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 make their moments meaningful and transform our community through volunteerism. Check out our winners from 2013.
Meet Justine- Individual Winner
Justine Dice is not only a stellar academic student at Soquel High School, but she also goes the extra mile for her school, community and environment. She is the president of the school Environment Club, has facilitated Bike to School day and is an active volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. She helped institute hydration stations to eliminate plastic water bottles on school campuses and inspired several local elementary schools to do so as well. For the past two years, she has initiated Locker Clean Out Day, mobilizing a team of students to sort through materials left behind in lockers at the end of the school year for recycling, reuse, and redistribution. From organizing weekly after school campus and neighborhood clean ups to serving as the student representative for the local commission of Prevention of Violence Against Women, the limited number of hours in a day is her only barrier.
Meet Roy- Individual Winner
Roy Vigliecca is truly the quintessential volunteer, quietly donating his time and energy to whatever program he feels passionate about and going the extra mile to serve seniors in our community. He serves our community through the Senior Center & Senior Outreach, several religious congregations, Grey Bears, and I-U Ventures. Not only is Roy a valued and knowledgeable peer-counselor, Roy is the "go-to" person for whatever the program needs--whether that is additional volunteer work, setting up chairs for a meeting, taking an extra client when the need is the greatest, or mentoring another peer-counselor. Roy's tenacity for personally locating needy seniors, ascertaining their needs, and then tailoring his assistance to meet these needs, makes him shine.
Meet the Tattoo Removal Program- Group Winner
The Tattoo Removal Program consists of nine committed volunteer physicians who, for the past 15 years, have given their time and expertise to over 300 individuals who have made a decision to turn their lives around. To be eligible for the program, the person committed to having their tattoos removed is required to complete 20 hours of community service. As a result of this work, hundreds of people have been given a chance at better employment and increased self-esteem. None of these changes would be possible without the help of these nine selfless physicians, some of whom have a full medical practice. All nine doctors see their involvement in this program as their contribution to making a difference in our community.
Meet New Leaf - Business Winner
New Leaf Community Markets (NLCM) are actively engaged in the community by giving to those in need and supporting the efforts of those who make our community a better place. NLCM strongly believes in both donating dollars to support its community and encouraging employees to volunteer. They promote employee volunteering by providing paid time to work for a community organization of their choice. Employee volunteer projects include the "Adopt a Beach Program", supporting local cancer research though "Gourmet Grazing on the Green" and contributing to youth empowerment and nutrition education. NLCM has a long history of community involvement behind their company philosophy.
Meet Santa Cruz County Bank - Business Winner
Santa Cruz County Bank (SCCB) has encouraged its employees to take an active role in giving back to the community since its inception in 2004. Employees are allowed 40 hours per year, paid time off, to volunteer in the community. Bank employees have formed bowling teams for Bowl for Kids' Sake, donated Saturdays to help build townhomes with Habitat for Humanity, helped raise 25% of all the money collected for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, collected school supplies for United Way's Stuff the Bus Campaign, walked in the Human Race Walkathon & Fun Run and participate every year in the Second Harvest Food Bank Holiday food drive, just to name a few. Additionally, many of their employees and Directors serve on the Boards and Committees.
Special Recognition of Karen Delaney
In 2013, we additionally honored Volunteer Center Executive Director Karen Delaney for 30 years of service with our organization. Karen has worked tirelessly to move our organization forward and she truly embodies our ability to be the difference through service. She is a true visionary with a gift for motivating others. Due to her passion for community development and the local service movement we now have a home for all things volunteer related.