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 2012.
2012 Be the Difference Award Winners
Meet Frank- Individual Winner
Frank Smith has been on the construction crew for more than 20 houses over the course of 20 years as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity Santa Cruz. Currently he is helping to build three town homes in Scotts Valley. As a dedicated volunteer, he welcomes and encourages new volunteers. Watch his video to learn what has inspired his long-term dedication.
Meet Char- Individual Winner
Char Bridenbaugh has contributed her leadership, service, and knowledge for the last 17 years as the lead trainer of the Literacy Program of the Volunteer Center. She developed the training team and helped create curriculum to train volunteers to teach English. Additionally, Char helped develop and participates in the Mentor Team, and the GED Training Programs that coach new tutors on how to be successful. Her efforts have helped improve the lives of over 4,000 English as second language students.
Meet Plantronics- Business Winner
Plantronics employees and leadership understand the needs of our community and have stepped up to meet the challenge. They have a long history of supporting the Second Harvest Holiday Food Drive and over the past 15 years, they have donated the equivalent of 3 million pounds of food for local families in need. Through their internal social networking platform employee volunteers have helped out with food sorting, the coastal clean-up, walk and run events, math and science tutoring, personal hygiene items for homeless, and delivering food to shut ins though Meals on Wheels. They are a creative group of volunteers always looking for fun, effective and interesting ways to help out in the community.
Meet Costa Bella Builders - Business Winner
While jogging one day, Jeff Thranow owner of Costa Bella saw a senior citizen standing on a ladder on his porch trying to change a light bulb. He thought, "he shouldn't be up there." It was this moment that inspired his first free senior home repair event in 1997. Costa Bella Builders now annually motivates volunteers to support the community by bringing their time, skills, and materials to low-income seniors in need of minor home repairs. Last year Costa Bella Builders recruited over 30 volunteers to repair more 90 senior households in one day of giving. Additionally, he and his employees gave their time to provide “dream room” makeovers for children with life-threatening illnesses.
Meet Legacy Men's Division - Non Profit Winner
Legacy Men's Division is a part of a larger organization called Mentor Discover Inspire. The men in Legacy find causes they are passionate about and invite other men to join them in making a difference. Their mission is “To cause greatness by mentoring men to live with excellence and, as mature masculine leaders, create successful careers, families, and communities.” The members of Legacy are constantly involved in community service projects such as maintenance work at Walnut Ave. Women’s Center, schools, parks, the Santa Cruz Homeless Shelter, and helping out at people’s homes with disabilities.