Team Jesse Salutes 2014 Jefferson Award Winners
Regarded as the Nobel Prize for public service, this award honors unsung heroes for their volunteerism and action to make the world a better place. Congratulations to Washington State winners: Patt Copeland, Todd McNeal, Kevin Mincio, Ramon Rivera and James Wilburn Jr. Ms. Patt Copeland - After experiencing partial vision loss, Patt Copeland started Vision Loss Connections, a nonprofit organization that provides affordable access to arts & cultural programs for people who are blind & low vision. She has formed partnerships with the Seattle Arts Museum, the Seattle Public Library, the 5th Avenue Theatre, and others to expand access to artistic, cultural, recreational and sporting activities for individuals in the blind and vision loss community.
Mr. Todd McNeal - When Todd and his wife began doing foster care ten years ago they saw a huge problem when children were initially picked up by Child Protective Services. Caseworkers would pick children up in emergency situations, often in the middle of the night or on weekends. Foster homes could be difficult or impossible to find. Seeing this flawed system compelled him to found Hand in Hand, which is a 72-hour emergency receiving center for children entering in to the foster care system. Caseworkers from as far away as Bellingham and Vancouver bring their kids to Safe Place, located in Everett, to use their facility.
Mr. Kevin Mincio - Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, Kevin left a Wall Street job to join the Army and served a tour of duty in Iraq with Jesse, where they became close friends. In honor of Jesse Williams and other fallen soldiers, Kevin started The Team Jesse Foundation to assist in helping as many families of fallen soldiers as possible by raising money through awareness and events. His vision for the foundation is to offer education and support to these families to help ease their grief and to help memorialize their loved one so that their service and sacrifice are never forgotten.
Mr. Ramon Rivera – As the director of the renowned Mariachi Huenachi program, Ramon inspires kids to stay in school by creating opportunities for them to learn Mariachi, a form of folk music from Mexico, travel and perform regionally, while touring college campuses. He views it as a leadership program for students as a way to inspire their dreams and fuel their thirst for education. This past fall, eight of the students were accepted at Washington State University and for each one of them, they will become the first person in their family to attend college.
Mr. James Wilburn Jr. - James works to promote social justice in Spokane with his collaborations with the Mayor’s office, school districts, and local high schools to eliminate the achievement gap for minority students. He helped develop and expand an intervention specialist position for high schools that mentors and empowers students, and has seen an increase to a 74 percent on-time graduation rate for African-American students. As the volunteer president of the NAACP-Spokane, he has organized free community events to address inequities in the city and hosts a radio show to bring to light topics of race, education, cultural tolerance and civic engagement in the community.
For more information visit Seattle CityClub’s Jefferson Award page.