Rotary to Once Again Host Jefferson Awards Program

The Jefferson Awards: they call them the Nobel Prizes for community service, and the next winner could be in Greater Cincinnati’s back yard, said Bill Shula, who coordinates the local nomination process for The Rotary Club of Cincinnati. “We’re accepting nominations from the public from Dec. 6 through Jan. 17, 2020,” said Shula, who chairs the Jefferson Award Committee that will choose a local winner to compete for the national award. 

In the past 15 years, eight local winners have gone on to receive the national award. In 2019, Tim Arnold of Northside, who founded Lawn Life to give jobs and a second chance to at-risk young people, won the national award.

Other recent national winners were Nancy Eigel-Miller of Mariemont, honored in 2018 for suicide prevention work, and Suzy DeYoung of Milford, honored in 2017, for creating a non-profit that enlists restaurant owners to help feed low income families.

 “Greater Cincinnati has incredibly generous and creative people who are changing the world around them,” said Shula. “We want to recognize them here at home and nationally.

“That’s why we’re asking the public to look at the people who make a difference and nominate them,” said Shula.

The Jefferson Awards is a program of the national non-profit Multiplying Good, which promotes community service and presents the national Jefferson Awards honoring outstanding service in more than a dozen categories, from service by public officials and professional sports figures to service by private citizens, students and corporations.

The local nomination process is for the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Public Service Benefitting Local Communities, part of the overall Jefferson Awards.  Winners are chosen through community nomination programs in more than 90 communities throughout the country. The Rotary Club of Cincinnati administers the nomination program in Greater Cincinnati, with local partners The Cincinnati Enquirer and WKRC-TV Local 12. Nominees do not have to be Rotary members.

Bob Herzog of Local 12 will honor three local finalists and present the local Jefferson Award at the weekly Rotary luncheon on Feb. 27, 2020, at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel, downtown.

The winning nominee becomes one of 90 national finalists. Typically, five national winners are honored in a ceremony in Washington, D.C. in June.

Deadline to nominate is Jan. 17, 2020.

The Jefferson Awards program was created in 1972 by Cincinnati native, then-U.S. Senator Robert Taft, and former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The program was designed to be the Nobel Prize for community service.

The Rotary Club of Cincinnati has coordinated the local nomination and award program since 2005. The award honors community volunteers who provide special services to organizations or have created programs that serve unmet needs. Nominees exemplify the Rotary motto: Service above self.