The Difference Makers for Wichita awards banquet was held Feb. 22, 2020 in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center on the Newman University campus.
Newman, along with The Wichita Eagle, is a title sponsor of the annual event that recognizes Wichita area individuals and organizations who are working locally to make a positive difference in their community. This is the fourth year for the awards.
Ten Wichita community members were recognized for their outstanding service and dedication at the banquet.
The following awards were presented during the event:
The Russ Meyer Community Leadership Award, named after longtime aviation advocate, philanthropist and community leader Russ Meyer, is given to an individual making a positive impact in our community through demonstrated excellence in leadership and outstanding initiative to create solutions for critical issues facing the area.
The 2020 recipient was Diana Schunn, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County. The Child Advocacy Center of Sedgwick County is dedicated to working with child victims of abuse and their caregivers.
The Brian Bergkamp Student Service Award is named for the late seminarian Brian Bergkamp. This award is given to a high school student who has demonstrated a selfless and giving attitude to positively transform society.
Awardee Wichita Collegiate High School student Austin Miller volunteers multiple times a week with Little Blessings Miniature Horse Therapy and regularly visits Wesley Children’s Hospital, several Wichita area retirement homes and the local Veterans Administration Center.
The Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Not-For-Profit Award, presented by the Nonprofit Chamber of Service, is named for former Newman University president Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC, who played a major role in the growth of the university. It is awarded to a mission-driven nonprofit organization that is creating a significant impact within our community.
The 2020 recipient was Vet-to-Vet Support Command, whose co-founders are Patty Gnefkow and Howard Hutchison. The organization is a support group for veterans, connecting them with a variety of service organizations for the advancement of veteran causes.
The Ivonne Goldstein Community Volunteer Award is presented by Emprise Bank and is named for the late Ivonne Goldstein, who served on the boards of or raised money for more than 50 Wichita organizations. This award is presented to an individual who through outstanding volunteer community service and commitment is making a measurable difference.
Ruth Holliday, the 2020 recipient, is one of the founding members and a highly engaged activist for local Rails to Trails endeavors, the Redbud Trail and the Prairie Sunset Trail. She and her husband, Bob, own and operate Bicycle Pedaler.
The Marshall Murdock Award for Business, sponsored by the Wichita Eagle, is named for Marshall Murdock, founder of the Eagle in 1872. The award is given to an area business that is making a positive impact by addressing a major community challenge or by implementing ideas that enhance opportunities for employees through creativity and innovation.
This year’s recipient, Revolutsia, is a retail, restaurant and office space using an established building and shipping containers to create an engaging atmosphere that creates a sense of belonging and community.
The awards banquet also honored five “Everyday Heroes.” This award, presented by Spirit Aerosystems, is presented to individuals who are committed and inspired to serve others daily in order to make a positive difference.
The 2020 Everyday Hero recipients are listed below:
Paxton’s Blessing Box — Started by a 6-year-old boy and his mom, Paxton’s Blessing Boxes are located all around Wichita and outside the state of Kansas to provide food for the underserved.
Carol Gorges — Carol serves as a mentor for juvenile offenders and foster care youth through two organizations; Youth for Christ and Mentoring for Success. She dedicates her time to young people and shows them unconditional love.
Benita Chaplin and Sarah Demby, T.O.U.C.H. Closet — Touching Others Until Change Happens (T.O.U.C.H.) partners with USD 259 schools to provide clothing to children in need.
Juanita Ridge — Juanita creates grassroots projects and support groups while redirecting families to available resources all within the Wichita community. She is passionate about service and helping children and families thrive.
Ben Grisamore — Volunteering has been a major part of Ben’s life. His passion is helping the homeless population and ministering in prisons. He was one of the founding members of Advocates to End Chronic Homelessness.
In addition to the Difference Makers awards, Newman University alumna Linda Davison received the St. John Henry Newman Medal, the university’s highest honor.
Davison served on the Newman University Board of Trustees from 2007-2017 and has served on numerous university committees. Davison and her business, Seeder, Inc., have been consistent and generous supporters of Newman University academics and athletics.
Difference Makers for Wichita is sponsored by Newman University and The Wichita Eagle. Media sponsors for Difference Makers for Wichita 2020 are KWCH, 103.7 KEYN, 105.3 the Buzz, Sports Radio KFH, KNSS and Power 93.5.