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Recognizing Those Who Make a Difference

The world’s most famous awards usually celebrate someone who is the best at what they do. The Olympic medals, for instance, celebrate the world’s best athletes. The Nobel Prizes honor those who’ve made significant contributions to their fields. The Academy Awards are given to the best actors, directors, and producers of that year. And while these awards are undeniably prestigious and those who receive them most assuredly deserve that kind of recognition, there is another segment of honorees that we as a culture cannot afford to overlook—those who make a positive and lasting difference in their community and the world at large.

These “behind the scenes” movers and shakers aren’t often celebrated in the media and oftentimes aren’t well-known outside of their family and friends but that doesn’t diminish the impact their work has had on their community. There are thousands, if not millions, of people actively working to make life better for those around them. Although their names and faces may never grace the cover of a magazine their work is undoubtedly changing the world. And there are several organizations out there working to honor and recognize those who make a real difference every day.

For instance, RootsCamp is a project of the New Organizing Institute, a foundation dedicated to community organizing. RootsCamp is their “unconference” for community organizers and each year they recognize “the most innovative technologies, best-constructed campaigns, and inspiring organizers in the progressive movement.” People can nominate and vote for their own community organizer and explain how that person demonstrates innovation, courage, respect, and leadership. Community organizers often have a dramatic impact on their local community, even if they never get national recognition. President Obama got his start in politics as a community organizer in Chicago so you can see what kind of difference their work can have.

Hundreds of organizations offer a “Volunteer of the Year Award” and is no different. As the governing body for just about every baseball and softball league out there, “…the Little League Volunteer of the Year Award Program was established in 1989 as a vehicle for recognizing the selfless efforts of nearly 1-million volunteers at the grass-roots level of Little League Baseball.” Imagine how different your childhood (or your children’s’) would have been with no summer baseball league; no coaches, no umpires, no volunteers planning and organizing tournaments! One parent can make all the difference in a youth baseball league and The Little League® understands that without these volunteers youth baseball would be a very different game.

The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity created a humanitarian award to “recognize outstanding individuals who dedicate their time to fighting indifference, intolerance and injustice.” The award is a beautiful design that reflects the beliefs of Jewish philosopher Maimonides (1135-1204) who said that the highest form of charity is that which is anonymous. In Judaism, tzedakah boxes are used to collect anonymous donations for the poor. Recipients of the Humanitarian Award receive tzedakah boxes designed to resemble the boxes which were found in synagogues throughout Eastern Europe until the Second World War. This particular humanitarian award is often awarded to more prestigious figures such as Hillary Rodham Clinton and King Juan Carlos of Spain who use their power and public authority to make great changes throughout the world.

We at Bennett Awards salute those who have dedicated their time, energy, and in some cases their lives to making a difference in their community, their country, and the world over!