DonorNation is thrilled to announce the winners of the 2013-14 San Diego School Volunteer of the Year Awards! The award recognizes and celebrates extraordinary school volunteers in San Diego. This year’s outstanding group of 300 nominees came from all corners of San Diego County spanning from North County to the border.
Volunteers were nominated for their tireless efforts in making their neighborhood schools a better place for schoolchildren to learn, grow and thrive. The impact these volunteers have made within their school communities has resulted in the development of enriching after-school programs, additional helping hands in the classroom, new campus beautification projects, the launch of healthy food initiatives, impactful fundraising efforts, and much more. These 300 volunteer nominees collectively donated more than 230,000 hours of community service to local San Diego schools just last year, amounting to more than $2 million in unpaid hours that went toward improving the academic, social and emotional development of San Diego’s youth.
After narrowing the field through public votes, a selection committee comprised of eight judges independently reviewed the top 30 finalists based on specific criteria including: the level of direct impact their volunteer service had on students and the greater community, their exhibition of leadership and recruitment of other volunteers, the length of service or number of hours committed each month, the results achieved and scope of service, the volunteer’s distinct school needs, and their passion, commitment, innovation and creativity in their service. This year’s winners received over $25,000 worth in total prizes, including cash donations to the winning volunteers’ schools from DonorNation and Mission Federal Credit Union, free groceries courtesy of Sprouts Farmers Market, free season tickets to the La Jolla Playhouse, and free family memberships to The New Children’s Museum.
To honor as many school volunteers as possible, DonorNation included a new “People’s Choice” category to this year’s awards in addition to its regular awards and honorable mention category. The People’s Choice Awards honored the three nominees who received the most public votes in each of three categories, which were divided by student population. The award categories include Category 1 for schools with 400 enrolled students or less, Category 2 for schools with 401-750 enrolled students, and Category 3 for schools with more than 750 enrolled students.
This year’s 2014 San Diego School Volunteer of the Year Award winners are:
Grand Prize Winner
Hermelinda Figueroa, Monroe Clark Middle School
Hermelinda Figueroa is a passionate school volunteer who has dedicated her life toward improving the lives of students in the low-income City Heights neighborhood for a whopping 18 years. She provides a bright light to students who may never imagine how much they are capable of achieving by encouraging students to go to college, advocating for inter-generational participation in community and cultural programs, and maximizing parent involvement to provide greater opportunities for all of Monroe Clark Middle School’s students.
Becky Kwock, Rancho Buena Vista High
Becky Kwock is an inspiring example of how devotion and determination can make a tremendous impact in students’ lives. Despite the fact that her last child graduated from the school in 2009, Kwock continues to serve the high school in countless ways. In addition to raising much-needed funds for students in the honors program, Kwock also secured a partnership with a teen outreach program in order to provide nourishment for low-income students at Rancho Buena Vista High and 11 other schools in the district.
Jerry Butkiewicz, Kearny High Construction Tech Academy
Since 2001, Jerry Butkiewicz has been a tirelessly energetic volunteer who embraced his own former struggles in school to connect with students facing adversity. As a mentor and role model for these underserved students, Butkiewicz works countless hours spearheading career programs, organizing field trips, and finding businesses to support real-life experiences to provide students at Kearny High Contraction Tech Academy with a strong foundation for future success.
People's Choice Winners
- Category 1: Duke Kalohelani, Tabernacle Christian Academy
- Category 2: Jose Avila, Joseph Casillas Elementary
- Category 3: Barbara Shortill, Mira Mesa High School
- Betty Dement, San Altos Elementary
- Cathy Monroe, Pershing Middle School
- Lois Kanzius, Bernardo Elementary
- Margarita Haro, San Ysidro High School
- Karen Williams Graham, Major General Raymond Murray High School
The winners of the 2014 School Volunteer of the Year Award were announced during a lively commemorative event at the Irwin M. Jacobs Qualcomm Hall in Sorrento Valley on May 10th, 2014. The awards ceremony included live music from the award-winning high school student choir Chamber Bravura, as well as musical entertainment by highly acclaimed local acoustic artist Gus Mezza. Special guests and speakers at the event included managing director at the La Jolla Playhouse, Michael Rosenberg; keynote speaker founder of Reality Changers, Chris Yanov, vice president and branch manager at Mission Federal Credit Union, Chris Clyde; Sprouts Farmers Market's regional director Dennis Clyde; and DonorNation's founder and CEO Karim Pirani.
For more information about the San Diego School Volunteer of the Year Award, visit www.donornation.org/award.