RecognizeGood highlights everyday citizens’ contributions
Austin-based RecognizeGood showcases the works of citizens who serve the community and celebrates one such individual each month by presenting the honoree with a $1,000 check to donate to a nonprofit of his or her choice.
Joel Coffman, marketing coordinator for RecognizeGood, explains, “The mission of the organization is to seek out those wonderful people around us who are selflessly dedicating their time and effort to simply make a positive impact on our communities.”
Three Georgetown citizens have recently been named Legends: George Wagner (May 2011), Erin Kiltz (April 2013), and Karen Crosby (July 2013).
George Wagner was honored “for his incredible dedication to mentoring,” Joel says. “He helped to shape literally hundreds of lives over the course of more than a decade.”
George volunteers with the Georgetown ISD Mentoring Program because he himself encountered many of the injustices he feels kids today face. “As a child, I experienced almost every social issue,” George says. “I truly believe if any human being shows love, care, and affection to another, something positive will result.”
George puts his belief into action by working with people at several Georgetown sites. “I now mentor five at GISD Mentoring, many more at Head Start, and [others] at Brookwood in Georgetown, a vocational facility for seventeen intellectually disabled citizens [that is housed] at the [Georgetown] Church of Christ.”
“There are 2,000 parents who have requested a mentor for their child,” he points out, “but we only have about 800 [volunteer mentors] from year to year. It makes me sad when a little boy walks up to me and says, ‘Could you be my mentor?’ I do my best and say I will try.”
Erin Kiltz is a mom who desires to focus the community’s attention on opportunities for adults living with disabilities. Her program, Brookwood in Georgetown (BiG), provides these individuals with meaningful jobs and interactions.
“I don’t feel as though I’ve done anything extraordinary, other than what any mom would do,” Erin says. “As people, we all desire to have meaning and purpose, [but what if] all purpose disappeared once we graduated from high school? This is the reality for our adult children with special needs upon [their] graduation.”
“I want not just Georgetown but the whole world to know that, given the right opportunity, our adult children with special needs can do amazing things,” Erin states. “They have become artisans, jewelry makers, bakers, and card crafters. Come tour BiG and hang out with some of the most beautiful individuals you will ever meet!” The BiG shop, located at Second Street and Austin Avenue, offers beautiful, decorative wares made and sold by BiG citizens.
Upon receiving her award, Karen Crosby scanned the roomful of her peers and found herself “humbled beyond belief.” Karen was honored for starting a service-learning model with GISD students. One program, The Locker, is student-run and allows GISD students in need to “shop” discreetly for basics like hygiene products and school supplies.
“I remember thinking, ‘I am just a simple woman, on a simple mission,’” Karen recalls. “I just want to help others.”
More than 200 Georgetown students qualify as homeless. With Karen’s help, students find a sense of normalcy while getting their basic needs met. “We all need a little help every now and then of some sort,” Karen acknowledges. “When we put aside our own self-importance and think about the importance of our fellow students, it helps us realize how important every person is.”
Karen encourages everyone to “learn about a need in our community . . . then make a meaningful difference to make it better.”
To find out more about RecognizeGood, go to www.recognizegood.org. To learn more about the BiG shop’s offerings, visit www.brookwoodcommunity.org. Information on The Locker can be found at www.thelocker.info. To find information about mentoring, go to www.georgetownisd.org.