Congratulations to the following volunteers for their selection as the “2012 People of the Year.” Here are their stories in the words of the people who selected them for this honor. I hope they inspire you to new heights and remind everyone of the many caring and dedicated grassroots activists in the world.
2012 People of the Year
Nominated by Gail Goldman
I would like to nominate my daughter, Marley Goldman, for 2012 Person of the Year. At age 11, she is a lifelong vegan and animal activist, always speaking out on behalf of her voiceless animal friends. She has the kindest heart, constantly rescuing insects and reptiles from our home and pool, and rescuing any and all animals in need that she sees, whether it is an oil-covered pigeon at the park, a squirrel that had been hit by a car or a fledgling Cooper’s Hawk stranded in the street (we have been to the California Wildlife Center countless times!). This year, she volunteered at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, helping bunnies and parrots; trained for a “Mini Marathon,” and raised money on behalf of PETA Pack; fed turkeys at Animal Acres; and protested as Ringling Bros. rolled into town (photo attached). Finally, she’s a wonderful vegan cook, with the highlight of her repertoire being the home-made tofu “turkey” that she makes every year for Thanksgiving. I could go on and on, but you get the idea. It gives me great hope for the future to see this pure, radiant spirit spreading the compassionate message wherever she goes.
Nominated by Cully Miller
I proudly nominate Rhys Miller, Founder of FairyTailEndings.org, which raises funds to provide veterinarian care (emergency, preventative, and quality of life – like Cruciate Ligament surgery) to pets of low-income families who might be financially forced to euthanize their beloved pet (to end his or her pain) or surrender to an already over-crowded shelter system. In the last 18 months, Rhys has saved 105+ pets/families. What people don’t know is that she works a full-time job and volunteers at three other organizations (approximately 20 hours per week). She is the epitome of selfless.
Dr. Randy Cannon
Nominated by Jessi VanPelt
You may already know Dr. Randy Cannon and his organization, Take Your Blinders Off. He’s my amazing veterinarian, and a great animal activist and vegan. He used his own savings to buy a truck with large video screens that, in his free time, travels Central Florida, educating the public about animal issues. He also has rescued and adopted out many companion animals through his veterinary office. I’m proud to count him as a friend and vet to my cats and dogs. To find out more info about his organization, and to donate, visit Take Your Blinders Off.
Nominated by John Jungenberg
I select my mom, Mary Jungenberg, for this honor. She is an amazing vegan animal rights activist. She is always doing amazing activist work, from Paid-Per Views, to handing out thousands of leaflets, she always is helping our animal friends. She is also an amazing homeschooling mother. I’d like to attach this Facebook status from her about an encounter with a little girl who was interested in going vegan.
“I have the sweetest story to tell. Today while leafleting in elf costume a mother came back to me with her little daughter after receiving a leaflet. Her mother told me that her daughter had a question for me. I knelt down on the pavement because she was so small. The little girl asked me if my book had foods in it that didn’t hurt animals. I said yes and that there were lots and lots of foods that are made that don’t hurt animals. She then asked me what I ate. I told her that I ate sandwiches, pizza, spaghetti, breakfast scrambles, desserts…but that I made them in a way that didn’t hurt any animals. She looked incredibly relieved and happy. Her mom told me that her daughter (she’s 6) was very upset about “how eggs and chickens are getting hurt”. I told her that she had an amazing daughter. We talked about how incredible her compassion is.”
Nominated by Camille Henry
I’d like to tell you about my dear friend, Janna Leoff. She has been feeding the homeless with her homemade lunches every Saturday for some years now. She is not wealthy but scrapes up enough money to make these lunches and water bottles for those going hungry. She calls her mission “Bags of Love” and started this when she lived in Tenn and continued on while living in AZ and now settled in San Diego, CA and continues on there as well. She has lovely heart and is a beautiful, beautiful person.
Nominated by Kelly Lecain
Jody spends countless hours networking homeless dogs in shelters achieving her goal of getting them to safety prior to their untimely deaths. She is always there to help those in need with their animals, anything to save the life! Aside from animal rescue, Jody volunteers for the Red Cross and after Hurricane Sandy she left her own life, kids & dogs to go help feed the less fortunate people who were affected by the storm spending most nights in shelters and days in Red Cross trucks with hot meals. Jody has been my best friend for the past 46 years and her generosity never ceases to amaze me! The world is a better place because of her and I am blessed to have her in my life!
Nominated by Jennifer Mennuti
I’d like to nominate Suzanne Geragi for volunteer recognition! I’ve never met someone who joyfully participates in so many activities and encourages others to do the same! On any given day, Suzanne can be found feeding homeless people, volunteering at the Boys & Girls Club, baking dozens of cupcakes for fundraisers, or helping at her son’s school. She has also volunteered to help rescue sea turtles, feed pelicans, clean horse stalls, and assist with humane education programs. These are only some of the activities that I am aware of because she does so much and with only a casual mention! She inspires me every day and I’m very fortunate to have her for a friend!
Emma Jayne Brown
Nominated by Rob Caldwell
Emma runs the Wolverhampton fresh start for hens. She’s marvelous and works tirelessly volunteering, rescuing hens, and other animals. She’s a diamond.
Nominated by Kelly Lecain
I would like to nominate Eldad Hagar. He is an amazing rescuer and a wonderful genuine person! I met Eldad through FaceBook while trying to rescue a French Mastiff that had been dumped in South Florida. The rescue mission lasted 7 weeks and thanks to Eldad we have a very happy ending! Eldad lives in Los Angeles and after hearing the despair in my voice and the intensity of the situation he flew to Ft Lauderdale to help. After 8 days he flew back home to give Daisy time to relax. He returned to Ft Lauderdale 10 days later with a wildlife vet and together they rescued Daisy. This man spends every day and every night rescuing animals off the streets in LA. He is a selfless person who truly cares about the innocent voiceless ones! Eldad videos his rescues which you can take a look at on you tube. Eldad75 is his channel. To say this man is amazing just doesn’t describe what a special human being he is. I am proud to know him and call him my friend!
Nominated by Karen Sibert
Paul York has implemented various clubs at University of Toronto such as Animal Rights Club, Students Against Climate Change, participates and implements protest vigils on campus and at St. Helen’s and Ryding-Regency slaughterhouse, and has volunteered his time to teach an animal rights class, open to students and non-students, beginning this semester 2013. Paul’s work for animals and environment include vegan outreach, education, and anti-vivisection. He uses a variety of creative tactics and strategies, for example: showing animal rights films, organizing creative outdoor events in a public space, tabling for vegan outreach, tabling for anti-vivisection work, lobby cafeterias to adopt Meat-Free Monday and provide vegan options, working with different Toronto AR and vegetarian groups (e.g. Toronto Vegetarian Association) collaboratively, researching and publishing report on the abuse of animals, supporting off-campus demos (e.g. Toronto Pig Save’s work), organizing banners and non-violent friendly vigils / demos, poster-painting parties, vegan potlucks, class speaks, leafleting, bringing in guest speakers (e.g. Ray Greek, Jane Goodall, Paul Watson, Marc Bekoff), and so on. Lastly, he has an incredible ability to deliver a message, written and orally, and the ability to convey a message without prejudice and without clashing with others personal beliefs, customs or privileges.
Nominated by Carol Herard
While Misty stopped to get gas at a convenience store, she noticed a group of feral cats in the parking lot, eating from a trash bin. She saw animals in need, and immediately went to work to help them. She set up a meeting with the owner of the store, and got permission to set up feeding stations for the cats in a wooded lot adjacent to the store. She and her husband built feeding stations and covered shelters for the cats. Then, using her own money, she began trapping, spaying / neutering, vaccinating, and micro-chipping all of the cats. She found forever homes for cats who were friendly, taking many of the kittens, the injured, or the special needs cats to her own home. She named the colony “Love Bridge Feral Cat Colony“, and it can be found on Facebook. It has been 3 years now, 40 cats have been TNR’d, and are fed and cared for every single day(even on holidays and in the snow). She’s had to defend the colony from new store management and from Public Works, and continues to be successful. She is truly a local hero.
Peter C. (not pictured)
Nominated by Jessi Walters Graham
Peter C. smiles and warms the classroom. His class is full of the typical middle school personalities, and with about 26 kids in each class, it is hard to stand out. But his enthusiasm and smile is infectious. He helps teachers and students alike and is always helping because he has a sensitive and considerate heart. In the past few months I have learned he’s privately enduring family issues, and he shared with me his experiences (and his feelings) with some bullies. Why is it that the part of someone who is most out of their control (in Peter’s case, his height) is the fodder for bullies? Peter has a heart of gold and shares himself each day in the little acts of kindness. It could be offering to run an errand for me, or explain an assignment to a needy peer. He’ll even break out and do a gangnam style dance just to make people not laugh, but smile. To make them relax and enjoy the simple things. His schoolmates love him and can’t understand why those bullies from some other school would be so heartless. Peter is one who may have to endure the worst in adolescence — name calling and verbal abuse — but his ability to defend himself by smiling and making others have a positive day is noteworthy. He deserves the world. Middle school is so hard for some. I want to help Peter know it can get better.
Nominated by Andrew Kirschner
To find someone deserving of this honor, I didn’t need to look far. My cousin Michael is my hero. He volunteers countless hours mentoring people recovering from drug and alcohol addictions and dealing with mental illness. He even provides them housing in his own home for months at a time while raising three boys with his equally compassionate wife Stacy. He started a free program called “Fit and Recovery” at his gym in California to teach recovering addicts how to lead a healthy life. His wife Stacy describes him best when she says, “Michael gives people hope who have no hope.” He has an unforgettable warm disposition, a huge heart, and cares deeply about the most troubled among us. I’ve looked up to him since I was a young child but never more so than I do today as he leads such a selfless life and sets an example for his three sons and everyone else fortunate enough to know him. I have endless admiration for my cousin Michael and I’m honored to recognize his work for those most in need.
Special thanks to the winners for reminding us of the old adage that we can’t all be famous but we can all be great. We salute you for being great. Thanks to everyone who nominated the winners for taking the time to recognize the selflessness of others. It speaks volumes about the sincerity of your interest in these causes and your appreciation for your nominees’ achievements.
Do you know someone who deserves to be added to this list? To be eligible, the person can volunteer for any cause — animals, environment, children, elderly, homeless, etc. Please send a paragraph description of what makes him or her special and a photo to KirschnersKornerRadio@yahoo.com by December 31, 2012 and I will add your selection.
Andrew Kirschner is a volunteer grassroots animal rights advocate and the organizer of the 2013 Florida March Against Cruelty to Animals. He writes for Kirschner’s Korner to help raise awareness about issues affecting the global community to make the world a more humane place. To receive new articles via email, enter your email in the “Follow Blog Via Email” link at the top right of the blog.