Category Archives: Swarsensky Humanitarian Award 2015

2020 Manfred Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award To Be Presented November 18

Dr. Floyd Rose was chosen to receive this year’s Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award for his decades-long contribution to education in Madison.  The November 18th Rotary meeting will be allocated to this award, and Floyd Rose will be presenting the Rotary program that day.  We look forward to his presentation on November 18. 

This year’s Swarsensky Award Selection Committee was impressed by the caliber of this year’s nominees, and below is a listing and brief summary of each of these candidates who are also building bridges in our community:      

Paul T. Ashe:  If you wonder, “what can one person do?” think of Paul T. Ashe. In 1979, while he was in his mid-20s, he began distributing sandwiches to people in need out of a small Christian bookstore above a convenience store on Gorham Street.  That was a band-aid on a systemic problem.  From that, he formed a partnership with St. Paul’s University Catholic Center on State Street to secure space for a noon meal.  He reached out to leaders of a wide range of faith communities to recruit small teams of volunteers to cook and serve balanced hot meals.  Soon more than 50 faith communities were participating.  This became the Community Meal Program that welcomes strangers.  The Community Meal Program grew to meet the growing needs of the community.  Through the benevolence of the community, and without any government support, a commercial building was purchased and rehabilitated and became Luke House which serves guests 9 meals each week—4 noon meals and 5 evening meals.  Here meals are shared at round tables—family style.  After Mr. Ashe’s retirement, the program remains, as the model of dignified hospitality that Paul established. This nomination submitted by Ernie Stetenfeld.

Dr. Patricia Tellez-Giron Salazar:  Dr. Patricia Tellez-Giron Salazar immigrated to the United States in 1993 and settled in Madison.  She practices medicine at the Wingra Clinic and serves a very diverse and underserved population and reaches out into the community to help build bridges for the Latinx community.  She serves people, primarily Latinx, with limited access to healthcare services by maintaining extensive involvement across a variety of different healthcare organizations that include counseling at Agrace about end of life care issues; educating about nutrition and healthy eating with Centro Hispano, healthcare and family planning; serving as medical director for the Latino health summit, Teen Health Bash, and chronic disease summit; and caring for the geriatric population.  She also supports other organizations in the community including Latino advisory council to the United Way; Chair of Dane County Latino Health Council; advisory to UW-Madison professional association for Latinos for medical school; and the Metropolitan Madison School District Multilingual Guiding Coalition.  This nomination submitted by Ron Luskin.

Becky Steinhoff:  Becky Steinhoff is recognized for her vision to address an underserved area of Madison with a community center—and with her belief that people will come together to do the right thing.  Through her tenacity, the eastside of Madison has the Goodman Community Center.  She found supporters and philanthropists and marshalled other organization to create a state-of-the-art community center from the bones of vacant historical industrial buildings.  She grew the size of the staff from 3 to more than 100 to meet the needs of the 35,000 people who use the Goodman Community Center.  Becky and her staff maintain a safe place where conflict is addressed honestly and in good faith—and joy reigns.  Becky retires after 31 years of leadership, but her legacy and the foundation of a healthy community center survives.  This nomination submitted by Linda Baldwin O’Hern.

Nancy Young:  Nancy Young exemplifies volunteerism.  As a professional mental health counselor skilled in conflict resolution, she uses her training in any way that it is needed.  She has consulted with community adolescent programs and worked on women’s and poverty issues to help women achieve their potential as leaders, and she is active in several capacities in her church.  Her most profound humanitarian contributions have been her service to the American Red Cross where she has been deployed to 14 national disasters that include multiple mass casualties.  The American Red Cross selected Nancy as one of only four mental health professionals in the country to be deployed to the Sandy Hook shooting.  Nancy and her husband Ed host children of Chernobyl each year who come to Madison for relief from the aftermath of the contamination of the nuclear accident in 1986.  In addition, they have opened their home to host numerous international students attending the UW.  She also volunteers for the Madison Symphony Orchestra League and serving on its Board.  This nomination submitted by Mary Helen Becker.

Christine Hodge Receives 2015 Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award

–introduced by Mario Mendoza on November 11, 2015; photos by John Bonsett-Veal and Loretta Himmelsbach

Christine Hodge pictured here with Club President Ellsworth Brown

Christine Hodge pictured here with Club President Ellsworth Brown

This year’s recipient of the Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award is Christine Hodge, who was nominated by Dawn Crim.  Christine Hodge came to Madison from Arkansas in 1971, along with her three children.  The people of Mt. Zion Baptist Church on Madison’s south side quickly embraced her and her family—a gesture that, as you will see, she reciprocated later in life.

Soon after arriving in Madison, Ms. Hodge—who had previously been a teacher in Arkansas—became a teacher for the Madison Metropolitan School District.  She taught for 26 years.  She then served as assistant principal at LaFollette High School and later as principal of Allis Elementary.  She served the District for 35 years before retiring.  Following her retirement, and as referenced in a news story about her, Ms. Hodge “lounged around exactly zero days before throwing herself into her next project.”  She took her energy and experience as an educator and administrator and founded the Mt. Zion Academic Learning Center.

The Mt. Zion Academic Learning Center is an after-school program affiliated with Mt. Zion Baptist Church.  Ms. Hodge tirelessly enlisted the help of many in our community to transform what was a dark basement at Mt. Zion Church into a bright, cheerful and deserving learning space.  She raised funds and recruited volunteer tutors. The Center’s program is focused on fostering academic excellence for children in grades K-6th, primarily residing on Madison’s south side.  Parents pay nothing; all that is asked of them is their commitment to Ms. Hodge’s program.  The program runs three days a week, and about 20 students participate regularly.  Volunteer tutors and mentors assist the children.  They leave with their homework done, and done right.  Ms. Hodge tells each child her goal:  “Be the smartest kid in your class.”  The Center is credited with improving the academic performance of its students.

Consistent with Rabbi Swarsensky’s example, Ms. Hodge has helped build bridges.  She has built bridges between homes and schools.  She has helped parents establish effective communications and problem-solving with teachers and District staff.  And her contributions toward children’s academic excellence advance the cause of putting an end to the educational achievement gap in our area.  That gap is an obstacle to full participation in and enjoyment of life in our community.  Ms. Hodge’s efforts help build a bridge toward the promise of that full participation and enjoyment—one student at a time.

Ms. Hodge has devoted nearly ten years to the Academic Learning Center.   It is clear that the warm welcome Ms. Hodge received from Mt. Zion Church when she first arrived in Madison many years ago planted a seed in her, which has now blossomed into the this praiseworthy legacy.

Christine Hodge pictured here with Swarsensky Award Committee Chair Mario Mendoza

Christine Hodge pictured here with Swarsensky Award Committee Chair Mario Mendoza

Our congratulations to Christine on receiving the Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award for 2015.

Along with this award, a $2,500 grant is provided to an organization of the recipient’s choice, and Christine selected the Links Foundation, Madison Chapter

Our thanks to Mario Mendoza, chair, and members of this year’s Manfred Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award Committee in organizing this year’s award presentation.

swarsenskymanfredThe Manfred E. Swarsensky Humanitarian Service Award was established in 1982 and identifies individuals who have, through their voluntary efforts, made a particularly outstanding contribution to the humanitarian service in the greater Madison community, in the tradition so well exemplified by the life of Rabbi Swarsensky.   The award-winning documentary video, “A Portrait:  Rabbi Manfred Swarsensky,” that was created and produced by Rotarian Dick Goldberg with assistance by Wisconsin Public Television, provides background on Manfred Swarsensky and can be viewed on YouTube, and the Rotary office also has a copy of the video for any member wishing to view it.