emergency medical service and my involvement in a $6 million sewer and water project for the town of Jefferson and a $2.8 million storm-water retention facility to eliminate flooding in Frankfort. I was also proud to play a key role in bringing the first YMCA to Clinton County, leading a campaign to raise $4 million for the project. In fact, my wife Jean and I have been lead donors for YMCA building campaigns in Frankfort and Lebanon.
I’m also proud to be among the founders of the Clinton County Community Foundation and made significant contributions to the foundation. We have also contributed to a fund in the Christian Church Foundation, and we’re both active members of First Christian Church and have served as deacons and elders.
All together, it’s been a pleasure to take my own successes and opportunities and make them avenues for helping others—at home and around the world. I’m honored to receive the Champions of Change award.
William Beard is the retired cofounder of Beard Industries, a global distributor of grain dryers, and member of Kiwanis Club of Frankfort, Indiana
- Posted byon September 21, 2012 at 10:48 AM EDT
On Wednesday, the Vice President and Dr. Biden hosted an “End of Summer BBQ” at the Vice President’s Residence with emerging young leaders of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. They were joined by senior Obama Administration officials, leaders of national LGBT organizations, and campus and community leaders from all over the country.
Guests at the event represented tremendous diversity and talent within the LGBT community. They included students and community organizers, advocates and artists, and veterans – all committed to the pursuit of equality, justice, and dignity for LGBT people.
- Posted byon September 21, 2012 at 1:05 AM EDT
Bradley Blizard is being honored as a Champion of Change for his Kiwanis International service.
As a seventh grader, I was invited to volunteer at the High Point Miracle League, an organization that provides an opportunity for children with mental and physical disabilities to participate in baseball games. Miracle League builds flat fields out of a material that makes it possible for children to run the bases even if they are in wheelchairs or on crutches or walkers. Knowing the joy of baseball myself, I thought this was a fantastic idea.
I spoke with John Gibbs, our advisor for the Kiwanis Builders Club at Jamestown Middle School. I told Mr. Gibbs about the Miracle League and of my interest in volunteering with this unique program. We both agreed that this would be a great opportunity to involve the JMS Builders Club. Mr. Gibbs, a great encourager, said, “Set up a plan, and we’ll go do it!”
I began my research on the Miracle League website. Volunteers can fill a variety of positions like DJ, announcer, scorekeeper or player “buddy.” I created a signup sheet for each position at each of the three games being played on a given Saturday morning. I sent Mr. Gibbs a copy of my spreadsheet, and he asked me to bring the project before the board and make a motion to get it approved. I made a presentation to our board, explaining what the Miracle League was about and how we could help. After my proposal, a unanimous decision was made to get involved.
The project I started three years ago is still in existence today. The JMS Builders Club has adopted the Miracle League project as an annual service project, and has helped more than 100 disabled children each year enjoy the game of baseball. Since this project has been so rewarding and enjoyable for the students in the Jamestown Builders Club, the club has plans this year to support a similar program in Greensboro: the Challenger League, which is sponsored by the ARC of Greensboro.
It’s easy to take for granted the body I use daily, the blessings I have been given and the hardships I haven’t faced. These kids and their families don’t deserve what they go through. It feels so great helping these kids find joy in a game I love. I am so thankful I got the chance to set up an ongoing volunteer opportunity so other Builders Club members can witness a smile on a kid’s face as he or she swings a bat, throws a ball or makes a play.
Now that I am in high school, I am getting my baseball teammates involved. Next season I hope to recruit players from all our area high schools to volunteer. Hey, take me out to the ballpark—the chance to volunteer and have fun never ends!
Bradley Blizard is a high school sophomore at Ragsdale High School in Jamestown, North Carolina, and member of the Ragsdale High School Key Club
- Posted byon September 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM EDT
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to meet with a small group of openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, together with several of their partners and spouses. We celebrated the one year anniversary of the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The servicemembers represented a range of ranks and services. All of them agreed that the most remarkable aspect about their post-repeal service is that, after just one year, serving in the military without DADT feels unremarkable because the transition has been so smooth.
It should come as no surprise to any of us that the men and women of our armed forces have handled the repeal of DADT with the professionalism and class that we have come to expect from the finest fighting force in the world. As a consequence, our national security has been strengthened.
As the President said in a statement issued today, “Gay and lesbian Americans now no longer need to hide who they love in order to serve the country they love. It is a testament to the professionalism of our men and women in uniform that this change was implemented in an orderly manner, preserving unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness.”
- Posted byon September 20, 2012 at 3:49 PM EDT
Sheena Curley is being honored as a Champion of Change for her service to Kiwanis International.
For me, I knew at a very young age that I would follow a ministry of working with children and becoming a teacher. We can only change the world by helping our children grow in God’s love and a world where people care. I am so honored to be chosen as a White House Champion of Change. It shows the world that people can make a big difference in the life of a child.
For the past twenty years, I have given my vacation time to work with a program near and dear to my heart: the Knoxville Kiwanis Fresh Air Camp. In 1922, Knoxville Kiwanis President Charles Rutherford attended the Kiwanis International convention in Toronto, Canada. He returned with an idea of providing a fresh-air camp for underprivileged children. Since that time, the Knoxville Club’s signature project has been the Fresh Air Camp, which is recognized as one of the most successful in Kiwanis International. Overnight camp sessions run for four weeks for ages seven to twelve, with an additional two weeks of day camp for children with disabilities. No children or families are charged. All fees are raised by the Knoxville Kiwanis Club through donations of members and friends in the community. Camp operations run close to $40,000 dollars each summer to serve the 150 children who attend the camp sessions.
I have now been the director of the Fresh Air Camp for 20 years. It is such a joy to see that underprivileged, "at-risk" and disabled children have a wonderful summer camp experience. We award 150 children the one-week scholarships to the camp, and I work with several social agencies and school systems to select girls and boys who would benefit from the camping experience. The Kiwanis Club of Knoxville has been able to provide two one-week sessions at camp for children with disabilities through a partnership with East Tennessee Children's Rehabilitation Center, Children's Hospital, and the University of Tennessee.
The children enjoy lots of recreational activities, including swimming, kickball, volleyball, basketball, hiking, arts and crafts and board games. Most cherished is the swimming! One of the goals of the camp is to improve the health, nutrition and social skills of the children. More than 34,000 underprivileged children have attended the Fresh Air Camp over the past 91 years. I am so thankful for the 130 volunteers who give their time each year—club members, area churches, Key Clubs and private and public schools—to assist with serving the youth.
I started working toward my goal of helping children by attending the University of Maine at Farmington, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. I soon began working in the public schools in Quincy, Massachusetts, and ended up in lots of special needs classrooms. I went back to college to further my education and attended Lesley College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for a Master of Science in Education in the area of Special Education. Simultaneously, I began teaching children in Sunday school as well as various other classes within my church and have continued this ministry since 1968.
After leaving the public school system, I began employment with nonprofit organizations that help children with special needs. Upon my husband Bill’s retirement from the U.S. Navy, we moved to Tennessee. I soon began a 19-year career of working with women and children in an addiction program called Great Starts of Knoxville.
At Great Starts, I worked directly with drug-addicted newborns as lead teacher in the infant room, and I became the nursery director three years later. I held this position until 2005 and then became a parent support supervisor, working with the mothers. During this time, I taught basic parenting as a volunteer at the Board of Probation and Parole. For the past three years and until May 2012, I worked as a case manager.
I have spent my entire adult life contributing to numerous clubs and organizations that share my belief in following God’s plan for helping children grow to their fullest, and I am deeply humbled to be recognized for this service.
Sheena Curley is the Director of the Kiwanis Fresh Air Camp in Knoxville, Tennessee
- Posted byon September 20, 2012 at 3:16 PM EDT
Sanford Tollette is being honored as a Champion of Change for his Kiwanis International service.
I am so humbled by this award. At the age of 60, I’ve had some “woe is me” moments of feeling underappreciated at times for the life of service I have led. This unexpected award is an amazing gift, but it is one that I share with my wife and family and with my “family in service” to the underprivileged and at-risk youth of Central Arkansas.
Reflecting on my life as a child of the South, born in the bed of my family’s home in 1951 in Hope, Arkansas (on the other side of the tracks before Hope became famous), I never thought I would achieve anything other than survival, let alone any awards for my work. I moved from segregated schools in the South to integration at Central High School and then on to the University of Arkansas, where I graduated with my BSE in Early Childhood Education and a minor in science.
After teaching in the Little Rock and Pulaski County Public Schools for eight years, I began to think creatively about how to make a difference in the lives of students who, I noticed on a regular basis, were not achieving their full potential. Little did I know that after meeting with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1977, the idea of an innovative concept targeting problem children that we call “youth at risk” would be funded. The program has produced significant positive results and has become a part of a national movement for defining children and families with challenges. In 1988 at the Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp, we started the Alternative Classroom Experience—a 30-day residential, educational wilderness program for elementary students who are experiencing academic and social challenges. The program is now in its 24th year.
Blessed by the heritage of my parents and the inspiration of my teachers and those individuals who taught me to believe in myself and to make a difference, I became the first African-American drum major of the University of Arkansas and the Southwest Conference; the first African-American chairman of the AmeriCorps Commission in Arkansas and was instrumental in the development of their early programs; and the first African-American executive camp director of Joseph Pfeifer Kiwanis Camp. While I make the statement about being African-American, the main point I want to make is that I work to be the best American at my craft, thinking only about how to provide and deliver opportunities for those individuals who have found themselves in less fortunate circumstances. Never in my wildest dreams as a teacher, environmental educator and camp director, did I ever think that my work would give me the opportunity to be at our nation’s Capitol.
Sanford Tollette transformed a summer camp for underprivileged kids, expanding it into a year-round program called the Alternative Classroom Experience. Sanford is a longtime member of the Kiwanis Club of Downtown Little Rock, Arkansas, and a donor to the Kiwanis International Foundation
- Posted byon September 20, 2012 at 3:01 PM EDT
Sanjuana Zavala is being honored as a Champion of Change for her Kiwanis International service.
Since I was little, my parents instilled in me the desire to help others, pursue my passion and have the courage to follow my dreams. My parents, both from Mexico, have no education here in the United States and know very little English. I learned from my mother that love and helping others has no language, racial or social-economic barriers. When I was growing up, my mom would create five to six Thanksgiving baskets with all the ingredients needed to make a Thanksgiving meal. We would then take the baskets to Matamoros, Tamaulipas, a 10-minute drive from our home, and give them to families in need. She saved up money from her paychecks to give back. She had no time to go and volunteer, but she loved Thanksgiving and wanted everyone to have a Thanksgiving meal.
I was raised, educated and still live in the low-income community of Southmost in Brownsville, Texas, but this hasn't limited my ability to serve. It is because of this vibrant, Hispanic-rich community and my supporting family that I devote part of my day to service. My commitment and passion for service has led me to meet extraordinary individuals who I remember every single day as I keep on serving my community. It is nothing but an honor to be a White House Champion of Change.
It was not until I joined Circle K International that my passion for service was lit. Before Kiwanis, I attended city-wide service projects but had no organization to affiliate myself with. I was just a high school student helping out on a Saturday morning. When I met CKI members at my freshmen orientation, I soon felt like I was a part of something. It was not until I became a club officer that I realized just how big the CKI organization and the Kiwanis family are. After attending my first district convention, I felt invincible. I had finally met a group of individuals who felt the same way about service. Those individuals became many of my best friends.
For the past year, in conjunction with Keep Brownsville Beautiful and UT-Brownsville CKI Club, the Crayon Recycling Project has flourished to new heights. More than 100 hours were served by CKI members and fellow high school volunteers for the CRP. These long hours of service created new and ready-to-use crayons that were molded into stars, soccer balls, planets, letters of the alphabet and many more fun shapes! What I loved most about the CRP was seeing the faces of kindergarten children when I told them the impact they made when they donated their old and broken crayons to be recycled. After helping out on this project, these little ones wanted to do more; they wanted to reach out and help. That’s when many of them, for the first time, heard the words community service and serving others.
That’s what keeps me serving every day, and that’s what energizes me to wake up early Saturday morning for service projects—the impact of change. Nothing transcends faster than one’s passion. I hope by sharing my passion for service with the children and other people I meet, I get to change their perception about community service. I plan to stay in the Kiwanis family after graduation and serve as a Kiwanian. I would like to become an advisor to a CKI Club or even a Key Club. I can’t wait for what the future holds for me!
Sanjuana Zavala is a first-generation college student at the University of Texas- Brownsville, and supporter of The Eliminate Project, a partnership between Kiwanis International and UNICEF to eliminate maternal and neonatal tetanus from the face of the Earth