2015 David Chow Humanitarian Award Recipients

Alton Harding Hands for Africa
Alton Harding

Alton Harding is the founder and president of Hands for Africa. Alton’s work provides prosthetics to amputees in Africa. A lot of these amputees are victims from a civil war back in early 1990s. He’s given fervent life and hope to these individuals. Those that didn’t have limbs, now have prosthetics that enable them to find work, to provide for their families, to stand proud with dignity and truly restore self-esteem in these individuals. Some have gone on to participate in recreational sports, such as soccer and cricket. Where others are grateful by the sheer reality of being able to stand up tall and take one step after the other. He has also built water wells, provided micro loans to countless individuals and student scholarships to the youth. His work has changed and added to the quality of life to so many and he continues his work vigorously and with passion and conviction.

Alton sets a true and genuine example for us all. Everyone that meets him is touched and inspired in one way or another to do good for the world. In his own words, “It doesn’t matter how big or small you give, so as long as you give what you genuinely can, you make change and create impact in the lives that need it more than you.” His work has greatly added to the quality of life of thousands, he has truly restored hope that was once lost, in countless individuals.

Alton cares about providing the means to self-sufficiency. If he is able to give those the ability to walk or the ability to use their arms to eat or to work and earn money, to finally carry their child in their arms, he’s restored one of the most important aspects of an individual’s existence, their identity.

To learn more, please visit: http://www.handsforafrica.org

Barbara Gray

Barbara Gray

After years of her own personal medical struggles, Barbara Gray discovered the healing power of Physical Therapy and wanted to share the gift with those that lack access to such care. With this passion, Barbara, along with John Gray, Dan Jones and Yousef Ghandour, founded Physical Therapy For All, a new nonprofit organization located in San Diego, California. Physical Therapy For All helps those in need through recycling existing medical devices and equipment.

Barbara’s work has thoroughly affected not only the communities of San Diego and Orange County, but also people in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Syria and surrounding countries. The amount of equipment that she has been able to recycle and give out to those in need is astronomical. Not only that, she has been actively contacting physical therapy clinics and other organizations in the hopes that they would ally their respective clinics/organizations with PTFORALL.

Physical Therapy for All “recycles” used medical equipment and devise by collecting them and donating to someone in the under-served population who is in need, keeping this equipment out of landfills. These devices include wheelchairs, walkers, shower chairs, crutches, raised toilets, and many other large and small items. By giving this equipment to those in need they help their rehabilitation and quality of life while doing something positive for the planet. Hundreds of devices have been picked up and put to use at no cost to anyone.

To learn more, please visit: http://www.ptforall.org

Christopher O'Brien

Christopher O’Brien

Christopher O’Brien has devoted his life to service, education and improving the lives of others. He joined the staff of the University of Nottingham in 1968 and played a major role in building up the business, management and engineering schools. From 1996 – 2001 Professor O’Brien spent a significant proportion of his time in the Far East, first as Acting Vice-Chancellor of the British University, Thailand, and then as Pro-Vice Chancellor of the University of Nottingham for Malaysia, – the first overseas campus of any UK University, In September 2007 he transferred to the University of Nottingham, Ninbgo in Ching where he was Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Director of Nottingham University Business School. He retired from teaching in 2010.

In addition to his work as a University Professor, Christopher has served on the Board of Portland College, providing a ladder of opportunity of students with disabilities. He has devoted much of his free time to fund-raising so that the students could have a new learning center, sports facilities and even a little farm where they could learn skills and be rehabilitated. Chris also used his experience in management to set up printing and agricultural programs so that the students could learn business skills with a view to greater independence and graduation.

Christopher is never afraid to venture to remote areas, often at great personal risk and Christopher is very sociable, caring and all around a great person.

To learn more, please visit: Portland College, UK

Shelly Woolery

Shelley Woolery

Council on Aging – Orange County (COAOC) was fortunate enough to have Shelley Woolery come to the Council nearly three decades ago. Her kindheartedness for this frail population is resilient and her willpower to change the lives of the seniors she serves is inspiring. In 1987, Shelley answered an ad in the Penny Saver to volunteer as a Long-Term Care Ombudsman a program at the Council on Aging – Orange County (COAOC).

Shelley completed the Ombudsman Training offered at Orange Coast College in late Fall of 1987 & began as a volunteer Ombudsman. The State of CA soon appointed the Long-Term Care Ombudsmen as the mandated reporting agency to receive and investigate elder abuse occurring in Long-Term Care facilities. With Shelley’s Social Work education and training, she was hired on January 26, 1988 to fill and develop the new position of Elder Abuse Prevention Coordinator. On July 1, 1998 she promoted to Ombudsman Coordinator.

A Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an advocate for residents of nursing homes, board and care homes, and assisted living facilities. Ombudsmen provide information about how to select a facility and what to do to get quality care. They are trained to resolve problems, big and small. They also represent the perspective of residents in monitoring laws, regulation and policies.

Rochelle Woolery is an incredible women, she has been the beacon of light for some who felt in the dark. She is the voice of many elderly are searching for and has provided the guidance and support to so many Ombudsmen who take on this remarkable task alongside her. As the most seasoned Ombudsman in the program, Shelley is not famous, but everyone knows her name.

To learn more, please visit: http://www.coaoc.org/

Santo Ragno

Santo Ragno

Santo Ragno is a first generation Italian American originally from the east coast. He works as a Travel Coordinator at Warner Bros Studios in Burbank, CA. He, along with his partner of 15 years, Billy Rugh co-founded Creative Planet School of the Arts. Creative Planet, School of the Arts is a private arts magnet dedicated to providing a space for accelerated Academic training, intense Arts education, creative expression, and community outreach. Creative Planet, a non-profit, private elementary school, provides students with personalized, high-energy instruction in both academics and the arts including all areas of dance, acting, music and visual arts. CPSOA offers an accelerated approach to K-8th grade academia that believes all students have the ability to achieve high levels of education when given the self-esteem, discipline, and opportunity to excel in a safe, nurturing and positive environment. In 2006, Santo received the Time Warner Andrew Heiskell Award Time Warner Chairman, Dick Parsons for his work with Creative Planet.

Santo met his partner Billy while singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles in 2000. GMCLA, has been performing for more than 35 years. Santo has also toured with GMCLA to be the first gay chorus to sing in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn as well as the South American cities of Santiago, Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and Rio. Santo performed in concert in all these cities, while also reaching out to the AIDS community, providing nutritional supplies and moral support, assisting with budding gay choruses and providing general outreach to the LDBT communities.

In 2009 Santo and his partner Billy, along with 30 doctors and social workers, took six students from their school CPSOA to Arusha, Tanzania to work with local AIDS orphans, help set up an after-school arts program, and distribute food and mosquito netting to families. While there Santo, taught after-school visual arts classes with the students from the orphanage.

To learn more, please visit: http://cpsoa.org

Susan & John Jenson

John and Susan Jenson

John and Susan Jenson put on health fairs and cooking schools to reach out to the community and educate them. They are teaching people how to disease proof their bodies. As a dietitian, Susan has a wealth of knowledge on nutrition and lifestyle, which she gladly shares for free. Susan also films her programs and reaches out to thousands of people through media as well.

The work that John and Susan Jenson do is far reaching because it is part of a growing awareness throughout the world.

To learn more, please visit: http://www.southbaychurch.net

Elena Kabakchiev

Elena Kabakchieva

Elena Kabakchieva is the Chairwoman of The Health and Social Development Foundation (Hesed) which she founded in 1998. The Foundation is a leader in the development and implementation of a new approach for successful integration of the Roma community in Bulgaria. It is a social organization that breaks the vicious cycle of poverty and puts vulnerable groups on a positive path of development.
Elena and her colleagues work tirelessly to bring an effective service for planning family and
parenthood at an appropriate age and specific social and economic conditions in order to minimize the risk for institutionalization of children.

“As evidence of our success, the children in our programs raise their academic results five times compared to children in the community without access to programs for early childhood education and development.”

To learn more, please visit: http://www.hesed.bg/about-us/

2015 Clinton Sebastian

Sergeant Clinton Sebastian

Sergeant Clinton Sebastian, joined the Chicago Police Department in 1997 and was promoted to his current rank in 2009, where has upheld the finest and most noble traditions of the Chicago Police Department during his entire career of public service.

On May 11, 2014, a stolen sport utility vehicle swerved in traffic and crashed into a brick building in a rough area of downtown Chicago shortly before midnight. The driver of the damaged vehicle fled on foot while inside the vehicle lay a non-responsive child who had suffered blunt trauma. The child was removed from under the front seat by a civilian witness shortly before the vehicle burst into flames.

Arriving at the crash scene, Sergeant Clinton Sebastian sprang into action and performed CPR on the four-year-old boy whom he was able to resuscitate. The child was then taken by Fire Department ambulance to the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital for recovery.

Sergeant Clinton Sebastian has distinguished himself in the line of duty on numerous occasions and is the recipient of the Superintendent award of Valor, 21 Department Commendations, 290 Honorable Mentions, 3 lifesaving awards as well as awards from the state and county level for valor and professionalism. The Mayor and the members of the Chicago City Council, assembled to recognize the heroic actions of Sergeant Clinton Sebastian and bestowed a commendation for his unwavering dedication and continued professionalism.

Although being devoted to the police department is a full time job, Clinton’s devotion to his family is also of the highest priority. Through the endless support of his family, he feels able to go to work every night and achieve his goals of helping fellow officers and the citizens of the city of Chicago.

To learn more, please visit: http://home.chicagopolice.org/