Senators Carper and Coons honor Delaware recipients of the Jefferson Awards for Public Service

Award is based on a simple idea: One person can make a difference

WASHINGTON – Ahead of Tuesday evening’s National Jefferson Awards ceremony, Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons (both D-Del.) met with the Delaware recipients of the 2011 Jefferson Awards for Public Service this afternoon in the Capitol Visitors Center in Washington.

“Delawareans should be proud to have such outstanding winners representing our state for this year’s Jefferson Awards for Public Service,” Senator Carper said. “Service to others is one of the greatest gifts a person can give, and this year’s winners have served our state and nation well. They represent the very best of our community and join the ranks of some of our nation’s finest volunteers. I’d like to thank each of them for the selfless work that they do to make our community and society a better place.”

“This year’s recipients show what we mean when we say that Delaware is a ‘state of neighbors,’” Senator Coons said. “They are committed to building our communities, whether by assisting the elderly, volunteering at hospitals, or organizing fundraisers. It was a joy meeting these inspiring Delawareans and I want to thank them for their devotion to service. I hope the Jefferson Awards for Public Service will inspire even more Delawareans to give back to our great state.”

The recipients of the 2011 Jefferson Awards from the state level in Delaware are as follows:

  • Sarah LaFave, who graduated from the University of Delaware in May – Losing her mother to breast cancer when she was only 14 years old, Sarah embarked on a mission to continue her mother’s quest for helping others. In the spring of 2009, while a nursing student at the University of Delaware, Sarah formed the group Lori’s Hands, named after her mother. The group is comprised of about a dozen fellow nursing students who reach out to provide basic help to those in need in the community. Lori’s Hands provides basic services such as grocery shopping, yard work, pet care, and household chores to the elderly and those with chronic illnesses who find it difficult to perform these duties on their own. Sarah’s focus is to establish chapters of Lori’s Hands in colleges and universities throughout the country.  
  • Sue Sokira, of Wilmington – As the 2011 winner of the Christiana Care Jefferson Award for Outstanding Community Service, Sue Sokira embodies the spirit of the Awards. When not at work as a transfer center representative in the Emergent Transport Access Center at Christiana Care, Sue works as a firefighter and EMT. Sue also raises money each year for the March of Dimes and for several 5K races, including the Tunnel to Towers run in memory of a New York City firefighter. During the holidays, she adopts a family and raises funds for supplies for our men and women in the military. And, if that isn’t enough, she convinced the Cranston Heights Fire Company to donate a used vehicle to a local family in need.   
  • Students from Padua Academy in Wilmington – Padua Academy’s Jefferson Awards Students in Action Team is recognized this year because of their commitment to engaging the student body in the school mission, which challenges students to dedicate their lives to leadership and service. The team made innovative improvements to the school’s service promotion and recognition programs. This year, the team expanded from a club to a multi-age Jefferson Awards homeroom providing opportunities for them to consult and collaborate on service projects. A monthly school assembly recognizes those who demonstrate extraordinary service; the school also initiated numerous service projects, raising awareness and money for domestic and international organizations, as well as their own school. Proceeds from this year’s “Zumbathon,” which attracted 400 participants, will provide scholarships for students who demonstrate extraordinary service.

Created in 1972 by the American Institute for Public Service, a Jefferson Award for Public Service is frequently called a “Nobel Prize for community and public service.” The award’s mission is to, “recognize, inspire and activate volunteerism and public service in communities, workplaces and schools across America.”

The Institute is holding its annual National Jefferson Awards ceremony on Tuesday night, honoring each of the recipients at the local level and announcing the 15 national award recipients whose lives, careers and volunteer activities embody the finest examples of public service.