Senators Bob Dole and Tom Daschle, co-chairs of the Caring Institute, presented 2015 Caring Awards on Friday in Nashville Tennessee. This year marked the Institute’s 30th year highlighting persons who exemplify selfless service to those in need. “We are honored to celebrate these extraordinary people who have used their lives for the benefit of others,” said Senator Dole.
“These persons honor us by the quality of their lives, so it is highly appropriate that we honor them and hold them up as role models to be emulated by all,” said Senator Daschle.
Five young adult winners, six adult winners, and one International Caring Award recipient were recognized and inducted into the Caring Hall of Fame. All have left a mark by making the world a better place.
International Caring Award Recipient
Preaching the Gospel of Caring
When Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina became pope, he chose to be called after St. Francis of Assisi. The thirteenth-century saint was “the man of poverty,” he said, “the man of peace, the man who loves and protects creation.” The first pope from the developing world has followed in his path by speaking out for peace and social justice worldwide. Pope Francis has expressed a new view of Catholic gay rights and denounced extremists for perverting religion to justify their use of violence. He has called for reconciliation of the Korean peninsula, peace in war-torn Sri Lanka, and an end to conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina. He has apologized for Roman-Catholic complicity in the mistreatment of Native Americans and denounced the persecution of Christians in the Middle East as “a form of genocide that must end.” He has also strived to bring all branches of Christianity together and urged the church to be a “poor church, for the poor.” This moral vision inspires his critique of unfettered profits as “the dung of the devil” and his call to stop corporations from turning “God’s creation, our earth, into a sewer.” Conservative commentators have taken issue with his contention that climate change weighs heaviest on the poor and, his demand that governments redistribute social benefits to the needy. But he responds that focusing on poverty and sacrificing for the poor are at the very “heart of the Gospel,” as St. Francis preached many years ago.
Caring in the Congo
The former NBA star, and native of the Congo, has given his homeland the ultimate assist as head of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to combat illness and disease. He has dreamt of helping others since childhood and fulfilled this goal by creating clinics in the Congo and providing it with medical supplies. He has also played center stage in the fight against polio by boosting vaccination efforts and bringing treatment to victims of the disease. In addition, he has made seven trips to Africa with the Starkey Hearing Foundation and helped fit hearing aids to thousands of children who otherwise would never have heard their mother’s voice. Most impressive of all, he donated $15 million to open the Biamba Maria Mutombo Hospital, the first modern hospital to be built in Kinshasa in over 40 years.
James R. Langevin
Leading Through Caring
Jim Langevin represents a victory of the human spirit. He has always had a passion to serve others. His dream of doing so as a policeman ended in 1980 when a police officer’s gun accidentally discharged, leaving him a quadriplegic. However, the bullet that broke his body didn’t break his spirit. He transcended his injuries, remained positive, and looked for new ways to serve the public. He was elected to the Rhode Island House of Representatives in 1988 and to the U.S. House in 2000 where he has been reelected seven times. There, he has been a champion of the environment, fought to increase funding for medical research, won improvements in the Americans with Disabilities Act, advocated for a strong defense, and co-founded the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus—a role that led to him being honored on CBS 60 Minutes. With equal passion, he has fought to preserve the personal freedoms for all U.S. citizens, especially the aged, infirm, disabled, and dying, to live independently in their own homes avoiding institutionalization. Lauded for his leadership and ability to get things done, Langevin’s secret is his reputation for being the most caring member of Congress.
Treating the Homeless like Family
When Gloria grew up in Barbados, her family always had a good meal on Sunday. That’s the reason she chose Sundays to feed Fort Lauderdale’s homeless as part of her mission, CARE IN ACTION USA. Over the past three years, she and her husband have served over 18,000 meals out of the back of their 1991 Honda Accord. Lewis, who works as a waitress in a deli, buys the food, cooks it in her kitchen, and never skips a Sunday. Sometimes she gets exhausted, and often she’s had to scrimp so the homeless could eat. But she wouldn’t dream of letting them down because she looks on the homeless like her family.
Saving Lives on the Streets
The sights Noah saw as a volunteer for Mother Teresa in Calcutta after high school led him to found Calcutta Kids. He was distressed to watch people die of curable diseases, so he started a mobile clinic that drives around Calcutta providing medical treatment to street children. Realizing their illnesses were the product of poor immune systems and malnutrition, he also launched an initiative to provide pregnant women with nutrition, counseling, and checkups. Noah is evidence-based in all he does and this shows in the results: rising birth rates, falling malnutrition rates, and many saved lives in the area he serves.
Bringing a Bit of Heaven to Queens
Jorge drives a school bus by day but seems to sprout wings at night when he feeds hundreds of the homeless and unemployed. The Angel in Queens, as he is known, began his labor of love after he noticed men huddled near the subway tracks and heard their tales of desperation. Moved by their plight, he began turning up most days with paper bags containing an apple, a biscuit, and something to drink. In time, he began using his own money to buy food and his free time to cook it. Every night he gets in his pick-up truck and drives to Queens, where he has provided nearly 100,000 meals.
Young Adult Honorees
Age 17, Washington
Michael and his volunteers at Hugs for Ghana have collected $75,000 in toys, school supplies, and donations for underprivileged children in Ghana. Michael also gives students a chance to serve others in the U.S. through his program Helping U Grow.
Age 16, California
Lulu throws “philanthro-parties” that have raised nearly $80,000 for schools and clean water projects in developing nations. She shares her ideas online, where she urges young people to be LemonAID Warriors, who put social good into every social gathering.
Age 14, Arizona
Haile helps young people learn to cook and eat better. She has given them a taste for healthy eating by hosting an online cooking show, doing cooking demonstrations, and founding the HAPPY Organization, a health center for underprivileged kids.
Age 18, Utah
Emilee’s love for the aged inspired her to found Utah YOUth Connect, which brings seniors and middle school students together. . She has raised nearly $9,000 to get 15,000 kids involved in visiting retirement homes and showing seniors that someone really cares.
Age 14, New York
Lillian shows her keen sense of vision by giving needy children the gift of sight. As founder of Vision For and From Children, she has enlisted volunteer doctors and raised enough funds to provide eye surgery for 25, 210 children in the U.S. and developing world.
About the Caring Institute
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, who told him there was a poverty of the spirit in the developed world that was much worse than the poverty of the body seen in the developing world. When she directed him to do something about it, he founded an awards program that identifies those who give back to society in outstanding ways and holds them up as role models for all. The Caring Institute is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization and all donations are tax deductible by law.