Say Thanks Austin 2021 Featured on KXAN

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Doing good can often go unrecognized but one local nonprofit foundation is making sure those behind the acts do not.

Austin’s RecognizeGood has been shining a spotlight on selfless individuals in the area since 2010, when they held their first #SayThanksAustin campaign. The idea being a “public gratitude forum.”

Instead of just saying thanks, they want to share gratitude with the world — saying thank you publicly to inspire others. In the nonprofits’ eleventh year, 2021, it reached just shy of 100 Central Texans to date — a number members are proud of but one that doesn’t indicate how many good people are out there.

Joel Coffman is RecognizeGood’s executive director. His favorite part is searching for good people and sharing their stories.

That’s where the organization’s Legend Award comes in.

How it works

The RecognizeGood Legend Award focuses on people doing extraordinary things in their ordinary lives for the greater Austin community. Criteria for the award include longevity, volume and impact of service.

The main goal is to raise awareness of the selfless good happening in Central Texas every day and to inspire community participation. At a recognition ceremony, recipients are presented with a $1,000 pay-it-forward donation in their name to a nonprofit organization of their choice.

But 2020 made the ceremonies a little different.

“We used to get 25-30 people, a city official, into a room for something kind of formal,” Coffman said. “With that kind of out the window in 2020, we started meeting up in parking lots, in parks, front steps of buildings and in a much smaller, informal way. The point is still the same: get together and tell this person thank you, show them gratitude for what they’ve done.”

Sparking reciprocation

The #SayThanksAustin campaign runs through Jan. 29.

During the month, award winners try to garner as many “thank you votes” as they can. Whoever receives the most gets a pay-it-forward donation of $10,000 to their nonprofit of choice, to be presented in February. Everyone gets a small donation just for participating, but the main point is deeper than raising money.

“Showing gratitude daily and especially now, getting in the habit of looking for the goodness in the world,” Coffman said. “It really just reminds you that there is good in the world despite all of the challenges we’re having these days. There are people that are truly ‘legendary,’ making an impact and in service to others.”

You can vote daily by tagging @RecognizeGood on social media with your legend’s last name, or via paper ballot, email or text message. More attention to them lends to more attention for their selected nonprofit. Family and friends are welcome to join in on spreading the word.

The hope is to spark reciprocation of doing good.

“I’m 35-years-old. I see examples of what I’d like to be when I grow up in these people all the time. And again, even someone like Mace Massingill — a 13-year-old. I’ve got a 4-year-old daughter and that’s the type of kid I want my kid to grow up to be like and make an impact for others,” Coffman said.

After the closing ceremony, the nine winners are encouraged to become a “Lifelong Legend” — a title that allows them to vote for future nominees over the course of the upcoming year.

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About RecognizeGood

RecognizeGood: THE Foundation (commonly known as simply RecognizeGood) is a local nonprofit that provides a means for individuals, businesses and other nonprofits to illuminate selfless volunteers, charitable acts and community service throughout the greater Austin area. There are several active RecognizeGood programs that work toward this mission from different angles, but the common theme is simple – the illumination of GOOD in our community.