Editor’s note: The following is a guest post from blogger Betty Londergan of Heifer 12 x 12.
On Sunday night, I got the call that I was named Volunteer of the Year from the Southern Region in the CLASSY Awards for the work I am doing on Heifer12 x12.com, a blog project taking me to 12 countries in 12 months in 2012 to see and write about the work of Heifer International. For those of you who don’t know (and I sure didn’t), this is the largest philanthropic awards ceremony in the country, celebrating the greatest charitable achievements by nonprofit organizations, socially conscious businesses, and individuals worldwide. In 2012, more than 2,400 organizations and volunteers were nominated for a CLASSY Award, and their collective efforts impacted the lives of more than 200,000,000 people in 71 countries worldwide.
Photo courtesy of Heifer International
I was totally honored to be nominated, I was stunned to make the regional finals, and I was delirious when they told me I won my region– particularly since the other nominees were wonderful people who had accomplished remarkable things.
In fact, when they asked me why I thought I should win, I believe I said something like, “Oh, I don’t. There are so many people who are more worthy than I am.” My husband thought that was a really dumb thing to say but the truth is, I don’t think I deserve to win. However, I absolutely believe that Heifer should get all the recognition and honor this award brings! So I’m even daring to hope I’ll win nationally on September 22 (although the other three regional winners are really spectacular), because I figure it will shine a klieg light of fame on the real heroes: Heifer staff and beneficiaries around the world.
When I started my blog in Uganda (a test run before the real thing), and for the first 7 months of travel this year, I have been routinely blown away by the incredible commitment and insane work ethic of Heifer staff in the field. As I’m writing this, their faces are popping up in my mind: Peter in Uganda, Bryan in Guatemala, Ewaldy and Hervil in Haiti, Madeline in Peru, Tony in China, Goma in Nepal, Humphrey in Cameroon, Laura in Romania, Jeffrey in Appalachia… such talented people working such long hours and bringing all their creativity to the table to help end hunger and poverty in their countries.
I have been so privileged to get to see Heifer projects around the world; to learn the culture and history of each of these countries and how it’s shaped the challenges we face in making sustainable change; to meet the beautiful, courageous, undaunted and hard-working people who Heifer works with and for … and then to come back and write my stories in a way that brings those people and those situations alive for my readers.
It’s been a journey filled with harder work than I ever thought, with more love and joy than I imagined possible. And I’m grateful in every way that I’ve been able to help Heifer tell the story of the complex, difficult, compassionate, essential work it’s doing in the world.