Celebrating Austin’s Bright Spots

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, October 23, 2019

By Jayne Gibson

Austin Aspires

Austin Aspires and Austin Positive Action Coalition are pleased to co-sponsor the Austin Bright Spots Award.

Jayne Gibson

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Recipients of the Bright Spots award are teachers, community members, organizations, or businesses who demonstrate compassion and availability, support and inspiration and welcome and approachability to individuals in Austin. They show care and concern and are engaged and accessible. They provide encouragement or emotional help. They react to others with enjoyment and approval and are friendly and easy to talk to.

Congratulations to each of the nominees for this year’s award. The committee honored the following six nominees at the Positively Austin event held at Ruby Rupner Auditorium on Oct. 10.

• Ms. Deborah Cook from Sumner Elementary School was nominated for creating a positive relationship with students by visiting them at their homes, sending postcards during breaks and donating time to get students involved in the community on weekends. Her Dressing Room project allows students to “shop” for dress outfits prior to the holiday music program so everyone can go up on stage feeling and looking like a million bucks!

• Justice Tabor and Sarah Wermager were honored for the work they have done with the More Than Pink community education program. This program inspired more than 70 girls in grades third through sixth to be true to themselves and live free from societal stereotypes. Justice and Sarah served as Bright Spots to each of these young women, by being someone they could talk to, trust, reach out for support, and learn from. They served as true role models for the participants in the program.

• Mr. Chandler Pratt was recognized for the compassion and calm demeanor he brings to every situation. He gives 100 percent in all aspects of life and makes those around him want to be a better person. As the nomination read, “he would give the shirt off his back if someone needed it.”

• Ms. Danielle Nesvold was recognized for the many hats she wears in our community — all with the common goal of helping others. When children of her neighborhood showed an interest in what she was doing in her garage, she showed them how they too could workout, gain confidence, and live a healthier lifestyle while having fun and supporting others. The gathering of the neighborhood children to workout became known as 10th Street Muscle. Additionally, she has been an active voice to raise awareness around human trafficking, bullying, neighborhood watch and more in our community.

• Ms. Gretchen Erickson’s tireless work to support readers in our community was recognized through the Bright Spots awards. Gretchen does so many things in our community to support literacy for all. One of those include the Reader’s Café that partners with the summer lunch program at IJ Holton. “Gretchen is a consummate volunteer and shows up ready to engage and work. She is a good listener and is always ready and willing to take the time to talk with children.”

Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the Bright Spots Award. Thank you for making our community a brighter place for all.