Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership (CVNL) has announced the recipients of the 28th Annual Heart of Marin Awards. 600 community leaders, volunteers, elected officials, and business members logged into the virtual event on January 7.
“This was the first time we’ve had to convert a very large, in-person event into an online format,” said Linda Jacobs, CEO at CVNL. “It was a difficult decision to make, but we are thrilled with the results. The community truly came together in a virtual space to show appreciation and gratitude for all the nominees and recipients. With contributions of their time, talent, and resources, the individuals and organizations nominated for the Heart of Marin Awards demonstrate repeatedly that Marin is a community of great leaders that do the right thing.”
Tim Myers, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at Bank of Marin, the event’s Presenting Sponsor, had this to say: “The uncertain times we are living in have challenged each of us to step up and do more where we can, to come together for the benefit of our communities. As the presenting sponsor of Heart of Marin, Bank of Marin is grateful that Linda and her team at CVNL continue to ensure that we have the opportunity to honor some of the very special people who have responded to that challenge in support of our Marin nonprofit community.”
2K Games received the Corporate Community Service Award for being a champion for foster children in Marin by engaging their employees in shopping, wrapping, and delivering gifts to Marin County Children and Family Services.
The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to Viviana Garcia of Enriching Lives through Music. This past summer, while Viviana was home from New York University, she created the foundation of a tutoring program for ELM students, recognized that children from the Canal were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and had fewer resources than children from neighboring communities. The program now has over 25 tutors who have conducted over 100 hours of private, tuition-free tutoring in all subjects from basic literacy to physics.
The Excellence in Board Leadership Award was given to Ed Westbrook, Friends of China Camp. Ed is responsible for leading the Board of Directors of Friends of China Camp to make its most important strategic decision ever when in early 2016, the Board voted to abandon its all-volunteer model to become a professional organization.
The Excellence in Innovation Award went to two recipients this year. The first recipient, Agricultural Institute of Marin’s Rollin’ Root, is a mobile farmers market that brings fresh, affordable, locally grown produce and nutrition education directly to low-income seniors where they live.
The second Excellence in Innovation recipient is Jahmeer Reynolds, Executive Director of the Marin County Cooperation Teams. The team provides vulnerable community members with programs and services that address critical and long-term needs in a timely and effective manner by utilizing an organized network of community based organizations in partnership with local, state, and federal agencies.
Youth Volunteer of the Year Award winners included: Natalia Betzler, Love is the Answer (LITA), who performed virtual music performances for seniors in isolation and for her volunteer program Letters of Comfort, where hundreds of volunteers have sent over 1,000 personal letters to assisted living facilities; Lucas Tress, Marin County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit, who participated in every training, mission, and event that his team had – more than 100 separate incidents. With more than 600 hours logged, Lucas has the most hours of any youth member, and more than most of their adult members; Leslye Deleon, Next Generation Scholars, whose project, Minds Over Matter focuses on confronting an mental health issues often overlooked in the LatinX community; David Fox, Learning Enrichment Afterschool Program, a hip-hop dance program for students at Venetia Valley School in San Rafael. His mission is to bring free dance instruction to students who do not have access to dance, whether that be in person or online; and Alex Paloglou, Beyond Differences, who brings awareness to the dangers of social isolation, speaking at public forums, collaborating with fellow Teen Board members on a variety of projects, and being a spokesperson for the Stand Up for Asian American Pacific Islander initiative, to support classmates who were verbally and physically attacked due to negative rhetoric around COVID.
Dr. Mitesh Popat, Chief Medical Officer of Marin Community Clinics, was awarded the Excellence in Leadership Award for expanding the Behavioral Health Department, establishing Community Health Hubs, and creating “COVID Updates” for community partners to keep them informed of the Clinics’ response to the pandemic.
The Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence Award was presented to Performing Stars of Marin, one of the region’s leading youth arts programs transforming the lives of primarily youth-of-color using enrichment programs to build pride, character, discipline, and self-esteem.
Dr. Thomas Peters, President & CEO of Marin Community Foundation, received the Lifetime Achievement Award. When he began his post in 1998, MCF was eleven years old and had a portfolio of close to 200 donors. It distributed $29 million in grants with about $1 billion in assets. Fast forward to 2020, and in excess of $160 million was distributed to scores of nonprofits, schools, health centers and religious organizations. He has supported grants for early education and college scholarships, for medical clinics and affordable homes, for protecting shorelines and teaching art, for extending legal access and convening discussions, for welcoming newcomers and caring for elders, for the researchers and the innovators, for services to those who are struggling, and support to those who are dreaming. His more recent work includes taking action to ensure nonprofits were ready to confront issues around COVID-19, making millions of dollars in grants of general operating expenses to key partners and eliminating all reporting requirements. He collaborated with the County to rapidly distribute support for rental assistance and provided cash aid to low-income workers who tested positive and had to quarantine to cover expenses. He also connected with a local business owner to arrange the importation of 100,000 N-95 masks to distribute to local hospitals, clinics, and community health centers.
All recipients were presented with certificates of recognition from Rep. Jared Huffman, Sen. Mike McGuire, Assembly member Marc Levine, and the Marin County Board of Supervisors. Additionally, winners (except Corporate Community Service) received an award of $5,000 for their nonprofits. The five Youth Volunteers of the Year received $1,000 each.
The Awards were sponsored and presented by CVNL (Achievement in Nonprofit Excellence); Marin Community Foundation (Excellence in Leadership); EO Products (Excellence in Board Leadership); Pacific Gas & Electric Company (Volunteer of the Year); BioMarin (Corporate Community Service); Comerica Bank, (Excellence in Innovation); Redwood Credit Union (Youth Volunteer of the Year); and Kaiser Permanente, San Rafael (Lifetime Achievement). The Marin Independent Journal served as Media Sponsor.
“In the 28 years CVNL has produced this event, we’ve been able to award hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of nonprofits,” said Jacobs. “CVNL is a resource, connection, and voice for the nonprofit community and the challenges we face, and has offices in Marin, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma County. We stand united with our nonprofit stakeholders ready to support them as the pandemic continues into 2021.”