On October 4, 2023, Multiplying Good held the 51st Jefferson Awards at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York. This signature event is one of the ways we publicly celebrate outstanding individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to their communities through thoughtful, creative, and impactful service.

The night was filled with inspiring stories of everyday heroes from diverse fields, ranging from education to healthcare and social justice. Supporters in attendance watched and heard stories about the power of collective goodwill. With every acknowledgment, we were reminded of the impact that individuals can make when they come together for the greater good.

The evening was emceed by Marc Mullins, the Emmy-award-winning anchor and reporter with WRTV Indianapolis, and began with comments from Luke Sharp. Luke is one of five 2023 recipients of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for Outstanding Service Benefitting Local Communities.

Luke created the Adaptive Surf Project in Horry County, SC after a friend and fellow surfer was tragically injured in an accident that left him a quadriplegic. For the past ten years, Luke has organized events that have allowed people with a range of disabilities to surf on specially-built surfboards and reconnect with the ocean or experience the thrill of surfing. This includes designing specialty surfboards, installing beach matting, and even training adaptive surf teams. In addition, Luke now serves on the board of Coastal Adaptive Sports, which facilitates nearly 100 similar events a year including adaptive surfing, adaptive biking, wheelchair basketball, track and field events, and many more social events. At the end of his remarks, Luke pledged to put a beach wheelchair on every pier on the East Coast from Maine to Key West.

As the evening unfolded, we heard from Luke’s fellow Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award recipients; Michelle Vacha, Reverend Roland Gordon, and Mariah Calagione. Jenna Shaffer was unable to attend.

The second Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award recipient Michelle Vacha is a dental hygienist and shared her motivations for leaving her private practice and starting the nonprofit Senior Mobile Dental in 2006. Her goal was to provide heavily discounted dental services to nursing homes and seniors so that they would be able to access affordable dental care through her nonprofit. Since then, Michelle has seen a greater need for individuals of all ages in need of similar care. She has worked to establish two additional dental offices called Community Dental Health and now her offices are fully equipped with dentists, oral surgeons, denture technicians, dental hygienists, and supporting staff that provide a wide range of dental services to low-income individuals while still providing high-quality care. Michelle was nominated by Media Partner KOAA.

The third Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award recipient Reverend Roland Gordon. Reverend Gordon, or Rev G as he prefers to be called, has been at the head of Ingleside Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, California for over 40 years. When he first posted a picture of Muhammad Ali on the wall of the church’s gym, he had no idea that this image would be the first of thousands and would become the largest Black historical mural of its kind in the nation.

He started “Ingleside Community Center,” an afterschool nonprofit at the church in 1986 where Kindergarteners up through eighth graders could come to the center for basketball, tutoring, and technology programs. He also established a food bank, which for 16 years has been feeding a hundred people a month with grocery donations from local stores. Reverend Gordon was nominated by Media Partner KPIX-TV / KCBS AM RADIO.

Our fourth Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award recipient was awarded to Mariah Calagione. Mariah co-founded Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Delaware with her husband Sam. As Dogfish Head grew in popularity and size, Mariah knew that she wanted to find impactful ways to help her neighbors and the community around her. Not only does she serve on local school boards and volunteers with a variety of local organizations, but she also serves as a producer for the nonprofit Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival which supports the arts in her community. Most recently, she founded the Red Wagon Calagione Family Foundation, which has granted over $3.7 million dollars to organizations and people in the community.  Through her fundraising efforts and her involvement with various organizations throughout Delaware, Mariah has made a tremendous impact for people across her state. Mariah was nominated by Media Partner Delaware Today/Delaware Business Times.

Jenna Shaffer started 91 Place, a transitional home for unhoused youth ages 18-24, as not just a place for those without shelter, but a place for them to establish or reestablish healthy connections with others. Through transitional housing, life-skills training, mentorship, and workforce-development programs, paired with mental health services and trauma-responsive care, 91 Place residents receive wraparound services to provide a comprehensive response to housing insecurity. Youth are welcomed into a caring family and invited on a healing journey to empower them to become independent, contributing members of society, so that they can turn away from unhealthy coping mechanisms and break the cycle of poverty.

Jenna Shaffer would have received the award in person this year for her incredible work at her transitional housing program, alongside other recipients who traveled to New York for the Annual Jefferson Award ceremony, but she had a unique circumstance just days before – welcoming a beautiful baby boy named Josiah into her home. Our host for the Jefferson Awards, Marc Mullins, graciously accepted the award on her behalf.

Our 2023 recipient of the Jefferson Award for Outstanding Public Service by an Employee was awarded to an individual who performs extraordinary public service outside the workplace.  As someone living with Lupus, Sharnae Smith knows all too well the impact this incurable and debilitating disease can have on those living with the same diagnosis. Sharnae chose to turn her pain into purpose and began advocating for those facing hardships related to their Lupus diagnosis. From medical debt and access to vital medications to resources needed for minorities to participate in critical clinical trials, she set out to dedicate her life to advocating and fundraising for better options for her Lupus community. Sharnae's recent lobbying in Congress provided the Lupus Foundation of America and the University of Alabama an opportunity to conduct a clinical trial for African American Lupus patients in Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, and Kentucky to better understand the effects that medications have on Lupus patients. Sharnae is an employee at Booz Allen Hamilton.

The Students In Action Gold Award was presented to the Ashley Ridge High School Students in Action Team in recognition of their service work in their Dorchester County, South Carolina community. The Ashley Ridge team was acknowledged for their project where they collaborated with local elementary schools to host a mentoring event for fifth graders.

Their event reached over 400 students via lessons on friendships, conflict resolution, growth mindset, and success in school. By interacting with high school students, answering their questions, and engaging in activities, the fifth graders were able to ease their worries heading into the difficult transition to middle school. During the school year, their team engaged in 1,300 hours of service and impacted a total of 1,482 individuals through various projects and fundraisers.