Award Winners 2017

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 KION  5/46  for creating our videos this year.

2017 Be the Difference Award Winners

Meet Patrice- Individual Winner

Patrice is a volunteer with the Vista Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. She has been volunteering for the past 3 years and as a legally blind individual, she has been a client for over a decade. Patrice has helped the Vista Center establish a growing series of tech user related classes for the blind and helps clients overcome a variety of challenges. Patrice has become so adept at using Apple’s Voiceover program that she has been asked by Apple to provide training to their employees. She has done so as a volunteer and continues to offer such training to all those who request her services.

Meet Keith- Individual Winner

Keith received an outpouring of support for his unyielding commitment to Food Not Bombs. He is known for his upbeat personality, logistic capability, modesty and non-judgemental attitude. Since the 80’s Keith has provided 6 course hot meals each Saturday and Sunday to those in need. Through Keith and the volunteers he has recruited, Food Not Bombs also provides free produce, massage, clothing, and showers. He donates 50-70 hours per week to improve our local environment and community culture.

Meet Fairfax- Individual Winner

Fairfax has been instrumental in bringing to life senior programs at the Volunteer Center over her 25 year history with the Center. She has helped to found several of the senior programs that still exist today. Starting with the Transportation Program, as a veteran volunteer she helps coordinate over 5,000 rides each year for seniors who otherwise would not be able to get out of the house to complete day to day tasks. Additionally, she started File of Life which provides seniors with an easily accessible medical document to list emergency contacts and vital medical information. Finally, she helped to start Helping Hands Senior Home Repair, which provides safety related home repairs for low income senior home owners.

Meet FoodWhat!? - Nonprofit Winner

FoodWhat?! is a youth empowerment organization that runs events and educations programs with a reach of over 1000 youth per year. They partner with local professionals in the food, hospitality, and agricultural fields to train and inspire low income and under-served youth to explore viable career paths. The volunteers engaged through this program directly help hundreds of local students with job preparedness, high school retention, college advancement, personal growth, and better nutrition choices.


Meet NHS Santa Cruz Skateboards - Business  Winner

As the oldest skateboard company in the world NHS supports many local, national, and international groups including the “All Hands on Deck” event benefiting the Santa Cruz Arts Council. NHS also supports their employees in pursuing their own independent community service ideas such as the pop up skate contest and a clothing drive for hurricane victims. As philanthropists, NHS gives 1% of all Fun Factory sales to the local non profit Jacob’s Heart and they have donated over $250,000 worth of skate products to groups like Skate Aid, which gives donated boards to youth in developing countries.