And the Winners Are …

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All of our CAC AmeriCorps members are spectacular and get great things done and we love them all. But there are those who ascend above even such a high bar, and on June 15th, 2020, we gathered at the Parkway Drive-In Theatre in Maryville, TN to give them the recognition they deserve while maintaining social distance. Here they are:

State/National

Jackie Eul – Servant Leadership

Jackie Overlook

Jackie is the definition of a servant leader! Jackie had the difficult challenge of meeting the needs of three different schools in three very different communities. She was always thoughtful of all three of her schools, the South Knox community, and her fellow peers… She has grown so much in the past two years and she has created a network of partners with overlapping interests in nature based community health. She always brought fellow members into the schools to collaborate with on programming and was such a positive and engaged member of our team. -Kara Strouse, Dogwood Elementary Community School

 

Kalil White – Outstanding Achievement

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No one deserves this achievement more than Kalil! She has been a tremendous asset to our organization during her time at Inskip… Kalil’s direct involvement within our organization has contributed to much of the success we have seen over the past two years… Her zeal and drive to constantly improve has been displayed by her continued commitment to success… She has also established various exciting initiatives, … which all promote greater awareness to the aspirations of the after-school program, our organization, and the school at large. I am thankful to have had the privilege to work along side her and look forward to what her future holds. -Blaine Sample, University Assisted Community Schools

 

Julie Elfin – Environmental Steward

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Discover Life in America (DLiA) hit the jackpot with Julie Elfin, … our very first Americorps member! Julie has taken this newly created position and made it her own, expanding our education programming and growing our social media presence, significantly… We continue to be amazed by Julie’s calm adaptability, efficient manner, exceptional knowledge, and professionalism. She has left a legacy for the position and has set the tone for those that follow her. We will forever be grateful for her hard work, commitment, and friendship. It has been a pleasure to work with Julie and we are going to miss her. – Todd Witcher & Will Kuhn, Discover Life in America

 

Annalisa Tarizzo – State/National Member of the Year

 

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As our Zero Waste Coordinator last year, Annalisa was the absolute force behind implementing our most successful waste reduction effort on campus ever- My Tiny Trash- in about half of campus, totaling well over 3000 offices. She took on a different role as our Program Development Specialist this year but continued working on our Zero Waste Commitment which was officially announced by our university Chancellor on Jan 14, 2020! She led our team through the 2019 Game Day Recycling season, possibly our roughest to date with the new beer sales, 8 home football games, Garth Brooks concert at the stadium, no Operations Coordinator and the Recycling Supervisor not coming until the last game of the season. As if Annalisa weren’t doing enough, she has also taken on additional responsibilities with the unexpected departure of one of our AmeriCorps members. She does a significant amount of the purchasing and meeting planning for our office, and also serves as the secretary for the Committee on the Campus Environment. She does most of the heavy lifting for that committee including preparing all of the documents, agendas, meeting minutes, logistics of the meetings etc. In fact, I often wonder how she does it all without any hint of being overloaded. She probably should say “no” more often, but never does, and always gets things done promptly. Annalisa was the strongest voice in shaping the new Office of Sustainability as we worked through the merger and her mark will continue far into the future. She remains the only person who I have offered a position to during the initial interview since I included current AmeriCorps members in that process, and I have not regretted that offer for one second! – Jay Price, UT Sustainability

 

VISTA

Luis Urrea – Servant Leadership

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As our stellar volunteer coordinator, Luis has been an extraordinary addition to the Centro Hispano family. His warm disposition has fostered meaningful relationships with our volunteers and clients, and his passion for service is truly unparalleled. He consistently surpasses expectations through his genuine motivation to uplift those around him. Although we are sad that his term with us has come to an end, we are incredibly excited to see how Luis continues to inspire change in the future. – Brandon Ledford, Centro Hispano de East Tennessee

 

Connie Flachs – Outstanding Achievement

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Connie has been such a wonderful addition to our team. Her creative spirit and talents have brought new energy to our Nourish Kids program in particular, and to our organization in general. She is a joy to work with, and an excellent leader for our volunteers. She has contributed greatly to the rebranding of our Kids program, and responded with new ideas and direction to make sure the program continued in a new format during the pandemic. We are so glad she chose to spend a year serving at Nourish Knoxville! – Charlotte Tolley, Nourish Knoxville

 

Marisa Thomassie – Opportunity Steward

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BBBS of East Tennessee is immensely grateful to have Marisa Thomassie on our team. Marisa, your impact at BBBS has been both immediate and deep… [and] I appreciate the unique, logical, and hard-working approach you bring to our office every day. I’m thrilled to have you on board for a second year! – Brent Waugh, BBBS East Tennessee

Marisa, you are a data-driven efficiency hound who wields EQ and pattern recognition with poise and skill. This last year has been full of challenges, and watching (sometimes remotely) your quick mind solve each puzzle in turn has been inspirational… – Noah McBrayer Jones, BBBS East Tennessee

 

Leah McCord – VISTA Member of the Year

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We interviewed 12 other people and offered the position to 6 of them, who all turned it down for one reason or another, and then we found Leah, and we knew why all the others said no- they just weren’t right for us like Leah has been! Since the role continues to expand with her leadership, the name changed during her ’19-20 year to the more encompassing Social Impact Coordinator position it is now. She gets pulled into all kinds of donations, such as the mattresses and other furniture that were just going to go down with the building when they tore a residence hall down last summer, and the tractor trailer loads of theater set pieces she coordinated to get to high school theaters rather than the dumpster. By the way, our theater now designs their sets to be donated because of her work with them! Leah also led the way for a 2nd VISTA position focused on food insecurity on campus which is beginning Fall 2020 with the Culinary Institute. Her passion for alleviating hunger was finally gaining significant ground and amazing things were happening on campus such as the Chancellor committing to having an on-campus pantry within 30 days, and then COVID-19. We were all wondering when bad things were going to hit because so many positive things were happening in such a short period of time. But, despite it all, Leah continues to find resources to help students and others on campus. She inspires all of us to think about the well-being of others and the planet. – Jay Price, Sustainability Manager

This blog post is a collection of personal reflections and expressions. All opinions represented are those of the author and do not represent the official opinion or views of the Knoxville – Knox County Community Action Committee, CAC AmeriCorps or any other party referenced.