Honoring Compassion: The Jefferson Award

“To power others to have maximum impact on the things they care most about.”

-Jefferson Award Foundation Mission Statement    

The Jefferson Award Foundation was created in 1972 and is the longest running public service award in the nation. The award is the primary way that students at our school can get recognized for their work in the community. The process is unique, however, because it is available to non-students as well. Anyone can nominate anyone in their community who they feel has contributed to the greater good. In addition, new winners are selected every semester by members of our own student body. This year, juniors Sophia Shapiro and Rachel Battersby are in charge of choosing the winners.

“We look for someone who does extraordinary volunteer work throughout our whole community,” said Shapiro. “We make sure that they involve themselves as much as they can and that they are passionate. So if they volunteer at multiple organizations and impact a number of people’s lives frequently then that’s our winner.”

The winners of the Jefferson Award represent compassion and ingenuity as some have even begun their own charitable organizations. Junior Elexi Kourtoglou won the award during the Spring 2015 semester after creating Hugs with Love.

Hugs with Love is Kourtoglou’s fundraiser “to team up with California Pacific Medical Center/Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital to provide a Build a Bear to every patient who is admitted to Children’s beginning this upcoming holiday season,... to raise funds year round for those who are admitted and to also fulfill items on the wish list for the children’s hospital playroom,” (Hugs with Love’s kickstarter page).

    After winning the Jefferson Award for her efforts, Kourtoglou was selected to represent Burlingame High School and was honoured at a Giants game for her accomplishments.

Kourtoglou reflected, “The recognition I received for it was amazing and it was very encouraging to hear the uplifting response for the foundation I created.”

The upcoming awards cycle will honour new community leaders and give hardworking students and community members the praise they deserve.

“I think people underestimate their chances of winning, but it doesn’t hurt to at least try. A lot of people don’t know about it so we are trying to publicize it more,” said Shapiro.

Nomination forms stopped being accepted up until Friday, May 5 and the applicants are currently being sorted through. The winners will be announced at the Spring Rally so be sure to look out for our next town heroes.

Posted on May 19, 2016 .