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. How lucky we are that 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 2014.
Meet Christy- Individual Winner
In 2011 Christy Licker founded Caroline’s Non-Profit Thrift Shop in memory of her daughter Caroline. A child with special needs, Caroline passed away at age 16 due to complications following a surgery. During Caroline’s life, she and Christy received services and support from many organizations. Opening the all volunteer run thrift shop was a way for her to give back to the community. Over the years, Christy and her team have given over $200,000 in grants to local nonprofits working to improve the lives of children. Learn More
Meet Jacob- Individual Winner
Jacob Martinez is a committed advocate for youth in Santa Cruz County. Over the past decade, he has introduced Watsonville teens to technology through after-school engineering and computer classes in the Pajaro Valley School District. Under his leadership, students and programs went on to receive local and national recognition. Despite his successes, he still saw a gap in the number of students and alumni that didn’t have access to computers for their school work and professional lives. Out of this need, “Digital Nest” was born. Located in Watsonville, “Digital Nest” aims to provide a high-tech space for young people ages 12 to 24 to gain marketable technology skills. Jacob is an inspiring leader with a powerful vision to create a better community by bridging the digital divide for youth and young adults in Santa Cruz County. Read More
Meet the Teen Kitchen Project- Non-Profit Winner
Since 2011, the Teen Kitchen Project has provided teens with an opportunity to learn cooking skills while giving back to the community. Chefs and nutritionists help teens learn to cook healthy, nourishing food. The meals are then delivered by adult “Delivery Angels” to individuals and families in crisis due to illness. To date teen chefs have volunteered over 2,600 hours. The Project serves about 40 clients and their families at a time. Many clients are economically disadvantaged, live alone without any support, and do not qualify for other meal programs. The Teen Kitchen Project provides a vital service for families struggling with illness, all while empowering teens and nourishing community. Learn More
Meet the Santa Cruz Warriors - Business Winner
Everyone at the Santa Cruz Warriors- staff, coaches and players do their very best to fulfill the needs of their community. From combating hunger to encouraging a life long love of reading and literacy in elementary and middle school children in the district, they have proven their service to the community on and off the court. In the past year, they have collectively participated in over 200+ community events. Anyone can easily spot Mav’Rik, the Warriors’ turtle mascot, spreading his energy among crowds at community events throughout the year. It is with this same energy that the Warrior’s continue to share resources, build relationships, and give back to our community.
Meet Walnut Avenue Women's Center - Non Profit Winner
Walnut Avenue Women’s Center (WAWC) has served Santa Cruz County for over 80 years. As a family resource center, WAWC’s four core programs include: an Early Education Center, Youth Development services, Domestic Violence services and a Community & Resource Development department that manages a mini-food pantry and donation station to help meet the basic needs of participants in all of it's programs. Every year, the Center trains and supports more than 200 volunteers to give back to the community, learn new skills, and to help the center provide services to thousands of families in the county.