Be The Difference Awards

Recognizing the People, Groups and Businesses who make a difference in Santa Cruz County through volunteerism.

We asked and you answered.

Thanks for sharing your extraordinary stories of those who have chosen to make their moments matter and transform our community through volunteerism.

We look forward to honoring all nominees at the Gala on  October 16th.

 Celebrating our Volunteer Champions

Friday October 16, 2015
@ the Cocoanut Grove
11:30 AM -1:30 PM


use your skills to be a hero for your community


In 2014 we honored 65 nominees and highlighted 5 outstanding examples of volunteer leadership. Check out the playlist of videos shared at the Gala.


Roy & Beverly MYMM


Everyday community members step up to make their moments matter. We invite you to hear their stories and share your moments with us at #momentsmattersc.Learn more button



Invest in our community by donating. Together we can build a stronger, happier place to live. We match every dollar with at least $4 in goods and services.donate4

2014 Be the Difference Award Highlighted Nominees

Videos produced by Lucid Sound and Pictures

  Caroline's Thrift storeChristy Licker founded Caroline’s Non-Profit Thrift Shop in July of 2011 in memory of her daughter Caroline. Caroline, a child with special needs, passed away at 16 years of age due to complications following a surgery. During Caroline’s life, she and Christy received services and support from many organizations. Opening up the all volunteer run thrift shop was a way for her to give back to the community. Over the years, Christy and her team have given over $200,000 in grants to local nonprofits working to improve the lives of children. She also volunteered her time and expertise to redecorate the family room at Jacob’s Heart, creating a beautiful, comfortable place for families to gather. Christy is an inspirational non-profit leader, devoted to supporting children in our community. View Her Story

Jacob MartinezJacob Martinez is a committed advocate for youth in Santa Cruz County. Over the past decade, he has introduced Watsonville teens to technology through after-school engineering and computer classes in the Pajaro Valley School District. As Project Director at ETR’s Watsonville TEC, Jacob led a variety of technology programs that supported youth from rural communities to pursue higher education. Under his leadership, students and programs went on to receive local and national recognition. Despite his successes, he still saw a gap in the number of current and former students that didn’t have access to computers or the internet for their school work and in their professional lives. Out of this need, “Digital Nest” was born. Located in Watsonville, “Digital Nest” aims to provide a high-tech space for young people ages 12 to 24 to gain marketable technology skills. As the founder of “Digital Nest”, Jacob is an inspiring leader with a powerful vision to create a better community by bridging the digital divide for youth and young adults in Santa Cruz County. View His Story

imagesWalnut Avenue Women’s Center- For over 80 years, Walnut Avenue Women’s Center (WAWC) has been serving Santa Cruz County. As a family resource center, WAWC’s four core programs include: an Early Education Center, Youth Development services, Domestic Violence services and a Community & Resource Development department that manages a mini-food pantry and donation station to help meet the basic needs of participants in all of its programs. Every year, the Center trains and supports about 200 volunteers to give back to the community, learn new skills, and to help the center provide services to thousands of families in the county. WAWC aims to provide high quality support and services so that women, children, and families will have the opportunities and skills to thrive. View Their Story

teen kitchen project logoTeen Kitchen Project- Since 2011, the Teen Kitchen Project has provided teens with an opportunity to learn cooking skills, while giving back to the community. Chefs and nutritionists help teens learn to cook healthy, nourishing food. The meals are delivered by adult “Delivery Angels” to individuals and families in crisis due to illness. To date teen chefs have volunteered over 2,600 hours. The Project serves about 40 clients and their families at a time. Many clients are economically disadvantaged, live alone without any support, and do not qualify for other meal programs such as Meals on Wheels. The Teen Kitchen Project provides a vital service for families struggling with illness, all while empowering teens and nourishing community. View Their Story

Santa_Cruz_WarriorsSanta Cruz Warriors- Everyone at the Santa Cruz Warriors- staff, coaches and players do their very best to fulfill the needs of this community. From combating hunger to encouraging a life long love of reading and literacy in elementary and middle school children in the district, they have proved their service to the community on and off the court. In the past year, they have collectively participated in over 100+ community events. The Warriors support the needs of the community through various donation programs, the Santa Cruz School District Read-to-Achieve program, youth basketball programs, fit clinics and other events benefitting organizations such as the Special Olympics, the Volunteer Center, and Boys and Girls Club of Santa Cruz. Anyone can easily spot Mav’Rik, the Warriors’ delightful turtle mascot, spreading his energy among crowds at various community events throughout the year. It is with this same energy that the Warrior’s continue to share resources, build relationships and give back to our community. View Their Story


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