2012 Be the Difference Award Winners

Frank Smith has been on the construction crew for more than 20 houses over the course of 20 years as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Santa Cruz. Currently he is helping to build three town homes in Scotts Valley. As a dedicated volunteer, he welcomes and encourages new volunteers. When sharing why he volunteers he said: “At first I thought, I’ve had a great life, time to give back, and then, well its just a great group. We just have a good time.” One of the people he helped into a home said that being in a home made it possible to study and be a good student without noise gangs of his old neighborhood. A habitat home helps families by giving them a hand up and Frank has really done his part in making a difference in their lives . View His Story

Char Bridenbaugh has contributed her leadership, service, and knowledge for the last 17 years as the lead trainer of the Literacy Program of the Volunteer Center. She developed the training team and helped create curriculum to train volunteers how to teach English to over 4,000 English as second language students. Char helped develop and participates in the Mentor Team, as well as the GED Preparation and Training Programs that coach new tutors on how to be successful. Besides serving on the Literacy Advisory Committee, she consults with staff and tutors on testing the special needs of learning disabled students. She cares about her Literacy Program family; it’s students, tutors and staff, which make a difference for all of them. In her spare time she also volunteers for Habitat For Humanity. View Her Story

Plantronics employees and leadership understand the needs of our community and have stepped up to help fill the plates of those in need. They have had a long history of supporting the Second Harvest Holiday Food Drive. Over the past15 years, they have donated the equivalent of 3 million pounds of food for local families in need. Through their internal social networking platform employee volunteers have helped out by food sorting, coastal clean-up, walk and run events, math and science tutoring, personal hygiene items for homeless, and delivering food to shut ins though the Meals on Wheels program as well as other programs. Plantronics has a creative group of volunteers always looking for fun, effective and interesting ways to help out in the community. View Their Story

Costa Bella Builders motivates volunteers to support the community by bringing their time, talent, skills, tools and materials to low-income seniors with minor home repairs. Last year Costa Bella Builders had over 30 volunteers serve more than 90 senior households and also recruited other local businesses to donate products, services and materials to help out. They helped seniors stay safely at home and out of hospitals and nursing facilities. In addition their employee volunteers donated their time to provide “dream room” makeovers for children with life-threatening illnesses. The crew designed baseball themed night stands and entertainment center for a 10 year old boy who has been battling cancer for two years. View Their Story

Legacy Men’s Division is a part of a larger organization called Mentor Discover Inspire. The men in Legacy find causes they are passionate about and invite other men to join them in making a difference. Their mission is “To cause greatness by mentoring men to live with excellence and, as mature masculine leaders, create successful careers, families, and communities.” The members of Legacy are constantly involved in community service projects such as maintenance work at Walnut Ave. Women’s Center, schools, parks, the Santa Cruz Homeless Shelter, and helping out at people’s homes with disabilities.


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