In 1973, Cesar Chavez was the first recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service honoring his significant impact through his "la causa" (the cause).  Dedicating his life to improving the conditions for Mexican-American farm workers, Cesar Chavez embodied the true spirit of behind the Jefferson Awards. Forty years later, in 2013, Delores Huerta followed in Cesar Chavez's footsteps. While accepting her own Jefferson Award, Delores honored her heritage and Cesar's legacy when she led the room in a rousing chant of "Si, Se Puede" (Yes, We Can). She knew these three simple words, made famous by Cesar, exemplify our power and capacity for change.

As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, Multiplying Good is honored to recognize this year's Jefferson Award Recipients for Outstanding Public Service by and Employee, Kimber J. Nicoletti-Martinez with Purdue University. Like Cesar Chavez and Delores Hureta before her, Kimber saw the disparities around her home state of Indiana. She witnessed how many farm workers were living in abject poverty with limited access to resources. As the backbone to our nation, Kimber knew it was her mission in life to care for farm workers.  

In 2002, she began her work with her local farm worker community organizing a drive for donations of gently used clothing, toys, baby items, and furniture. As the need for donations grew, Kimber expanded her efforts into a year-round donation program serving her greater community.

Over the course of six years, Kimber realized she could create an even greater impact in the lives of families of farm workers and founded the Multicultural Efforts to end Sexual Assault (MESA). Mesa later expanded to include Native/Indigenous, PoC, LGBTQ, immigrants, and people with disabilities. Through offering community-based solutions for healthier communities free of violence, the MESA program resulted from Kimber’s passion to base her work on reciprocal, collaborative, and culturally appropriate working relationships with multiple community stakeholders.

Kimber is a perfect example of how service to others, while honoring one's heritage, helps individuals discover their true potential. Service is also about coming together for good and the idea that any individual can help shape the world we want for our children. As we reflect on this day, let's not forgot "Si, Se Puede"….Yes, We Can!