Most Caring People in America Named, Says Caring Institute

WASHINGTON, Nov. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ – Robert J. Dole, former senator and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Caring Institute, today announced the winners of the 2007 National Caring Awards.
Five remarkable adults and six youths will be honored during the National Caring Awards ceremony at 6:00 p.m. on November 16 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel.
“On behalf of our board of trustees, it is a great honor for us to pay tribute to these extraordinary people who have used their lives for the betterment of others. They are wonderful role models and the very personification of caring,” said Senator Dole.
The Caring Institute’s mission is to promote the values of caring, integrity and public service. It was founded in 1985 by Val J. Halamandaris after a meeting with Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa suggested that there was a poverty of the spirit in the developed world which was much worse than the poverty of the body seen in the third world and asked Halamandaris to do something about it. Mother Teresa suggested identifying people who give back to society in extraordinary ways and holding them up as role models to be identified by others. The Caring Institute is a 501©(3) charitable organization.
2007 National Caring Award Winners
November 2, 2007
The 2007 Annual Caring Award winners include:
Constantin Asavoaie
Founder of Prison Fellowship Romania
Cluj-Napoca, Romania
Constantin Asavoaie feels deeply for needy children because he was once one of them. His father was a violent alcoholic who died when Constantin was seven years old and left the family penniless. Constantin transformed his enduring pain into hope for other neglected children by founding Prison Fellowship Romania in 1993, establishing four special homes that provide a warm, loving environment for children in need. He also helped establish PF’s Day Centre for juvenile delinquents, a Christian Centre for Mothers and Infants, and a shelter for homeless adults, 20 of whom have come directly from prison. With the assistance of Romania’s justice department, he set up the first national probation system in Eastern Europe. In 2003, his fellow countrymen recognized his achievements by naming him Romania’s Man of the Year.
Dominic Avellani
Founder, Community Education Center of the North End
in East Boston, Inc. Boston, MA
Dominic’s dad was an Italian immigrant who dug ditches for a living. One day, father brought him to work and pointed at the contractor’s office. “The only difference between him and me,” he told Dominic, “is education,” – unforgettable words that set Dominic on his life’s path. After working his way through college, he earned two masters degrees and took a job as a counselor in the public schools. Daily interaction with students showed him just how many were falling through the cracks or dropping out, so in 1972, with his own money, he created the East Boston Adult Education Center. It has since provided opportunities for over 40,000 immigrants, refugees, and high school dropouts, many of whom have found rewarding careers. The results of his work are apparent every year when over 3000 students receive diplomas in English, U.S. citizenship, GED studies, IT, and more.
Father Greg Boyle
Founder, Jobs For A Future/Homeboy Industries
Los Angeles, CA
“I work with gang members every day,” Father Boyle once remarked. “These are not monsters. These are human beings with problems. We have always tried more cops and more prisons. The problem is much too complex for such simple solutions.” They needed hope, not jail, so he provided it in 1988 by founding Jobs For A Future. The program gave gang members a future by offering employment referrals, counseling and even free tattoo removal. Boyle then created Homeboy Industries, a venture that includes five businesses staffed by former gang members who produce merchandise with the Homeboy logo, make baked goods and provide home-maintenance services. Together the two agencies underline the truth of Boyle’s favorite motto, “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.” Every month, over 1,000 gang members show up with expertise in fighting and stealing; they leave with new vocational skills and a new-found sense of self-respect.
Rose Espinoza
Founder, Rosie’s Garage
La Habra, CA
Sixteen years ago, Rose asked her husband to move his lawnmower and tools out of their garage so she could use it for a tutoring program to combat gang activity in her humble neighborhood. She had talked with her neighbors and learned that many spoke little English and couldn’t help their children with homework. Somebody had to do something for these kids, so she opened Rosie’s Garage. There wasn’t much in the garage that first time: old wooden tables, a mishmash of plastic chairs, and a stack of used textbooks. Fortunately, word spread about her endeavor, and the community got involved. Since then, Rosie’s Garage has moved to a new location and added three branches, serving 200 children. The students’ test scores have gone up over two grade levels, and La Habra residents have noticed a significant drop in crime. Recently, Rose won a seat on the city council where she can address a wider range of community concerns.
Karin Walser
Founder and Executive Director of Horton’s Kids
Washington, DC
Karin Walser, a former press secretary to a member of Congress, first noticed the plight of Southeast Washington’s children back in 1989. She stopped for gas at a station across the street from a homeless shelter and saw children manning the pumps at 10:30 p.m. Feeling the need to help them, Karin founded Horton’s Kids in 1993, a charity named for the good-hearted elephant that saves the day in two of Dr. Suess’s classic tales. The organization has grown to over 500 volunteers who provide services to the children from the Wellington Housing Project. The volunteers bring children to the House of Representatives and Department of Education where they have tutoring sessions with lobbyists, congressional staffers and other professionals. Horton’s Kids provides trips to museums, parks and the zoo in addition to medical and dental visits, private schooling and food and clothing for those in particular need.
The 2007 Annual Caring Award Young Adult winners include:
Lauren Beeder
Age 16
Los Angeles, California
Founder, Kids CANCERvive
A cancer survivor when she was an infant, Lauren was 10 when she noticed that most people at Ventura Estates Convalescent Care did not have a family to give them company and gifts at Christmas. She decided to fill the gap by making weekly visits to patients in the facility, often accompanied by her little dog. She provides similar comfort to children with cancer, by regularly attending support groups at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles to work with pediatric cancer patients and their families. Lauren then created her nonprofit organization Kids CANCERvive to foster online communication among young cancer patients. So far, she has collected thousands of dollars of donations for the program.
Mollie & Jackie Singer
Age 18
Founders, Diabetic Angels
Las Vegas, Nevada
Mollie was diagnosed with diabetes at age four. When she was nine, she and her twin sister Jackie started a club, the Diabetic Angels, to educate kids about the disease and teach them to help their diabetic friends in an emergency. Coping with the effects of the disease has never stopped Mollie from giving of herself – to promote public understanding of her disease, she co-authored a booklet called The Road to a Cure, appeared in a TV video, made public service announcements, and lobbied the federal government for increased diabetes funding. Each year, Mollie and Jackie organize a walk for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), despite the endless demands of living with the disease.
Davin Singleton
Age 18
Creator, Dreamers: How to Become Your Dreams Workshop
Pasadena, Maryland
After being diagnosed with dyslexia when he was in fifth grade, Davin’s self-esteem plummeted at the thought that he’d never be able to do things like write in script or count to 100. Yet he managed to do them all, and now he’s teaching children the ABCs of self-esteem. He graduated from high school this past spring and decided to help fourth and fifth graders by creating a year-long self-esteem workshop, Dreamers: How to Become Your Dreams. He presented his idea to area schools, and his high school in Pasadena and New Mark of Excellence School in Baltimore accepted the workshop into their curricula. Davin also is participating in community projects against drug use and domestic violence.
Jourdan Urbach
Age 15
Founder, Children Helping Children
New York, New York
After touring a pediatric ICU, Jourdan, a talented violin player, resolved to someday become a neurosurgeon so he could assist children like those he’d seen. In the meantime, he decided to help them through music by creating Children Helping Children, a musical charity foundation which fundraises nationally for pediatric units and medical charity organizations. Under Jourdan’s leadership, CHC began recruiting other young musical prodigies and presenting performances for children in hospitals throughout the New York area. Since then, they have headlined a series of programs at major venues, such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Madison Square Garden. Jourdan has raised an impressive $1.3 million for charities including the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Beth Israel Medical Center.
Emily Wemhoff
Age 18
Founder, Project S.A.F.E.
Creston, Nebraska
Emily launched Project S.A.F.E. (Save A Friend Everyday) to increase fire safety awareness when she was 12 after hearing about a tragic house fire in her community. When she realized the victims did not have a working smoke alarm, she called every listed phone number in her community and asked if they had a working smoke alarm. If they didn’t, she bought them one, using funds she received from a local business. She then wrote to 100 area grade schools asking students to practice an escape plan with their families. Emily organized a Practice Your Escape Plan Day and enlisted several fire departments to help her distribute colored wrist bands to students as a reminder for their families to practice their escape plan that evening. She got more than 18,000 kids to participate by making endless phone calls, designing a billboard, appearing on local media and persuading fast food chains to distribute the wrist bands with their meals.
The Caring Institute operates a museum, the Hall of Fame for Caring Americans, located in what was the first Washington, DC, home of the human rights advocate Frederick Douglass. Caring Award winners are inducted into this Hall of Fame, located three blocks east of the U.S. Capitol, at 320 A Street, NE, Washington, DC.

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