Award Winners 2016

The Be the Difference Awards recognize the people, groups and businesses who make a difference in Santa Cruz County through volunteerism.

Each year we reach out to you to help us determine who should receive honors.

We ask and you answer with extraordinary stories of those who have chosen to transform our community through volunteerism. Check out our winners from 2016.  We are incredibly grateful to Kindlewood Films for creating our videos this year.

2016 Be the Difference Award Winners

Meet Dottie- Individual Winner

For over 11 years, Dottie Jakobsen has been an outstanding volunteer, leader, and advocate for Survivors Healing Center in Santa Cruz, CA. Dottie’s passion, dedication, and amazing energy have helped the organization grow and continue to provide healing opportunities for hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Dottie has had a tremendous impact both behind the scenes, finding and securing numerous grants, as well as on the front lines as a public speaker, advocating for services for survivors and building awareness about child sexual abuse and its prevention. As a survivor herself, Dottie’s courage, tenacity, and deep commitment make her a pillar of support and inspiration for other survivors.

Meet Theresa- Individual Winner

Theresa is the founder and volunteer Executive Director of Salud y Cariño based in Santa Cruz, CA. Since 2013, SyC has opened doors for girls to take action and gain confidence through physical activity and healthy choices to live their best lives now and in the future. At 2 years old, Theresa was in an accident that left her with burns on 70% of her body. Due to her scars, as a teen Theresa was subjected to bullying that impacted her self esteem. Theresa chose to translate this negative experience into motivation for creating a loving space for young people.  She invested her own money to start SyC with the goal to offer girls the opportunity to connect, grow, and feel good about themselves. Theresa now works tirelessly to secure funding for and facilitate SyC’s programs. She is an inspiring role model for young girls.

Meet Jacob's Heart- Non-profit Winner

Jacob’s Heart exists to improve the quality of life for children with cancer by supporting their families in the challenges they face. They provide direct family services which include emotional support and counseling, Camp Heart + Hands, peer mentorship, practical and financial assistance and transportation. We were honored to award Jacob's Heart this year for their incredible work mobilizing volunteers through such programs like Camp Heart + Hands. Camp Heart + Hands is a weekend camp where families of children with cancer can forget about their disease and create bonds with other families enduring pediatric cancer.

Meet Pajaro Valley Shelter  Services - Non-Profit Winner

Each year, women and children come to the Pajaro Valley Shelter in Watonsville, CA seeking refuge and protection. The shelter offers services such as 24 hour emergency shelter services, a transitional housing program and case management for those who do not speak English. They also offer training in finances and skills to help women transition into the workforce. Through the support provided by staff and volunteers, they find empowerment and the chance to lead happy, successful lives for themselves, their families, and their children. We were proud to award this organization for their ability to effectively engage volunteers in their mission.