Foundation Beyond Belief is so proud of the many individuals and local groups who made extraordinary contributions to compassionate humanism in 2017. Through our work, we are honored to partner with these individuals and organizations in order to improve the lives of so many communities throughout the world. Our Heart of Humanism awards recognizes some of these dedicated volunteers, and we were so thrilled to announce the 2017 winners in our newsletter a few weeks ago. We're happy to share this news here on our blog now, as we also remind folks that this is your last chance to register for the American Humanist Association Conference in Vegas. Award winners in attendance will be presented with their awards. We'll also have a table set up at the conference, so if you're planning to be there, please come say hello. We'd love to get to know you.
Our Humanism at Work award goes to the team with the most volunteer hours. This year our winner is Austin Humanists at Work with an incredible 5,156 total hours. Their team will receive a grant of $250.00. Our Eat. Sleep. Volunteer. Repeat. award goes to the team with the most events in 2017. This year we're proud to honor STAR, South Texas Atheists for Reason, who had more than double the number of events of the next active team, with an amazing 104 events! This award brings the team a grant of $100.00.
This year's Rookie of the Year award goes to Austin Atheists Helping the Homeless. They may have been new to our Beyond Belief Network, but they came in ready to work. They will receive a grant of $50.00. The Campus All-Star award recognizes an outstanding student team, and this year our winner is the Secular Student Alliance at Ohio State University. These bright students will receive a grant of $100.00.
The Gimme Food and Shelter award, which recognizes the team with outstanding contributions to causes related to homelessness and food insecurity, goes to Minnesota Atheists. Their monthly events include sitting down and eating with the people experiencing homelessness that they are serving. We know they will put their award grant of $100.00 to good use.
Our Best Photo award goes to Long Island Atheists. This photo was taken during their first trail and highway clean up event at their adopted area near Little League of the Islips. They had a great turnout with more volunteers than expected and even got support from others in the area who were playing sports or fishing.
The Backbone Volunteers award goes to the team that played a consistent and reliable role in a local organization. This year our winner is BeOrlando, who hosted a monthly meal serve at SafeHouse of Seminole with monthly themes like Fiesta, Food from the Heart, or Super Spooky Supper. Just a couple days before their scheduled event in September, Hurricane Irma hit Florida and the shelter was in the midst of being evacuated. The shelter didn't have dinner or clean water for their residents, so BeOrlando took them cases of water and pizza. The team will receive a grant of $100.00.
Now that we've acknowledged our team recipients, we are so excited to announce our individual Heart of Humanism awards.
Most Valuable Volunteer, awarded to the most dedicated team member across all BBN teams (as nominated by team leaders) is Jamie del Rosario Martinez of HAPI. Jamie has been a volunteer with HAPI since 2014. His primary involvement began with feeding 200 children in Alabang, Muntinlupa, Philippines each month. He is also active in administrative duties, serving as group Secretary, taking charge of the HAPI merchandise like shirts, hats, scarves, and the book, "From Superstition to Reason" printed in Manila, Philippines. He was an active 'behind the scenes' coordinator of the Asian Humanist Convention in June 2017.
Our Outstanding Leader award recognizes an outstanding Beyond Belief Network team leader, and this year we are proud to award this honor to Victoria Gettman of South Texas Atheists for Reason (STAR). Vicki is the founder and force behind STAR, a group that had so many different service events in 2017 that they won our Eat. Sleep. Volunteer. Repeat. award for most events! STAR hosts a weekly meeting at Lackland Air Force Base as an alternative to mandatory religious services and regularly hosts over 20% of the BMT trainees at their meeting.
The Heart of Humanism, our highest award, for outstanding contributions to compassionate humanism, goes to David Tamayo of Hispanic American Freethinkers (HAFree). As President of HAFree, David (while working a full-time job) coordinated with HAFree groups in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. David communicated closely with them in order to understand their situation and their needs, and then collected donations of water filters, solar ovens and cookers, and much more, and shipped seven containers of desperately needed items which arrived less than two months after Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. David's dedication and contributions have made a huge difference to many people in Puerto Rico, and FBB was proud to designate a $5,000 grant to HAFree in support of their hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.
The Heart of Humanism awards will be presented in person to the awardees who are present at the American Humanist Association's 77th Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV on the weekend of May 18th.
Thank you to all of our outstanding teams and leaders. We can't wait to see what you accomplish this year!