PHILADELPHIA — On Monday, April 4, the City held the 10th annual Mayor’s Day of Service Recognition Awards Ceremony, in which Mayor Kenney recognized Philadelphia volunteers and national service members who have made a positive impact in their communities. The award ceremony was broadcast out for at-home viewers and led by the City’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service (MOCEVS).
“The Mayor’s Day of Service Recognition is meant to celebrate this year’s award recipients and all who give the gift of their time and effort through local and national service throughout the year. I want to acknowledge the time, effort, and dedication of every single person who gave back in service, especially those who supported our City’s COVID-19 recovery and vaccination efforts,” said Mayor Kenney. “This is why today, I’m pleased to recognize these exceptional Philadelphia volunteers and national service members, who work tirelessly to make their communities better.”
For this year’s event, MOCEVS received over 200 nominations that highlight the incredible work and service that takes place in Philadelphia. Each nomination shared the story of an individual who has given back to their community, made a positive impact, and affected change in others. “This high number of nominations speaks so much to the spirit of volunteerism and service within our city. Thank you to everyone who submitted a nomination, elevating the service heroes in your lives and communities,” said Romana-Lee Akiyama, Director of the Office of Public Engagement.
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 and Distinguished Corporate Skills-Based Volunteer.
In celebration of the 10th annual Mayor’s Day of Service Recognition, MOCEVS introduced a new award category – the Chief Service Officer Award. This new award recognizes Philadelphians who have made unique contributions to the city through collaborative service.
“Today’s event is truly a culmination of all of the work that happens in the Mayor’s Office of Civic Engagement and Volunteer Service. This is our opportunity to honor some of our unsung heroes of the service community,“ said Amanda Gamble, Chief Service Officer for the City of Philadelphia. “We hope that you walk away feeling inspired to show up and participate in your community in a way that speaks to you.”
The City of Philadelphia congratulates the winners of these awards.
The Mayor’s Philly Hero Award recognizes Philadelphians who have made an impact in their communities.
- Dr. Michelle Nelson is the founder of The Mama-Tee Community Fridge Project. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and has over 15 years of experience as an elementary school teacher and curriculum writer. The Mama-Tee Community Fridge Project was awarded The 2021 PEOPLE Magazine Kindness Award and has been featured in several news outlets. Dr. Nelson was a guest professor at Temple University where she spoke about the importance of focusing on “people first ” when it comes to planning and developing a neighborhood.
- Michael LiPuma has been practicing law for 27 years. For more than 20 years, the best part of his week has been supervising the Penn Law Walk-In Legal Assistance Clinic, staffed by University of Pennsylvania law students and operated with the support of the Homeless Advocacy Project. The clinic provides free legal services to Philadelphians experiencing homelessness and deep poverty.
- Pheng Seng is a Board member for the Cambodian-American business community and the South East Asian market at FDR park. He is a returning citizen who was formerly incarcerated and now is helping his community and others. Pheng organizes various resources for his community, ranging from free COVID vaccination sites to first-time home buyers programming. Pheng engages in anti-violence work and is involved with his police district to find creative ways to stop crime and violence other than the punitive approach.
The Mayor’s Youth Hero Award (age 18 and under), honors youth who have made an impact in their communities through service.
- Aisha Morales is currently attending college at Thomas Jefferson University, majoring in Pre-Nursing. She plans to become a Pediatric Nurse and continue to help those in need. Aisha has volunteered with El Concilio and will continue to do so this summer. Aisha is motivated by a desire to create a better foundation for the next generation.
- Ramier Jones is a senior at George Washington Carver High school of Engineering and Science. Ramier is a Philadelphia Youth Commissioner who has represented the youth voice countless times during City Council hearings and other spaces when decisions were being made about youth education, programming, and a multitude of other topics.
- Makayla Coleman is a junior at George Washington Carver High School of Engineering and Science. Makayla is a member and leader within Philly Teen Vaxx Ambassadors, Sojourner Leadership Camp for Girls, the Superintendent Student Advisory Committee, PhillyCAM’s Radio Broadcasting program, and Upward Bound. Makayla has been chosen to join other young aspiring influencers from across the country at George Mason University’s Washington Journalism and Media Conference.
The Mayor’s Distinguished National Service Award recognizes individuals currently serving in AmeriCorps or Senior Corps programs.
- Jada D. Washington is a member of PowerCorpsPHL AmeriCorps. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jada has been volunteering since the age of 14 years old. Before joining PowerCorps PHL, she had volunteered over 600 hours across multiple organizations ranging in cause areas from Get Put the Vote, youth literacy, hunger, and beautification efforts. Jada’s goal is to give back by creating new opportunities for Philadelphians in residency as well as entertainment and stress relief.
- Josy Charles is a retired French teacher who, for the past five years, has been volunteering as a tutor and Regional Coordinator for AARP’s Experience Corps program. As a tutor, Josy was exceptionally helpful in supporting the growing Haitian population as she speaks Creole and French. As a Regional Coordinator with Experience Corps, Josy supports other senior volunteers and since the onset of the pandemic, Josy has been teaching members how to utilize Chromebooks in order to adapt to virtual tutoring.
- Julie Gang is currently a second year member of the Notre Dame Mission Volunteers AmeriCorps Program. She serves as a group leader at the Mayfair OST (Out of School Time) site. She graduated from Temple University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Natural Sciences. After her service year, she is pursuing a dental degree, here in Philadelphia.
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.
- Carlos Acosta was born in Ecuador and came to Philadelphia with his family at the age of five. Carlos has been serving the community through Kensington Soccer Club (KSC) since 2010, beginning as a student and soccer player. After graduating, he enrolled in the Up2US Sports AmeriCorps Program and served as a coach for 3 years. He continued his work with KSC and is now their Director of Programs. Carlos has trained hundreds of youth through a trauma-informed lens and uses his bilingual skills to make the programming more accessible to Spanish-speaking youth and families.
- Erin O’Dell served with City Year Philadelphia for two years as an AmeriCorps Member in 2011 and 2012 after finishing college at Chestnut Hill College. Erin has continued their work with City Year as a staff member working as an Impact Director. Beyond Erin’s work with City Year, Erin has volunteered with KABOOM!, Big Brothers Big Sisters, a speaker at the 2021 Trans Wellness Conference, and a leader of City Year’s Project Safe Zone focusing on the LGBTQ+ community.
- Gail De Veaux served with the Foster Grandparents Program, AmeriCorps Seniors where she helped students in grades 1 – 3 with reading and math. Ms. De Veaux is active in her community, serving as Board President for her housing development and helping with food drives. Inspired by her service with the Foster Grandparents Program, Ms. De Veaux returned to college and in May 2022 she will receive her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from Harcum College located in Bryn Mawr, PA.
The Greater Philadelphia Corporate Volunteer Council’s Distinguished Corporate Volunteer recognizes corporate employee volunteers.
- Courtney Allen grew up in an underserved community. As a first-generation college graduate, who has a master’s degree in engineering from Drexel, he knows firsthand the impact that a career in a STEM field can have on an individual, their family, and their community. That’s why Courtney is committed to service as the Vice President of the board and volunteers for the Young Men & Women In Charge (YMWIC) a Non-Profit that specializes in introducing children from underserved communities to careers in STEM. Courtney is also a proud employee of PECO, a company that is equally committed to supporting its customers and communities. Through Courtney’s work, the YMWIC and PECO have been able to foster a relationship that has led to volunteer support, job shadowing, internships, full-time employment, and scholarship contributions.
- Rebecca McCormick is a Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist with Comoto Family of Brands. Before joining Comoto, Rebecca worked in non-profit workforce development first with Philadelphia Workforce Development Corporation and later as a career and training specialist for Philadelphia CareerLink. Her 15-year career has been built on the foundation of creating meaningful connections between job seekers and employers. She brings energy to her work and encouragement to those she works with – she wholeheartedly believes in Adam Grant’s quote, “The most meaningful way to succeed is to help others succeed.”
- Noel Abejo is Vice President in the Technology Infrastructure team in Wells Fargo where he started in 2000. He is also President of the Employer Impact team for the Philadelphia Chapter. Noel leads Wells Fargo’s local relationship with Big Brothers Big Sisters and helps to facilitate the matching of bank employees with 25 students from South Philadelphia’s D. Newlin Fell School. Noel is also the primary liaison for the company’s involvement in the Year Up program. Under his leadership, the company has had 41 students complete the program, which provides guidance and transferable work experience to young adults. He graduated from Widener University with a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology and from La Salle University with a Master’s in Science for Technology.
The new Chief Service Officer Award recognizes Philadelphians who have made unique contributions to the city through collaborative service.
- Anna Perng co-founded Chinatown Disability Advocacy Project in 2015 after becoming a parent to two children with disabilities. The Chinatown Disability Advocacy Project is a coalition of disabled immigrants, families, and change-makers advocating for language access, disability justice, and inclusion. She later teamed up with Philadelphia Parks and Recreation to launch the Inclusion Workgroup, and proudly served on Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities. Last year, the Biden Harris Administration appointed Anna to serve as Special Assistant at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Community Living.
- Tarik Khan is the Immediate Past President of the Pennsylvania State Nurses Association. Tarik was born and raised in Philadelphia and he is a family nurse practitioner at Abbotsford Falls Health Center. He created a special education program in Haiti called Enabling Minds and is completing his Ph.D. in nursing at the University of Pennsylvania.
A recording of the awards ceremony can be found here.