Skip To Content
Back to News List

ESL Jefferson Award Winners Highlight Rochester’s Volunteer Spirit

Five Local Volunteers Honored

Rochester N.Y. — ESL Federal Credit Union, in partnership with 10 NBC, named five local heroes 2017 Jefferson Award winners. The ESL Jefferson Awards are part of the national Jefferson Award Foundation which strives to build a culture of service in communities across the country. Five Rochester-area heroes are being recognized with this honor by ESL Federal Credit Union and 10 NBC.

“Congratulations to these five local volunteers who were recently recognized by ESL Federal Credit Union and News 10 NBC WHEC with the 2017 ESL Jefferson Awards,” according to Faheem Masood, President & CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union. “The ESL Jefferson Award winners exhibit outstanding caring and go above and beyond for the betterment of our community. Each of these recipients deserve recognition and honor for all that they continue to do to support those in need in our community.”

(left-to-right): Faheem Masood, President/CEO, ESL Federal Credit Union; Dan Lill, Yana Khashper, Richard Keene, Mary Kate Brushafer, Salvatore Gerbino, Jefferson Award Recipients respectively; and Derek Dalton, VP/General Manager, News 10NBC

ESL Jefferson Award Winners:

Salvatore Gerbino
As a retired sergeant with the Gates police department, Sal Gerbino continues to serve his community even after retirement. Beginning in 1980, Sal coordinated law enforcement torch runs in Rochester raising more than $2,000,000. He was instrumental in coordinating the first-ever Polar Plunge that raised thousands of dollars to help offset the cost that the Special Olympians had to bear to attend the Special Olympic Games. This fund-raising event has become a local tradition for the past 19 years and is attended by thousands of participants.

Dan Lill
In 2001, Bill D’Anza was serving lunch at St. Joseph’s House of Hospitality in the city when he was asked if he could do some minor bike repair for a guest. Bill willingly responded, and his services soon drew a crowd to St. Joe’s parking lot. Bill promised to return the next week, and continued, eventually forming R Community Bikes (RCB) in 2005 with Dan Lill. RCB began receiving invitations to many community events and visibility increased, as did volunteers and donations of parts and bikes. RCB has grown from that initial bike repair to distributing more than 17,121 bikes and repairing 20,000 free-of-charge to the Rochester Community. Each donated bike is inspected for safety and is given away with a helmet and lock. Bikes are frequently the most affordable means of transportation to jobs, schools, churches, etc. at local social service agencies.

Mary Kate Brushafer
When she was 10 years old, Mary Kate experienced an unimaginable tragedy at Christmas time: the death of a parent. The following year, Mary Kate wanted to ensure families with children who have suffered a traumatic loss of a parent or child are given the opportunity to enjoy the holiday season. To raise the necessary funds, she found jobs, such as raking leaves, babysitting, and cleaning cars. The funds were used to purchase gifts for these families and were left anonymously to be opened Christmas morning. In 2011, Mary Kate’s vision transformed into the Santa Hat Society, and in 2014 became a non-profit. She is now 16 and CEO of the organization. Families are identified and helped through an anonymous third-party advocate called "Elves." These advocates gather the children’s wish lists and deliver the wrapped gifts prior to Christmas morning.

Richard Keane
Upon retiring, Rick knew he wanted to volunteer his time and give back to his community. His first wife had passed away from cancer, and he knew first-hand how trying chemotherapy treatments could be. He spends many days at Better Day Buddies where he gets to spend time with the kids, their parents, and the hospital staff who confront diseases, day after day.

Yana Khashper
Yana is co-founder and director of ROCovery Fitness, a non-profit dedicated to improving the quality of life for those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Not only has she worked salary-free for the past two years, she has touched (and saved) the lives of countless individuals and their family members. ROCovery Fitness is a peer-driven, peer-led organization. Yana has worked tirelessly with treatment centers, politicians, community organizations, families, and those fighting the disease of addiction. ROCovery has found a home and is in the process of renovating an old firehouse located on Dewey Ave that will be New York State’s first sober, active community center. The facility will continue to support healing and recovery by providing a sober place for those seeking safety and fun.

The ESL Jefferson Awards are part of the national Jefferson Award Foundation which strives to build a culture of service in communities across the country. Founded in 1972 by well-known public servants including former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Jefferson Awards are the country’s longest standing and most prestigious honor of its kind. One winner of the local ESL Jefferson Awards is selected each year to attend the Jefferson Awards National Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

About ESL Federal Credit Union

Founded by George Eastman in 1920, ESL Federal Credit Union is a full-service financial institution with $6.1 billion in assets. The locally-owned financial institution employs more than 735 people in Rochester, New York, and includes approximately 330,000 members worldwide.

The company has now appeared on the Great Place to Work® Best Small & Medium Workplaces list for six years (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2011, and 2010). Access to the credit union includes 20 branch locations and more than 40 ATM locations, locally-based telephone and Internet chat centers, and online and mobile banking channels. The company is headquartered at 225 Chestnut Street in Rochester and can be found on the Internet at

For more information, contact:
Rich Pulvino
Manager, Corporate Communications
Carla Mancuso-Spano
Senior Account Supervisor
Tipping Point Communications
585.340.1119; Cell: 585.317.9268