Celebrating Those Who Give Back

27 Jun 2018 - By TW Staff
There's nothing quite like celebrating inspiring people to get a little inspiration yourself.

Yesterday, WarnerMedia celebrated a time-honored tradition of employee volunteerism with its annual Richard D. Parsons Community Impact Awards.

Named in honor of former Time Warner chairman and CEO Dick Parsons—himself a celebrated philanthropist and community-service advocate—the awards honor employees who've gone above and beyond in service to their communities. An awards luncheon at New York City's Time Warner Center feted this year's honorees and served up a $5,000 donation to each of the charities benefiting from their volunteer efforts.

Tracy Morgan. Photo by Catalina Kulczar-Marin.

Special guest Tracy Morgan of TBS' The Last O.G. wowed the crowd with his passionate call to service.

"This has been about celebrating community and people who spend their time helping others. All you recipients, you're putting yourself in service to others, and that's what it's all about," Morgan told the crowd. "Keep up the good work."

Meet the winners of the 2018 Richard D. Parsons Community Impact Awards below, and think about them the next time you need inspiration to do good.

2018 Parsons Award Winners

Darren Bignell

For nearly two decades, Darren Bignell has served the people of Western Kenya as both a co-founder and one of the most active members of Amani UK, an humanitarian charity with a mission to create communities out of tragedy. Amani brings together community groups of widows, offering them education and investment—including healthcare, food preparation, disease prevention, business development and more—and who then agree to take in orphaned children, integrating them into families and saving them from growing up disadvantaged in institutions.

Kevin Garvey

Through his efforts with the organization Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, Kevin Garvey turns excess food from restaurants and eateries into meals at local soup kitchens throughout New York City. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine identifies soup kitchens and homeless shelters in need of food donations, then locates nearby restaurants, hotels, and catering companies with excess food in that vicinity. Leveraging technology and a special web application Kevin helped design, Rescuing Leftover Cuisine tracks food inventory and mobilizes volunteers for food pickups and deliveries. He also sits on the organization’s Board. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine operates in 16 cities across the U.S. and has rescued 1.73 million pounds of food to date since the organization's inception in 2013.

Amy La Porte

The alarming number of homeless individuals sleeping on the street outside her apartment in Atlanta each night spurred Amy to action. As a high mountain climber and skier, she understands the rule of convection: If you only have one item to use for warmth while sleeping, put it on the ground rather than covering your body with it. This prevents the potentially deadly drainage of heat away from the body by the cold ground. Amy began handing out sleep surfaces, mostly yoga mats, to people she found sleeping under bridges, in parks and in doorways. What started as a small operation funded by her own money has grown into the IRS-approved nonprofit Softer Streets, whose mission is to get every unsheltered homeless person in America off the ground and onto a softer surface.

Jennifer Mancuso

After losing her 4-year-old son, VJ, to a courageous battle with a rare heart condition, Jennifer and her husband Vince embarked on what was to become their life’s passion and founded the VJ Mancuso Memorial Fund in honor of their late son. The fund raises money to enable children with special needs to learn with the same abilities of all children. Since its inception, the VJ Memorial Fund has raised over $210,000 and has distributed the donations amongst several organizations that impacted VJ’s life.

Colleen Sullivan

Colleen’s son was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder in March of 2014, and within a week of the diagnosis she was looking for opportunities to get involved with local autism organizations. Colleen is devoted not only to awareness, but also to increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder. Through her work with Autism Speaks she has been able to help many newly diagnosed families connect to service providers, while also offering advocacy and support. As the chair of the annual Autism Speaks Southern Pieces Gala in 2016 and 2017, Colleen helped to raise over $150,000 for local program grants, iPad grants and autism support services. Additionally, Colleen’s Autism Speaks walk team has raised nearly $30,000 over the past three years.

Shannon Sylvain

During a routine doctor visit about a sinus infection, a chance comment to her doctor began Shannon Sylvain’s personal odyssey, from a diagnosis of Stage IV colon cancer, to educating herself on factors affecting cancer growth and, ultimately, a traumatic course of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that saved her life. Along the way, Shannon and her doctor learned that many cancers flourish in sugar-rich environments, and people of color are disproportionately affected because of poorly informed eating choices and a lack of education. That was the genesis of Brown Sugar Rehab, the non-profit Shannon founded to help educate communities of color on healthy nutrition, improve access to tools—like at-home tests and genetic-testing systems—that help communities better manage risk, and prevent disease through better food-labeling practices.