PHILADELPHIA — PHILADELPHIA — Each year, Philadelphia joins more than 4,250 cities, counties, and tribal areas to celebrate the contributions of its volunteers and national service leaders. On Tuesday, September 29, the 8th annual Mayor’s Day of Service Recognition Awards Ceremony was held, where Mayor Kenney recognized 15 Philadelphia volunteers and national service members who have made a positive impact in their communities through national and volunteer service. The virtual award ceremony and the volunteer service fair were organized and led by the City’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service (MOCEVS).

“The events over the past six months have highlighted just how strong the spirit of service is within Philadelphia. I want to acknowledge the time, effort, and dedication of every single person who gave back in service during our response to COVID-19,” said Mayor Kenney. “This year’s honorees are the reason why Philadelphia is such a great city. Thank you for making our communities a better place to live.” 

MOCEVS received over 250 nominations that highlight the incredible work and service that takes place in Philadelphia. Volunteers were nominated by family, friends, and members of the public in five award categories: Mayor’s Philly Hero Award, Mayor’s Youth Hero Award (age 18 and under), Mayor’s Distinguished National Service Award, Mayor’s Distinguished National Service Alumni Award and the Greater Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council’s Distinguished Corporate Volunteer. 

This year, the 8th annual Mayor’s Day of Service Recognition Awards included a new award category: the Greater Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council’s Distinguished Corporate Volunteer, to recognize corporate employee volunteers for their efforts. 

“The Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service works to ensure that all Philadelphians have the opportunity to give back, whether it’s through increasing their civic engagement skills, participating in volunteer service, or committing to a year -or more – of national service through our national service programs, said Amanda Gamble, Chief Service Officer for the City of Philadelphia. “Thanks to every person who submitted a nomination for this year’s awards. Thank you for helping elevate service and community leaders across our city.”

The City of Philadelphia congratulates the winners of these awards.

2020 Honorees:

The Mayor’s Philly Hero Award recognizes Philadelphians who have made an impact in their communities.

  • Taj Murdock is the Chief Executive Officer/Director at The Empowerment Achievement Movement Inc. (T.E.A.M. INC.) and founder of Men Of Courage, a mentoring program for young men that focuses on a variety of areas like community service, effective communication, academics, behavior skills, and professional skills. 
  • Lenore Israel, BS, RN, has worked in the field of nursing for over 38 years and recently started her own organization, Lenore’s Loving Care, that mentors minorities who are interested in a career in nursing and guides students so they will successfully complete their education.
  • Christine Joy Brunson is a PA licensed social worker who developed the Purple House Project PA Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to strengthen, empower and transition women who experience Intimate Partner Violence. 

The Mayor’s Youth Hero Award (age 18 and under), honors youth who have made an impact in their communities through service.

  • Dajah Horsey is a Judicial Secretary for The Honorable Judge James Deleon, at The Criminal Justice Judicial District. She recently graduated from Girard College where she served as the president of the National Honor Society and founded SHEBA – She Has Everything But Acknowledgement – to spread awareness about inequalities women face in society. 
  • Jahaira Romero is a recent graduate from Bodine High School for International Affairs where she began volunteering with Philly Reading Coaches in 2018 and became a Site Coordinator with them her senior year. Jahaira is now a freshman at Penn State – Abington campus.
  • Qinlan Moc graduated from Central High School where she first got involved with Youth Volunteer Corps in 2016. She continues to be involved because she wants to inspire other youth to develop a passion for service. She is now a freshman at Drexel.

The Mayor’s Distinguished National Service Award recognizes individuals currently serving in AmeriCorps or Senior Corps programs.

  • Ann Yamamoto retired from the Philadelphia School District,where she ran the school library (K-8) for over 20 years. The day after she retired, Ann started volunteering with Klein Life through the Senior Corps RSVP program as well as with the American Red Cross and her local food bank.
  • Sara Zhou Sara Zhou recently completed her AmeriCorps term with the National Nurse-Led Consortium as the Opioid Outreach Coordinator at New Pathways Project. As a first year medical student, she hopes to use the knowledge and skills that she gained from her service year mentors to provide equitable, culturally sensitive patient care.
  • Annelieske Sanders served as a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member for HIAS PA on their Refugee Resettlement Team as a Housing Coordinator. In her role, she helps new arrivals find and secure housing, navigate utilities and tenant rights, and helps families start to turn their new space into a home.

The Mayor’s Award for Distinguished National Service Alumni is awarded to alumni of national service programs who have continued to lead a life of service.

  • Larissa Morgan is a third-year J.D. candidate at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where she is also pursuing a Master of Bioethics through the School of Medicine. Prior to her graduate studies, Larissa served as an Americorps VISTA at the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium where she became a certified health insurance navigator.
  • Paula Crawford, M.Ed, MS, LPC, NCC., is a former AmeriCorps- National School and Community Corps member/Team Leader who served at Vaux Middle School 1997 – 2000. Ms. Crawford has been a Professional School Counselor for The School District of Philadelphia since 2002. Ms. Crawford has volunteered as a PMBC Block Captain and with the PA Board of Elections in Philadelphia.
  • Brendan Morrissey is an AmeriCorps Alumni who served with City Year in 2006-2007. Currently in his 15th year with the organization, he now serves as Impact Director supporting City Year teams at 6 elementary schools in Philadelphia. Brendan is a founding board member of GLSEN Philly and core member of BARWE215 – Building Anti-Racist White Educators.

The Greater Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council’s Distinguished Corporate Volunteer recognizes corporate employee volunteers.

  • Minzhi “Jay” Chen is a Software Quality Engineer at Comcast. Outside of work, Jay spearheads many of Comcast’s corporate volunteerism as the community service lead of APA, one of Comcast’s employee resource groups. He also serves on the executive committee of the Asian Mosaic Fund to advance the well-being of the Greater Philadelphia Asian community by providing grants and support to local grassroots Asian led and Asian serving nonprofits.
  • Andy Boczkowski is Assistant General Counsel at GlaxoSmithKline.  Since joining GSK in 2004, he manages product liability litigation, internal and government investigations, and a variety of commercial litigation. He also serves as Chair of GSK Legal’s in-house pro bono program.
  • Deanne Riley-Giddins is a Senior Network Coordinator at IBX by day and a mother, wife, glammom, and avid volunteer when not working. She enjoys spending time with her loved ones, traveling and servicing the community through corporate volunteering. Deanne has been recognized by her company for the last three years for being the top volunteer in the company, servicing close to 900 hours of community service. 

A recording of the awards ceremony can be found here