2012 Award Winners
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ALUMNI)
When he was 7 years old, Mark Hansen was hit by a car while riding his bicycle. The accident left him in a coma for eight days, paralyzed the left side of his body and caused seizures for the next nine years. He had to learn to walk and talk again. His mother was told by a psychologist that he would never be college material, and his doctor said he would never be able to drive a car. He was on medication for nine years and often was teased by students. Hansen says it was that experience that makes him relate to teens' struggles in adolescence. It also is the driving force behind his commitment to helping and empowering youth.
Hansen has been an active member of the community. He served two terms on the School Board of Palm Beach County from 2002 to 2008. He is a board member of the Youth Empowerment Committee of Palm Beach County, chairman of the Board for the American Association of Caregiving Youth and a board member of Communities in Schools of Palm Beach County. He also has served as a past board member of the American Cancer Society and the Florida Atlantic University Alumni Association board and is a member of the Greater Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce.
After his mother died of cancer in 2006, he established the Lucille Hansen Education and Cancer Research Fund through the National Christian Community Foundation of South Florida. Through that fund, he has provided for the past three years support for First Generation in College Scholarships for students at Palm Beach State College.
He has authored three books to help youth - "An Ark for Learning," "Success 101 for Teens: 7 Traits for a Winning Life," and "Success 101 for Teens: Dollars and Sense for a Winning Financial Life," which will be released nationally in March by Paragon House.
Hansen, who received his A.A. degree from then Palm Beach Community College in 1991 and his B.A. degree from FAU in 1993, has been a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker for 17 years, specializing in the oceanfront luxury condominium market in Boca Raton. He has been consistently recognized nationally in the top three percent in sales with Coldwell Banker Previews International.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (INDIVIDUAL)
Carlton "Ricky" Wade
Ricky Wade has always embodied an entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of giving. At 14, he formed his first business to conduct/ host special events and parties. While attending Excelsior College in his native Jamaica, he started a landscape firm to earn money for tuition. Upon graduation, he returned to the U.S. to pursue a career, landing a job as an assistant manager for a McDonald's in Miami.
Nearly 20 years later, Wade's latest enterprise, "B"ing the Best, is the franchise for 11 McDonald's restaurants in Palm Beach County. Wade's business presence and personal involvement enriches the community. Committed to reinforcing positive lifestyle habits, he works closely with organizations such as Junior Achievement to help underprivileged and inner-city youth. He credits his mother for teaching him the value of helping others. "My mother instilled in me the importance of being involved and giving back to my community because that is the true definition of success," he said.
Wade has also worked with the School District of Palm Beach County in reinforcing the need for kids to have an active lifestyle by participating in programs such as the Kid's Festival conducted annually by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission and the Kids-K run that proceeds the Palm Beach Marathon.
He currently serves as the vice president of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida and is an advisor to The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County. He is a board member of the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, United Way of Palm Beach County, The Arc of Palm Beach County, ASPIRA of Florida, Palm Beach State College Foundation, Urban League of Palm Beach County, The Palm Beach County Sheriff's Foundation and Boy Scouts of America/Gulf Stream Council Executive Board. He is the vice-president of the National Black McDonald's Operators Association East Division and treasurer of the Palm Beach McDonald's Marketing Association.
For his volunteer efforts, Wade was honored in 2007 with an invitation to the White House to celebrate African American History Month. Later that year he also received the African American Diaspora History Maker of Tomorrow Award. In 2009 he was the recipient of the Community Giant Award from the Inner City Youth Golfers' Inc. and the Large Business Leader Award from the Black Chamber of Commerce of Palm Beach County. He is married to Lissette and has three children.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (STUDENT)
D'atra Franklin's mother died when she was a young child, requiring her to take care of herself from an early age. Moving from relative to relative and friend to friend forced her to become self-sufficient to survive and eventually go into foster care as a teen.
After aging out of foster care at 18, she found out about an organization called Florida Youth Shine (FYS), a statewide, youth-led organization that meets regularly to identify the challenges and successes of life within the child welfare system. Florida Youth Shine members also work to educate the public on the issues pertaining to foster youth and often give voice to a voiceless population. At Franklin's first meeting, she had so many ideas on how to change the foster care system that she became empowered by the prospect of being able to bring about positive change.
Through efforts with her peers, FYS has successfully advocated on behalf of several Florida foster care bills that have been signed into law. Just a few years ago, FYS played a big role in the passing of two bills that provided foster youth their right to access their educational records and speed up the school enrollment process. Over the past year, Franklin has played an active role in FYS's drive to support the redesign of the state's Independent Living program that works to support all former foster youth from the age of 18 to 23 years old. In Palm Beach County, she works to create a community for other teens and young adults to come together to share their experiences, learn life skills, and become leaders in their own right. FYS Palm Beach meets once a month to discuss issues like education and normalcy and to learn about upcoming bills that directly affect those growing up in foster care. As a chapter representative, she travels the state sharing the stories of her peers in Palm Beach County, and is often asked to speak with the media and appear on television and in newspaper articles.
Florida's Children First (the parent organization of FYS) honored her at its 2010 Palm Beach Advocacy Awards reception. She has also volunteered with the Adopt a Family organization and continues to advocate for foster children as well as all disadvantaged youth. She completed her Associate in Arts degree in the fall from Palm Beach State and is now enrolled at Florida Atlantic University to pursue a bachelor's degree in education. Her goal is to become a high school history teacher and eventually a guidance counselor.
LEADERSHIP AWARD (ORGANIZATION)
El Sol - Jupiter's Neighborhood Resource Center
Prior to the creation of El Sol in 2006, there were no services for immigrants in the town of Jupiter and no health or social services for low income people in northern Palm Beach County. There also was much misunderstanding and some hatred directed toward the growing immigrant population.
El Sol was created to address issues stemming from the presence of large numbers of workers congregating on Center Street to seek work in an "open air labor market," but it quickly became a center for various services for low income people in Jupiter. In its five years of existence, El Sol has contributed to solving the local problem by creating a safe space for workers and employers to connect.
It also has integrated immigrants into the community by providing English and literacy classes as well as training in code issues and financial literacy. It coordinates health services, provides vocational training programs for workers and hosts an annual community service program that tie into the values that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. firmly stood for during his life: "Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?" El Sol tries to answer this question by action every day.
El Sol provides a place for the food pantry of C.R.O.S. Ministries, and it offers its members breakfast and lunch seven days a week, 360 days a year. It also provides free legal assistance and an art program that ends with an Annual Art Fest, where artists, many from the immigrant community, are able to showcase their talents. It has offered a film series and other cultural programs. Most of this work is done through volunteers. Their interaction with the immigrant community has led to a new understanding of and interest in one community by another.
El Sol workers have given back to the community through participation as volunteers for community projects with partners such as Habitat for Humanity, Paint Your Heart Out and Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches as well as a 2010 United Way project to assist the Thelma Pittman School in Jupiter with building repairs.
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