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2021 ESL Jefferson Award Winners

Five Local Heroes Named 2021 ESL Jefferson Award Winners!

Congratulations to these local volunteers most recently recognized by ESL Federal Credit Union and News 10 NBC WHEC as ESL Jefferson Award Winners.

This year’s honorees are:

Matthew Doward

As Founder and Director of “A Horse’s Friend.” Matthew Doward believes that introducing children to the world of horses can provide a positive alternative to negative street activities. Since 2004, “A Horse’s Friend” has touched the lives of thousands of children from underserved and impoverished neighborhoods. Incorporating horseback riding and caring for horses as a way to teach responsibility, team work, and pride in accomplishments, Matthew and his horses give children of color an opportunity to see themselves as part of the horse world.

Bijaya Khadka

Born in a Nepalese refugee camp, Bijaya Khadka immigrated to Rochester in 2009 and settled in the Maplewood Area. Once a victim of bullying here in his new home town, Bijaya became inspired to help other refugees and marginalized communities. By founding “House or Refuge,” Bijaya supports “New Americans” in a variety of ways, including making important translation services available to help them acclimate more quickly to life in Rochester.

Clay Harris, Sr.

Since high school, Clay Harris, Sr. has been working to bring our community together in a variety of ways. More recently, he has sought to create unity after the summer of unrest and protests in 2020. As the principle organizer of Uniting & Healing through Hope of Monroe County, organizes local efforts to address the humanitarian needs (food insecurity and winter warmth) of individuals and families made worse by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Lynn Stiefler

As a pediatric oncology nurse, Lynn Stiefler has always known how difficult it is to be a child with cancer. Now retired, she cares for those patients in a different way, through volunteering with a variety of organizations who share her passion of supporting these children and their families. Her organization, CURE Bears for Hope and Love has been sending Build a Bears to children who are in active cancer treatment since 2013. In 2019, Lynn worked with Wal-Mart to deliver “Survivor Dolls,” a limited edition of dolls that resemble girls who have undergone cancer treatments.

Shawn Ritchie

“No kid sleeps on the floor in our town!®” That’s the motto for the national organization, Sleep in Heavenly Peace. As the founder of the local chapter of S.H.P., Shawn Ritchie takes that motto to heart as he manages fund raising efforts and volunteer coordination for the organization. In 2020, the group built and delivered over 100 bunk beds for children in families where even simple bedding is an unaffordable luxury.

Want to learn more about these amazing volunteers? Visit News10 NBC’s ESL Jefferson Awards page for full stories.

About the ESL Jefferson Awards

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.