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On Wednesday, April 13th, two of our programs were recognized for their dedication to the Fresno community at the 48th Annual Hands Across the Valley Volunteer of the Year Awards luncheon. The Making Spirits Bright committee, which is led and was nominated by Fresno EOC Sanctuary & Youth Services, won the Outstanding Corporate/Business Volunteer of the Year Award. Making Spirits Bright has been spreading holiday cheer to local low-income elementary school students and their families for 22 years with the help of the committee which consists of local businesses; such as Anthem Blue Cross, London Properties, Macy’s, PG&E, and USDA Forest Service-Sierra National Forest. Together the committee, Fresno EOC Sanctuary & Youth Services, and other volunteers cook and serve a holiday feast, give out hand sew stockings, hand selected individualized gifts for every child, deliver fresh cut trees and provide ornaments and lights for every child.

The Fresno EOC Foster Grandparent program was also recognized and eight Grandparents were awarded with the Lifetime Achievement Award from HandsOn Central California. Along with this award, 38 of our Grandparents received the President’s Service Award through the   Corporation for National and Community Service. Foster Grandparent Program volunteers – referred to affectionately as Grandma or Grandpa- are matched with an infant, a child, or a teen and mentor these youngsters on a one-to-one basis or in group settings to promote literacy and academic success as well as fostering social-emotional and cognitive-behavioral development.

The event had multiple speakers and showcased the commitment local Central Valley residents had to their community. The highlight of the event was keynote speaker Mayor Ashley Swearengin who announced that over 2 million volunteer hours were put in throughout Fresno. It was a wonderful luncheon that highlighted the importance of giving back and how much happiness volunteering can bring to someone’s life. Congrats to the Making Spirits Bright committee, Fresno EOC Santucary & Youth Services, and Fresno EOC Foster Grandparent program! You are truly inspiring and transforming lives.