SACRAMENTO (Oct. 15, 2014) –- People and organizations who have made a positive difference in our regional community were honored this evening as Community Link Capital Region presented its 26th annual People Helping People Awards and celebrated the 75th anniversary of its founding.
With the Aerospace Museum of California as the backdrop and several hundred guests in attendance, Community Link’s “Soaring Salute to the Region’s Volunteers” paid tribute to eight individuals and organizations and also honored a long-time former board member by naming one of the awards for him.
Henry Wirz, CEO of SAFE Credit Union, was named the first recipient of the Maynard Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award, which honors an individual who has been a leadership-level volunteer in our regional community for at least 20 years. And Nelson, who served on the board of Community Link from 1959 to 1965 (when it was known as the Community Welfare Council), was instrumental in bringing the Kings to Sacramento when he chaired the Metro Chamber board and at 92 still teaches ground school to student pilots as a volunteer at the Museum, was on hand to help present the award to Wirz.
A leader in the regional community for more than 30 years and currently chair of the Sacramento Region Community Foundation board, Wirz has served on and/or chaired numerous other boards including NextEd, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management, the UC Davis Foundation, the Los Rios Chancellor’s Circle, City Year, the Aerospace Museum of California and the Metro Chamber. Married to an elementary school teacher, Wirz has kept SAFE actively involved in education. The organization funds scholarships through the Sacramento County Academic Decathlon as well as its own scholarship program. Earlier this year, Wirz was honored by the Salvation Army for his philanthropic efforts and in 2013 was honored by the College of Education at California State University-Sacramento.
Other award winners included:
The Sacramento Bee Exceptional Community Support Award (honoring a business or organization with a long history of outstanding support for community initiatives, projects and charities): SMUD. Since its founding in 1946 SMUD has been very active in the community and last year alone, 85% of its 2,200 employees worked on at least one volunteer project—donating more than 20,000 hours and 450 hours to 250 nonprofits.
The SAFE Credit Union HandsOn Superior California Award (honoring a business or organization that has supported an exceptional employee group volunteer project in the past year): Kaiser Permanente. Last January, more than 200 Kaiser employees from all levels of the organization engaged in six different volunteer projects around the region on Martin Luther King, Jr, Day of Caring.
The SMUD S.T.E.M. Leadership Award (this new award honors an individual for exceptional community volunteer service in the area of science technology, engineering and/or mathematics education): Mark Graham, Aerojet Rocketdyne, who over the past 28 years has made more than 4,000 aerospace science presentations to kids in schools around the region—on his own time.
Executive Leadership Award (honoring a corporate executive, business owner or high-level management leader who models exemplary corporate social responsibility for employees, peers and the community at large): Garry Maisel, Western Health Advantage CEO, who “walks the talk.” He currently serves on/chairs eight different community-based boards.
Unsung Hero Award (honoring an individual volunteer who has performed a special deed or project not previously recognized): Deborah Meltvedt, 916 Ink. Her innovative after-school creative writing program at Arthur A. Benjamin Health Professions High School has resulted in more than 800 students having material published since the program began in 2011.
Youth Volunteer Award (honoring an individual volunteer under the age of 21 who has performed a special deed or project): Nicholas Wilson, Safety Center of California. A junior at McClatchy High School, Nick has been a member of the Safety Center board for two years and not only volunteers time at Safetyville but also helps write grant proposals for the Center.
People’s Choice Award (honoring an exceptional nonprofit or service organization that embodies the spirit of the People Helping People Awards in its work to improve the quality of life in the region): Active 20-30 International. Chosen through an online voting process using Facebook, the two local chapters combined to out-poll three other organization. The two clubs (#1 and #1032) raise thousands of dollars annually for dozens of local nonprofits ranging from Big Brothers-Big Sisters to Sacramento Children’s Home.
Community Link is a 75-year-old nonprofit organization founded in 1939 to identify and address gaps in human services. Today the organization serves a six-county region through its Collaborative Solutions, 2-1-1 Sacramento and Regional Center for Volunteerism/HandsOn Superior California programs.