AUSTIN, Texas — KVUE, along with our sponsors ABC Home and Commercial Services and Henna Chevrolet, is proud to announce the winners of the 33rd annual Five Who Care and Five Kids Who Care community service awards.
Every year, we honor 10 people in the community who give their time and talents to help others. With different professions, different ages, and different backgrounds, these 10 extraordinary people are changing lives in our local community every day.
This is the second year the event took place virtually on KVUE's YouTube Channel due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here are the 2021 Five Who Care community service awards recipients:
Keneisha “KJ” Johnson founded Rebels for Humanity six years ago, after she was released from the Travis County Detention Center.
Her inspiration for helping others came from her experience with homeless people who said they got arrested to be put in jail since that was better than their living situation.
“They would do something silly, just to come back to jail to have showers, to eat, [to have a] place to eat,” Johnson said.
Rebels for Humanity feeds the homeless through the months of September to March. Everything provided – from food to hygienic products – comes directly out of Johnson’s pocket.
Johnson has also spent the past eight years working with Inside Out Prison Ministry, helping those who are incarcerated find hope for a new and better life.
Johnson was this year's most-nominated recipient, with 27 nominations.
Susanna Woody is a Del Valle ISD Trustee. She has been serving her community and school district for over 10 years. Woody has worked tirelessly to earn the trust of teachers and staff across the district.
Woody wanted to change the district from within. She began implementing new programs and providing the best education possible for students of Del Valle.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure [the students] don’t suffer like we did when we were growing up,” Woody said.
In 2019, Del Valle ISD won the H-E-B School Board of the Year Award.
Woody has also worked with the Del Valle Community Coalition for over 10 years. The group seeks to improve the quality of life for those living in Del Valle.
Woody’s focus is education, but they care about more than that. The Del Valle Community Coalition also focuses on the health of their community. Woody and her team have been critical in providing care during the pandemic.
Del Valle had limited access to testing kits, so the Coalition acted fast. Their community was the highest positive testing area in Austin. They did distributions of masks and hand sanitizer, and worked to get their community vaccinated.
Sheila Hawkins-Bucklew is the founder Hawkins-Bucklew Jewelry Designs, and Showroom 808. Showroom 808 opened in November 2019 at the Domain Northside.
The store helps creative women entrepreneurs grow and sustain their businesses.
“We are trying to economically empower women so they can live their dream full time, and support their own family. That’s why it’s so important for me to uplift this generation,” Hawkins-Bucklew said.
She hopes that Showroom 808 will help change the narrative for minority entrepreneurs and open new doors of opportunity for minority-owned businesses.
Shirley Cannon is a retired Westview Middle School teacher. She has been an inspiration to generations of children.
Teaching kids for 36 years, she has devoted her life to seeing these students succeed.
In 2009, Cannon founded Speak Up, Speak Out. A service-based program for middle school students to serve their community.
Some of those projects include community gardens to feed the homeless community, English classes for Spanish-speaking students and more.
Now retired, she continues to volunteer with students through Speak Up, Speak Out and their school’s leadership program, WEB (Westview Exemplifies Brilliance).
“I’d like to think they’ll remember all the history I taught them, but I know they won’t,” Cannon said. “But I know that what I taught them with Speak Up, Speak Out, that’s a lifelong lesson. My goal with this program is to inspire my kids to empower their community.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country in 2020, Charlie Tijerina started providing meals for frontline health care workers.
Tijerina’s fiancée, Susan, is a nurse at Seton Northwest Hospital.
“[Frontline workers] were swamped with work, they were away from their family and exhausted. I saw it firsthand,” Tijerina said.
Tijerina was inspired to help people by his father.
“As long as I can remember, my dad was the guy that helped other people,” Tijerina said.
He wanted to find a way to help his fiancée and the other healthcare workers during this difficult time. He reached out to local restaurants and businesses for donations to the hospital staff. He raised over $4,000 during the course of the pandemic.
“We just blew up. We’ve fed every hospital in Austin,” Tijerina said.
Round Rock Donuts, Mr. Gatti’s Pizza and Rudy’s BBQ are just some of the restaurants that donated food to all the hospitals across the Austin area.
Tijerina continues to personally deliver food to the hospitals every Tuesday and Thursday.
Dimi Poulos is a senior at Luling High School.
“Volunteering to me, is so much bigger than myself,” she said.
Poulos is involved in Key Club, Student Council, Girl Scouts, Band, Theater and Varsity Cheer. In 2020, she received the Student of the Year Award from Caldwell County. She also participates in Luling High School’s Career and Technical Education Program (CTE) where she is learning to work with kids.
“There’s been experiences where people said I don’t look like a cheerleader, which made me want to do cheer more,” Poulos explained. “I think that’s why I do a lot of work with kids. As long as you stay true to yourself, and you’re happy with yourself, you can do anything.”
“Being a teacher means I can impact kids the way my teachers impacted me,” Poulos added.
As she enters her senior year, she hopes to continue to grow as an educator for children.
Jadan Lee Williams
Last year as a part of the Texas Advocacy Project, Jadan Lee Williams raised over $1,000 and spent his free time helping to raise awareness about teen dating violence.
"I made a video, and it talked about the different types of dating violence," Williams said. "Next thing I know I raised $300 in one day."
His family played a key role in his inspiration to serve others. It all began with a morning serving some of Austin's most underprivileged citizens. His family would go under the Interstate 35 bridge and serve breakfast and lunch. The feeling he got helping them made him realize this is what he wants to do.
Raising awareness and for dating violence, and serving those experiencing homelessness was just the start for Williams. He is now serving with Unabridged Academy to help equip the next generation to succeed in all aspects of life.
"I think the way society is supposed to work, is if you can help someone you should," Williams said.
At just 4 years old, Harper Steely has developed a passion for helping those in her community. She brings packages to local police officers in her neighborhood to help them cool off while on the job.
"She would always want to give the police officer's Gatorades, since they'd be tired of catching 'bad guys,'" Steely's mother, Maika, told KVUE.
Steely has also recognized the need to help the homeless population in Austin. She is small but mighty. Steely is already learning how to build homes for the homeless out of paper towel rolls with her father.
"[Harper] noticed the tents, and who was in the tents." Steely's father, Will, said.
"Well I want to build them a place to live, they should have a place to live," Steely told her father.
Brooklyn Pryor is a second grader with a big heart. She loves helping young kids her age.
At church, she learned about the Angel Tree, an opportunity where she can help families in need receive presents on Christmas.
Pryor knew the kids would feel sad that they weren't able to have presents on Christmas. So, she decided to do something about it.
Pryor created her own crayon business to raise money to purchase gifts for the Angel Tree.
"I started doing crayons because I knew no one else would think of that idea," Pryor said.
She was able to buy over 80 gifts for the kids on the Angel Tree. She plans to continue her business this year and donate all her money to charity, and encourages everyone to participate with the Angel Tree.
Reid Johnson is a senior at Dripping Springs High School. She was recently chosen as one of 60 students worldwide to participate in the FBI National Youth Leadership Program.
Johnson also volunteers with Project Beloved, where she works with the organization and survivors of abuse to change the narrative about sexual assault.
"It's an organization that empowers survivors to find their voices," Johnson said.
Johnson worked on beloved bundles which are kits with supplies, that can be given to the men and women that leave police stations with dignity after reporting their assault.
Johnson hopes to help Project Beloved bring "soft interview rooms" to the Austin area. These will provide survivors with a comfortable, safe space to interview with authorities instead of traditional police interrogation rooms.
Congratulations to all the winners!
You can watch this year's Five Who Care award show on YouTube.