Caregivers.com writer Mara Botonis has been chosen to represent the State of Florida as the Treasure Coast Regional Jefferson Award Winner, the highest local honor, recognized at the national level for her many years of excellence in volunteerism.
The Jefferson Awards are the country’s longest standing and most prestigious organization dedicated to activating and celebrating public service, so much so that their national honors are considered the Nobel Prize for community and public service. The Jefferson Awards are supported by The American Institute for Public Service, which was formed in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard. The Institute’s programs train and empower individuals to serve and lead in their communities, amplifying their impact through a vast network of media partners, mentors and volunteers.
Each year, the Jefferson Awards honor the most outstanding achievements in public service locally and then from the group of local award winners, one is named the top award winner in their region and invited to accept their Jefferson Award at the National Ceremonies in Washington, DC.
Mara and her fellow top Jefferson Award honorees from their respective states around the country will attend the 2015 National Jefferson Award Ceremony & Gala Dinner in Washington, DC for the presentation of their awards. Mara was selected for the award in honor of her work as a volunteer Alzheimer’s Advocate and self-published author, who has given so much of her time, money and resources to help other families (like her own) impacted by Alzheimer’s over the years.
Lori La Bey, founder of Alzheimer’s Speaks and recognized by Dr. Oz and Sharecare as the #1 Influencer Online for Alzheimer’s, has worked with Mara on numerous volunteer projects. “Mara Botonis has an unlimited amount of energy to fuel her deep desire to make a difference in the world of dementia and caregiving. You might wonder what feeds her soul to keep donating her time, energy and insights to those in need. From what I have personally experienced in working with Mara on various projects and committees, is that she gets filled and refueled by those she helps. Her authentic desire to utilize her knowledge and share it in a compassionate and honorable way is undeniable”. Lori goes on to note, “Once you have been touched by Mara, your life has changed forever for the better.”
Project Lifesaver has also seen Mara’s volunteer work ethic firsthand. “Project Lifesaver has been working with Mara Botonis on a number of critical projects including the development of a series of certified and CEU approved training programs for law enforcement and public safety agencies about strategies and best practices on identifying and managing the recovery and return of an Alzheimer’s/ Dementia patient who has wandered. Mara is smart and skilled, but more importantly she is passionate about the growing issues surrounding the care and understanding of individuals with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. She has natural people skills and an intuitive leadership style. Mara’s innovative ideas and approach leads confidently, but without arrogance. Perhaps even more impressively, she can also take direction well herself. I don’t know if I’ve met anyone in business with better communication skills.” Says fellow Alzheimer’s Advocate Gene Saunders, Project Lifesaver International’s Chief Executive Officer and Founder.
Mara shares, “For me the key to rewarding volunteer work is finding a cause I cared about (Alzheimer’s) and combining it something I enjoyed doing (writing). There are a lot of organizations out there who could use a pair of extra hands. Volunteering shouldn’t feel like work. If you love to paint, or garden, like animals, nature or travel, think about how to use that passion to help others. You don’t need a lot of time or money to make a difference. Find something you care about, people you like spending time helping, and a mission you believe in and just go for it!”
Mara currently serves as a volunteer in the following capacities: Board Member for the Alzheimer’s Association Southeast Florida Chapter, Work Group Co-Chair for the National Dementia Action Alliance, Law Enforcement and First Responder Alzheimer’s Educator for Project Lifesaver International, and National Support Group Co-Moderator for USAgainstAlzheimer’s.
For more information about Mara and her work, please visit her website at www.whencaringtakescourage.com.