This week, President Barack Obama awarded the 2010 Citizens Medal to 13 outstanding Americans who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”
The Citizens Medal is the second highest civilian honor in our nation. For over 40 years, the Presidential Citizens Medal has recognized America’s most respected heroes and public figures like Muhammad Ali, Colin Powell and Bob Dole, as well as everyday heroes like Oseola McCarty, a washerwoman who left her entire life savings to establish a scholarship for students in need.
This year, the President decided to try something different, asking the American public to nominate selfless heroes from their community. The White House received over 6,000 nominations from around the country.
The 13 award winners include a widow who lost her husband on 9/11 and turned her grief into hope for Afghani women whose husbands were lost to the Taliban; a school bus driver who delivers hot meals and coffee to New York City’s homeless 365 nights a year; a North Chicago nurse who opened a live-in center for helping pregnant teenagers.
Watch the video of the White House ceremony below, or go to the White House Citizen’s Medal website to watch interviews with any of the winners… Here are some of the winners and their stories:
When a pregnant teenager with no place to stay arrived at her door, Daisy Brooks welcomed the young woman in. What followed was a lifelong commitment to helping many of North Chicago’s young mothers and their infants. Brooks opened Daisy’s Resource and Developmental Center to serve as a dormitory, school, and catalyst for young women to improve their lives. Brooks receives the Citizens Medal for offering guidance and support to young women.
Jorge Muñoz has given his time, energy, and resources dedicated to feeding the hungry, while demonstrating the enduring American values of sacrifice and kindness. Muñoz receives the Citizens Medal for his service and dedication to creating a more hopeful tomorrow for the less fortunate among us.
He was runner-up for CNN Hero of the Year in 2009, and featured here on the Good News Network.
Beginning with a wagon full of coffee and sandwiches, Lisa Nigro’s mission to aid those living on the streets of Chicago has inspired us all. Her wagon gave way to a restaurant for homeless men and women, expanding with partner organizations to provide housing, job training, and vital support to Chicagoans affected by poverty.
Nigro receives the Citizens Medal for her tireless service to her fellow citizens.
After losing her husband in the attacks of September 11, 2001, Susan Retik Ger found a cause in educating and training Afghan widows and their children. She understands the importance of empowering women touched by personal tragedy and her strength of spirit has healed hearts, and fostered mutual understanding and a common future. Retik Ger receives the Citizens Medal for advancing women’s rights and demonstrating the power of America’s ideals.
Cynthia Church turned a personal battle with cancer into a force for progress and change. Dismayed by the lack of resources for women of color with breast cancer, Church founded Sisters on a Mission, Inc, an African-American breast cancer support network in Delaware. Church receives the Citizens Medal for confronting the scourge of this terrible disease and working to halt its spread.
Physical limitations have not hindered Mary K. Hoodhood’s determination to strengthen her community. Though a car accident left her paralyzed, Hoodhood began volunteering to feed the hungry through her local Meals on Wheels program. In 2001, Hoodhood founded Kids’ Food Basket which provides meals to thousands of children in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Hoodhood receives the Citizens Medal for her remarkable efforts to nourish our nation’s children.
Parent and advocate, Kimberly McGuiness has been a true champion for deaf students. Her persistent letters, phone calls, and visits to state legislators helped spur the passage of Georgia’s Deaf Child’s Bill of Rights. She has led workshops, counseled parents, and changed lives, raising awareness and support for deaf education. McGuiness receives the Citizens Medal for demonstrating the results one citizen can achieve.
For decades, Myrtle Faye Rumph has lent her talent and compassion to impacting the lives of at-risk youth. Her commitment to reducing gun and gang violence in her community has steered countless young men and women away from dangerous habits, and altered the course of their futures. Rumph receives the Citizens Medal for her tireless efforts to replace violence and despair in her community with a beacon of hope and humanity.