2010 Presidential Citizens Medal Recipients
The 2010 Citizens Medal recipients serve as an inspiration to all Americans: A widow who lost her husband on 9/11 and turned her grief into a message of hope for Afghani women whose husbands were lost to the Taliban; a school bus driver who delivers hot meals and coffee to New York City’s homeless and forgotten 365 nights a year; a North Chicago nurse and childcare professional who opened a live-in resource center that has given help and hope to hundreds of pregnant teenagers. They are all powerful reminders of the impact an individual can have on their community and on the world.
Roberta Diaz Brinton has devoted her time and talents to improving science and technology education for Los Angeles students. As Director of the University of Southern California’s Science, Technology and Research (STAR) Program, Brinton has opened the doors of opportunity for thousands of disadvantaged and minority inner-city youth. Brinton receives the Citizens Medal for encouraging America’s next generations to reach for the stars.
When a pregnant teenager with no place to stay arrived at her door, Daisy Brooks welcomed the young woman in. What followed was a lifelong commitment to helping many of North Chicago’s young mothers and their infants. Brooks opened Daisy's Resource and Developmental Center to serve as a dormitory, school, and catalyst for young women to improve their lives. Brooks receives the Citizens Medal for offering guidance and support.
Touched by childhood tragedy, Betty Chinn brings hope to those who have fallen on hard times. Left homeless as a child in China, Chinn became mute. When she came to America, she found both her voice and her mission: aiding those without shelter on our own shores. Today, Chinn provides meals twice a day as expressions of gratitude to a welcoming nation. Chinn receives the Citizens Medal for renewing America’s promise by serving those in need.
Cynthia Church turned a personal battle with cancer into a force for progress and change. Dismayed by the lack of resources for women of color with breast cancer, Church founded Sisters on a Mission, Inc, an African-American breast cancer support network in Delaware. Church receives the Citizens Medal for confronting the scourge of this terrible disease and working to halt its spread.
Susan Retik Ger understands the importance of empowering women touched by personal tragedy. After losing her husband on September 11, 2001, she found cause in educating and training Afghan widows and their children. Her strength of spirit has healed hearts and fostered mutual understanding. Retik Ger receives the Citizens Medal for advancing women’s rights and the power of America’s ideals.
Physical limitations have not hindered Mary K. Hoodhood’s determination to strengthen her community. Though a car accident left her paralyzed, Hoodhood began volunteering to feed the hungry through her local Meals on Wheels program. In 2001, Hoodhood founded Kids’ Food Basket which provides meals to thousands of children in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Hoodhood receives the Citizens Medal for her remarkable efforts.
Parent and advocate, Kimberly McGuiness has been a true champion for deaf students. Her persistent letters, phone calls, and visits to state legislators helped spur the passage of Georgia’s Deaf Child’s Bill of Rights. She has led workshops, counseled parents, and changed lives, raising awareness and support for deaf education. McGuiness receives the Citizens Medal for demonstrating the results one citizen can achieve.
Jorge Muñoz recognizes that we all have a stake in one another. By giving his time, energy, and resources to feeding the hungry, he has demonstrated the enduring American values of sacrifice and kindness. Muñoz receives the Citizens Medal for his service and dedication to creating a more hopeful tomorrow for the less fortunate among us.
Beginning with a wagon full of coffee and sandwiches, Lisa Nigro’s mission to aid those living on the streets of Chicago has inspired us all. Her wagon gave way to a restaurant for homeless men and women, expanding with partner organizations to provide housing, job training, and vital support to Chicagoans affected by poverty. Nigro receives the Citizens Medal for her tireless service to her fellow citizens.
Caring for America’s injured service members, MaryAnn Phillips embodies strength and grace. An American citizen living in Germany, Phillips volunteers with Soldiers Angels at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center . She spends countless hours at the bedsides of our wounded warriors and their families, caring for them, encouraging them, and grieving with them. Phillips receives the Citizens Medal for putting her patriotism into action for our troops and our nation.
Devoted to preserving our nation’s public lands, Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam has inspired thousands of America’s youth to protect our natural bounty. Her vision to offer land restoration and maintenance service opportunities became a reality with the birth of the Student Conservation Association. Putnam receives the Citizens Medal for helping ensure that our nation’s treasured public lands are enjoyed by future generations.
For decades, Myrtle Faye Rumph has lent her talent and compassion to impacting the lives of at-risk youth. Her commitment to reducing gun and gang violence in her community has steered countless young men and women away from dangerous habits, and altered the course of their futures. Rumph receives the Citizens Medal for her tireless efforts to replace violence and despair in her community with a beacon of hope and humanity.
George Weiss, Jr., a veteran of World War II and the United States Marine Corps, reflects our nation’s generous and selfless heart. In 1979, he founded the Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad, which today consists of more than 125 volunteers who have performed final military honors for more than 55,000 deceased veterans. Weiss receives the Citizens Medal for his extraordinary service to our nation’s veterans and their families.
Roberta Diaz Brinton
Los Angeles, CA
Service to one is service to oneself, and our highest aspirations are actually met when we serve and give to others."
Daisy M. Brooks
I think you have to decide what you want out of life and God will give you a vision... I've always enjoyed helping people and when he gave me this vision, I just went for it."
Betty Kwan Chinn
I would encourage anybody, no matter how big or how small, to use to your gifts to benefit somebody less fortunate than you."
Cynthia M. Church
If you're not your own best advocate, then there is nobody else that's going to do it for you… "
Susan Retik Ger
Find your passion. You don't have to try and change the world but you can do a little bit, whatever you can to help in your neighborhood or your community, and even abroad."
Mary K. Hoodhood
Grand Rapids, MI
I do it because it's important to make sure that kids don't go to bed hungry."
Cave Springs, GA
I always stand up for what I believe is right, even if I'm the only one standing."
New York, NY
I always remember one thought that my mother taught me from my childhood. If you share, you’re ok with God."
It doesn't make a difference if it's big or small, as long as the energy of moving forward and doing something good for your community is out there."
Star Valley Ranch, WY
I always feel very uncomfortable with this type of recognition especially when I see the sacrifices that are made by our military members and their families."
Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam
We have been blessed to be living here but with that comes a trust for the future and the trust is that you do something about it."
Myrtle Faye Rumph
You always see people that need help, especially kids because they are the future, the future generation. I feel like everybody that has some time should get involved."
Geo. J. Weiss, Jr.
If you want to volunteer, we'll fix you up. Thirty degrees below zero or 90 degrees above -- we'll fix you up."