Ten Wichita community members will be recognized for their outstanding service and dedication at the 2020 Difference Makers for Wichita awards banquet Feb. 22 in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center on the Newman University campus.
The fourth annual Difference Makers for Wichita honors individuals and organizations making a positive difference and celebrates their contributions, value and influence on improving the greater Wichita community.
The following awards will be presented at the banquet:
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 is 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.
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. Austin Miller, who attends Wichita Collegiate High School, 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 Veteran’s Administration.
Sister Tarcisia Roths, ASC, Not-For-Profit Award, presented by Nonprofit Chamber of Service, is named for former Newman University President 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 in our community. The 2020 recipient is 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.
Ivonne Goldstein Community Volunteer Award is presented by Emprise Bank and 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 highly engaged activist for local Rails to Trails endeavors, the Redbud Trail and the Prairie Sunset Trail.
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, which 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 will also honor five “Everyday Heroes.” The award, presented by Spirit Aerosystems, will be presented to individuals who are committed and inspired to serve others daily in order to make a positive difference. The 2020 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 juvenile offender and foster care youth. She mentors 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, and redirects 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 AECH (Advocate to End Chronic Homelessness).
In addition to the Difference Makers awards, Newman University alumna Linda Davison will receive 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.