Unique Gratitude Shown to Austin-Area Volunteers: Say Thanks Austin 2022
A local artist created a large format mural depicting some of the most impactful Austin-area volunteers as part of the closing ceremony for local foundation RecognizeGood’s annual gratitude campaign, Say Thanks Austin. The campaign is a yearly initiative designed to rally the community in gratitude for those who go above and beyond to serve others. A capstone to the foundation’s volunteer spotlight program, called RecognizeGood Legends, the Say Thanks Austin campaign received over 85,000 Thank You votes in 2022 via web, email, text, social media and paper ballot. Each year the volunteer receiving the most Thank You votes during the campaign receives a $10,000 pay-it-forward donation to the charity of their choice. The 2022 Say Thanks Austin winners were volunteer duo Briana Murphy and Jacqueline T. Freeman, with their charity of choice Black Women in Business receiving the five-figure donation. The winning duo were the driving force behind providing free groceries to over 65,000 Austinites in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community leaders Bobby Jenkins, Judy Maggio and Leslie Rhode served as guest hosts at the closing ceremony along the scenic Lady Bird Lake, while artist Uly Cueto completed the impressive mural on a large canvas nearby. Due to public health concerns, each honoree and their supporters arrived at staggered times across the afternoon. Each honoree was presented with a donation check of at least $500 to their charity along with a Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Austin, signed by Mayor Steve Adler. The honorees also took a moment to sign their name on the mural as it was being completed.
Other volunteer “Legends” taking part in the campaign included:
- Allen Schroeder – Save The Food
- IMPACT: Food-rescuing champion for Central Texas rescues over 2,595,000 pounds of food through his own organization, Save The Food.
- Ebonie Trice – Mission Accomplished (2nd-most Thank You votes)
- IMPACT: When it comes to serving those in need, there’s one woman who does it all. Ebonie Trice founded Mission Accomplished seven years ago in response to the rise in homelessness in Austin and has now served thousands of neighbors in need.
- Kirsten Voinis – Saint Louise House
- IMPACT: Over the past nine years, Kirsten Voinis has delivered over 43,000 pounds of food to Saint Louise House families.
- Mark and Alyssa Love – The Marbridge Foundation
- IMPACT: Showing lots of their love to the community, Mark and Alyssa Love have made thousands of impacts by volunteer teaching art students with intellectual disabilities through the Marbridge Foundation.
- Florence Ponziano – Florence’s Comfort House
- IMPACT: For over 20 years, Florence Ponziano has been caring for children in the Montopolis neighborhood of Austin through her own programs and shelter, Florence’s Comfort House.
- Gary Walker – The SAFE Alliance
- IMPACT: Gary Walker has been racing toward an end to child abuse since 2005, raising over $550,000 for The SAFE Alliance along the way and training hundreds of people alongside him.
- William Kerby – Kerby’s Clothing Ministry (3rd-most Thank You votes)
- IMPACT: Every Saturday for the past 10 years, William Kerby has distributed hundreds and thousands of pounds of clothing and life’s essentials to those experiencing homelessness in the Austin area through Kerby’s Clothing Ministry.
- Carol Kallendorf-Speer and Jack Speer – The Dream Come True Foundation
- IMPACT: Boasting a 90% success rate and garnering over 25,000 collective volunteer hours from their supporters over 10 years, Carol Kallendorf-Speer and Jack Speer’s impact on formerly impoverished Austinites through the Dream Come True Foundation is enormous.
Since 2010, RecognizeGood has donated over $300,000 to Austin-area charities in gratitude to over 100 local volunteers. RecognizeGood is an Austin-based 501(c)3 nonprofit that provides the means for anyone to illuminate, connect with and learn from great examples of goodness. Since its inspiration in 2007, RecognizeGood has grown to include a variety of unique programs ranging from celebration to education, but the root remains the same – illuminating the GOOD in our community.