Titans to recognize Tennessee's top volunteers

The four finalists for the 2008 Community Quarterback Award announced with the winner receiving a $10,000 grant to his/her agency from the Titans Foundation.

NASHVILLE, TN – January 20, 2008 -- The Tennessee Titans will recognize Tennessee's top volunteers through the eighth annual Titans Community Quarterback Award program to be held this Friday, Jan. 23, 2009.

The Titans Community Quarterback Award program is a statewide competition that recognizes outstanding volunteers in the state of Tennessee, ages 13 years old and up.  This program honors individuals who exemplify leadership, dedication, and a commitment to improving the communities in which they live through their volunteer service at a non-profit organization.

The Titans Community Quarterback Award winner will receive a $10,000 grant for his or her agency from the Titans Foundation.  In addition, the runner-up will receive a $5,000 grant from the Titans Foundation and two semi-finalists will each earn $2,500 for their respective charities, bringing the total money given by the Titans Foundation to $20,000. This year's donation raising the total of grants distributed in this program to $184,000 since the program began in 2000.

While we received hundreds of nominations across the state, these top four finalists captured the hearts of the judges and they are each to be commended for their unwavering commitment and service to our communities. During the awards ceremony, the Titans will name their 2008 Community Quarterback Award Winner.
The 2008 Award Finalists to be recognized are (In Alphabetical Order)

 Name                          City/State                                    Non-Profit Organization

Jeannie Butler            Nashville, TN                            Annabelle's Wish  

Diane Harsha              Franklin, TN                              YWCA of Nashville & Middle TN

Wayne Howell             Nashville, TN                            Franktown Open Hearts   

Dan Onkst                  Murfreesboro, TN                     A.B.L.E. Youth, Inc.

The following is a brief description of the finalists' (in alphabetical order) volunteer efforts as stated in their nomination forms:

Jeannie Butler of Annabelle's Wish
Jeannie is the founder and also the current volunteer executive director.  The mission of Annabelle's Wish is to provide basic necessities – and a chance for life – to orphaned children.  After the May 12, 2008 earthquake in China, she personally took 1,400 lbs of supplies to many of the 4,000 orphans living on the streets.  In her volunteer role, she speaks to civic groups, recruits volunteers and does fundraising events on behalf of the organization.  She is very active in assisting American families with the legalities of adopting children from China.  More importantly, she has saved the lives of many children left in what is called "the dying room" of orphanages where injured or ill children are left with little or no medical care by arranging medical care for them which literally saved their lives and helped them be adopted by American families.

Diane Harsha – YWCA
Since 1898, the YWCA (Young Women's Christian Association) has provided services that help women become better educated, more employable, and able to live free of poverty and violence.  The YWCA provides free GED education to men and women and mentor middle school girls in some of Nashville's toughest neighborhoods.  It is the vision of the YWCA of Nashville to focus on women and girls who desire to create a better quality of life for themselves and/or their families; to achieve self-sufficiency; and to increase their financial strength.  For 25 years, Diane Harsha has volunteered for domestic violence-related causes.  Diane has spent the last ten years as a volunteer of the YWCA of Nashville, devoting more than 2,000 hours of her time to making the Weaver Domestic Violence Shelter a safe haven for thousands of battered women and their children.  Diane gained compassion for victims of domestic violence when she served as a police officer in Alabama.  Today, Diane is a FBI agent and terrorism expert and her career in assessing and defusing dangerously hostile life and death situations makes her a compassionate, observant, unobtrusive and stellar volunteer.

Wayne Howell of Franktown Open Hearts
This organization exists to bring hope to Williamson County's inner-city youth through mentoring programs, academic support, recreation, an active college preparation program, and in teaching critical life skills.  Young students from low-income homes in Franklin (mostly African-American students) participate in the program which includes activities three nights a week and on Sunday mornings.   A hot meal and transportation is always included for the participants.  Howell is one of the founders of Franktown Open Hearts and currently serves as the CCM (Chief Cheerleader and Motivator).  He is the "heart and soul" of this organization.  He is an active board member of the group and also their "spokesperson" throughout the Williamson County community.  He has been involved in this vital, life-changing process since he helped co-found Franktown in 2001.

Dan Onkst, A.B.L.E. Youth
ABLE Youth (Athletes Building Life Experiences) teaches children in wheelchairs ages 3-22 how to live healthy, happy, spiritual and independent lives through mentoring, tutoring and the opportunity to participate in wheelchair sports.  These children learn to work hard, believe in themselves and help others.  The program emphasizes it is not the circumstances that matter, but what we do with them.  Dan Onkst has been in instrumental volunteer for ABLE Youth for the past seven years and is whatever or whoever the organizations asks him to be. Dan is the coach of the traveling wheelchair basketball team; he is a volunteer at any and all events such as Super Sports Saturday, the Christmas party and all fundraising events.  He is a chaperone for kids on out of town trips; he's the chauffer for all the kids who need rides to events and he drives the team from town to town in the van during basketball season.   He helps load and unload the equipment trailer at least 2-3 times per month.  He is always willing to help whenever the need arises.
The 2007 Titans Community Quarterback Award Winner was Bill Boss, 71, of Tullahoma, Tenn.  Boss earned the $10,000 grant from Titans owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. and the Tennessee Titans Foundation for his non-profit organization, Hands-On Science Center in Tullahoma.  Boss co-founded Hands-On Science Center in 1995 and has volunteered there since that date.

Previous Titans Community Quarterback Award winners:

2007- Bill Boss, Hands-On Science Center, Tullahoma                           
2006- Mary McEwen, Bethlehem Center, Nashville

2005- Sondra Clark, Christ Presbyterian Academy, Nashville

2004- Mary Cunningham, Meals on Wheels, Kingsport

2003- Wayne Watson, Colonial Heights United Methodist Church, Kingsport

2002- Lynn Dunwoody, Auxiliary Probation Service, Memphis

2001- Anna Sternheimer, Nashville Family Shelter, Nashville

2000- Georgeanna Chapman, Martha O'Bryan Center, Nashville

The 2008 Titans Community Quarterback Award Winner will be announced this Friday, January 23, 2009 with results being posted on www.titansonline.com

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