Be The Difference Awards

Friday October 27, 2017 @ the Cocoanut Grove Ballroom from 11:30 AM- 1PM

Recognizing the Top 50 People, Groups and Businesses who do the most to transform Santa Cruz County through volunteerism.

We asked. YOU answered. Thank you for sharing your extraordinary stories of volunteers who make our community a happier, healthier place to live.

Five outstanding nominees have been selected  and our top 50 volunteer champions will be our honored guests at the 2017 Awards Gala. We invite you to join us in celebration.

Meet our 2016 Award Winners - Videos developed by Kindlewood Films

Meet Dottie- Individual Winner

For over 11 years, Dottie Jakobsen has been an outstanding volunteer, leader, and advocate for Survivors Healing Center. 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 also been an important volunteer for Rising International, a non-profit working to end poverty and sex trafficking in the world. 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 Director of Salud y Cariño.   Motivated by her own struggles with self-esteem and bullying as a young person due to a childhood accident that left her scarred, Theresa decided create a safe space for young girls.  Investing money from her accident, Theresa  started Salud y Cariño with the goal to offer girls the opportunity to connect, grow, and feel good about themselves. Since 2013, She 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. Theresa works tirelessly to  promote, facilitate, and secure funding for the program.

Meet Jacob's Heart- Nonprofit 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.  They have also provided about $228,606 in direct financial services and 2,400 deliveries of gift baskets. Jacob’s Heart started in Santa Cruz County and remains a local, volunteer driven program working hard to provide loving support to the most vulnerable among us.

Meet Pajaro Valley Shelter - Nonprofit Winner

Each year, women and children come to the Pajaro Valley Shelter in  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.


Meet Kohl's - Business  Winner

Kohl’s promotes employee volunteerism through the volunteer program, “Associates in Action,” in which the company encourages associates to positively impact their local communities and youth serving nonprofit organizations. They have done projects with the Boys and Girls Club, the Kiwanis Club, Baymonte School, Okizu Foundation and so many more.  They build personal relationships with organizations and attend events with a positive attitude, a sense of humor, and a readiness to take on any task. For each project they tackle, they give a $500 donation.

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