2018 Acts of Kindness Awards Finalists
You voted, now plan to attend the Acts of Kindness Awards Gala where the award recipients will be announced
Outstanding Community Service
"It's not in me to see people hurting, or without, and turn a blind eye"
Dajuan Gay believes in making the life of others better and doing for those who can never repay him. Dajuan’s early years were chaotic, but the experiences he’s had has helped him grow into leadership roles and to instill in him the need to contribute to communities and citizens in need. Even when in high school, in Annapolis, MD, he successfully rallied his class together to promote academic excellence and community awareness. In the wake of national unrest of police shootings of black men, Dajuan organized a March of Solidarity in Annapolis, MD that brought together over 200 local citizens young and old; black, brown and white to demonstrate the need for community involvement and equality.
Most recently, while home from college on a summer break, and after watching his elderly and disabled neighbors struggle due to extremely hot weather conditions, Dajuan sprang into action and decided to do something about it. He started a Fundly page, raising money to buy neighbors air conditioning units. He raised over $5,000 and received several donations of new and used A/C units and fans. He says the most gratifying part was seeing how overjoyed his neighbors were to receive an A/C unit.
Dajuan is a full-time student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, with a double major in Sociology and Social Work and a double minor in Public Policy and Political Science. Dajuan has also served as an intern in the Maryland General Assembly Legislative Program. In this role, he was provided the opportunity to provide research and staff assistance to legislators and to have both an educational and practical work experience in the Legislative Branch of State government. Through this experience, Dajuan says he was able to envision the responsibilities of an elected official: to have positive relationships with constituents; be actively engaged in the community; and to inspire citizens to pay forward a cycle of positive change and progress. Dajuan is passionate about helping others, as evidenced by his unselfish regard for helping citizens and communities in need.
"Responding to emergencies and lending a helping hand is my first instinct."
Hurricane Harvey, in August 2017, is said to have been the costliest tropical cyclone on record, and the second-costliest natural disaster worldwide. In a four-day period, many areas received more than 40 inches of rain as the system slowly meandered over eastern Texas and adjacent waters, causing catastrophic flooding. The resulting floods inundated hundreds of thousands of homes, displaced more than 30,000 people, and prompted more than 17,000 rescues.
Kristine Davis, an Emergency Medical Technician and Paramedic, is a 20-year member of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, in Bel Air Maryland. Responding to emergencies, from someone who may be having a heart attack in her home to multi-vehicle accidents on the highway, is not foreign to Kristine. Lending a helping hand is her first instinct. So, it comes as no surprise when Kristine didn’t hesitate to get geared-up to address the massive need from the impact of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. Help came in the form of donations from the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company, led by Kristine. She organized the BAVFC to hold a donation drive, asking for basic necessities, such as food, bottled water, and toiletries. She coordinated with the American Red Cross on delivering the goods to those in the flood-ravaged areas. It was a lot of work, Kristine will tell you, but she’ll also say it was more than worth it.
The road to recovery will be difficult for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. No one knows just how long it will take – perhaps years. But the genuine outpouring of kindness and generosity led by Kristine Davis helps to show that sometimes a crisis can bring out a person’s true character and bring out the best in people.
Minister Maurice Winn
"When I'm in service to others, it's like ripples in an ocean"
Minister Maurice Winn’s career profession is as a Radio Frequency Engineer at Alion Science and Technology in Annapolis Junction, MD. In addition to preventing interference to and from electronic equipment such as wireless equipment, radios, and cellular phones, Minister Maurice has a true love for God and a natural inclination to go above and beyond for others. He is an Associate Minister at First Baptist Church of Glenarden, in Landover, MD, where Pastor John K. Jenkins Sr., is Pastor. He volunteers his time and talents to several ministries there, to include ministering to youth and senior citizens. Maurice has served the senior citizens by visiting senior community homes, nursing homes, and rehabilitation centers where he has shared a word of encouragement, listened to their stories, or graciously beat them in a game of bingo. Minister Maurice also started the Lion’s Den Program at the SHABACH Christian Academy, in Glenarden, MD. SHABACH! Ministries, Inc., is the community services arm of First Baptist Church of Glenarden. Founded in 1996, SMI specializes in educational and community services that empower youth, seniors and families. The Lion’s Den Program teaches life skills to boys in grades 6 thru 8, and it exposes them to the many opportunities that exist beyond high school. Still, outside of his career profession and his work in the church, Minister Maurice volunteers by coaching three youth boys’ soccer teams for Laurel United which is part of the Laurel Soccer Club located in Laurel, MD. Maurice uses soccer as yet another opportunity to teach kids about life; that in life there will be ups and downs, wins and losses, and highs and lows. Needless to say, Minister Maurice is a shining example of what it means to get involved and to share one’s time and talents to make a difference in the lives of others.
Outstanding Human Services
Good Samaritan S/Hero
"I'm a living example of how a small act of kindness, especially between strangers, can unfold in ways unimaginable."
The proportion of people who “helped a stranger” went down last year, according to the latest World Giving Index. It fell 1.8 percentage points, with 80 countries seeing a decline compared to 52 that saw an increase. Ann Dahms, however, is very aware of the need to promote kindness and she actively looks for opportunities to do so.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott estimated that Hurricane Harvey damaged some 200,000 homes in a path of destruction stretching for more than 300 miles. Floodwaters ruined floors, walls, carpets, furniture, appliances and so much more. Shirley Hines’ home was one of those in Harvey’s path. Among the many things damaged were a few things irreplaceable, or so perhaps Shirley thought. Six Fitz & Floyd cups were damaged from the massive storm. Shirley was given the set from her late mother, and they were a precious memento of her mother. Ann read about Shirley’s story in the New York Times, which included a photograph of the damaged cups, and she wanted to do something about it. Ann contacted a representative for Fitz & Floyd, only to learn that the manufacturing of the particular pattern of Shirley’s cups were discontinued nearly 40 years ago. After extensive research by the Fitz & Floyd representative, three cups were found on eBay for sale. Ann bought them and had them sent as a gift for Shirley.
As a result of the ensuing press coverage, other gifts were sent to Ms. Hines by other readers of The New York Times, but a spectacular gift came from eBay itself. Reading that the gift was found on eBay, the company reached out to Ms. Hines and delivered to her a 2016 Jeep Compass SUV because her car had been ruined in the flood.
Ann Dahms is a living example of how even our smallest acts of kindness, especially between strangers, can unfold in ways none of us can imagine at the time.
Officer Bennett Johns
"I considered the situation and then felt compelled to help so that the young child would not suffer."
In difficult economic times, there are tough choices to be made. Sometimes people make poor choices during challenging times. Sometimes poor choices include breaking the law. If you shoplift, you are breaking the law. For a young mother caught shoplifting at an area grocery store, the crime was not out of greed, but one seen as necessary by a mother trying to care for her child.
Police officers focus on protecting people and property, and they often come into contact with people when they are vulnerable. Officer Bennett Johns, of the Laurel Maryland Police Department, responded to a call at a local grocery store after a woman was accused of stealing $15 worth of diapers. The 20-year-old mother ran out of money after buying groceries and didn’t have enough left over to purchase the diapers, the police department wrote in a Facebook post. Johns issued the woman a criminal citation for the theft, but told Fox 32 that he still wanted to help her out. “This mother was going out of her way and doing everything she can to provide for her kid and I can respect that,” he told the TV station. Johns, who was raised by a single mother, said the woman’s struggle reflected much of his own upbringing. “I can sympathize with that so that is why I made the decision to help the mother by purchasing the diapers out of my own pocket for her child.” according to the Facebook post.
Some may argue that we like to help others because it makes us feel good. The person you help is appreciative, kindness is reciprocated, the positive energy of helping someone lingers for a while and can even spill into other areas of our lives. Officer Johns’ act of kindness towards a stranger, on the other hand, is as an example of having a selfless concern for the welfare of another. Each and every person is inherently valuable and deserves a hand-up when in need. If everyone in the world would do for a stranger what Officer Johns did, just imagine how much better the world would be.