Matt Kurtz Kindness Award Winner Announcement

Thanks to our generous donors, we are thrilled to announce two winners – Shreyaa Venkat and Jayde Powell – of our Kindness Award. Both of them go above and beyond to help others but it’s especially appreciated during the Coronavirus pandemic. In these strange times, when there is so much anxiety, stress and fear we’re blown away by their compassion, their selflessness and their ability to get other people to share in their vision of helping those in need. Their acts of kindness have rippled out and touched thousands of lives. It’s incredible, it’s beautiful and we’re so proud to have them as part of our MKRO (Matt Kurtz Ripples On) family.

2020 Award Winner Shreyaa Venkat

Shreyaa Venkat (Ashburn, VA) has been on a mission to make the world better through kindness (How could we not pick her?!!) so she started volunteering at schools, libraries, senior homes and community events. She loved it and thought it would be even better if she could get her friends and community to get involved with her. This led to her, along with her sister, Esha Venkat, founding NEST4US which works with communities to provide volunteers and leadership opportunities and empowers the next generation to integrate kindness, generosity and social good into their routine.

They’ve partnered with shelters, reaching out to food banks and community through social media, and marshaling volunteers to serve food and put together care and hygiene packages. NEST4US has grown from a small project to an impactful organization with over 800 volunteers.

And how sweet is this? In all their projects. they include a note of encouragement. They have created over 10,000 sweet notes of compassion and hope.

They’re continuing to serve those in need, even during the COVID pandemic! They’re serving the homeless community, low-income families and underprivileged kids through their Backpack Buddies program. They’re assembling care packages filled with toiletries and nonperishable food items and offering virtual tutoring services for kids.

“Giving back helps us grow and gain a different perspective on things often taken for granted. We strongly believe that even if you have nothing else to give, your kindness means the world.” – Shreyaa and Esjha Venkat

Did I mention she is only 17 years old and a freshman at Georgetown University? She’s amazing! Look at some of the things she has done in a few short years:

  • They designed an app, Nestables, which is intended for people who have excess food to donate, shelters seeking food sponsors and volunteers looking for service opportunities.
  • They sponsor and serve meals at over 23 shelters.
  • They’ve partnered with Starbucks Food Recovery Program and Panera’s Day-End Dough-Nation program. They collect the unsold bread products and distribute them to various homeless shelters and food banks.
  • They’ve partnered with local schools in retrieving leftover food from cafeterias to feed the hungry.
  • They run a weekly free tutoring program, NEST Tutors, which helps low-income families.

Shreyaa is a perfect example of how one person can change the world. What started out as a personal mission grew into what it is today. She is incredible and we are proud to recognize her for the kind, compassionate person that she is.

2020 Award Winner Jayde Powell

Jayde Powell (Las Vegas, NV) recognized a need among the elderly during the coronavirus pandemic so she created Shopping Angels to help them get their groceries safely. She said she got the idea to organize a few volunteers to help out during the pandemic when her mother mentioned calling elderly neighbors to see whether they needed anything.

What started as her small act of kindness for her neighbors, has morphed into a nationwide volunteer program – actually international now that Canada has joined in.

“As a pre-med student, I know that people who are older or people who have heart, lung or immune conditions are especially at risk for contracting the virus,” Powell, a University of Nevada, Reno student, told CNN. “We’re doing this to try and reach out to people who might feel that they are just completely alone in this situation.”

Jayde started out by asking members of her medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon, if they would be willing to help provide free grocery delivery to the sick and elderly and as the need grew, she asked more classmates and turned to social media for help.

After being interviewed by Fox 5 (Las Vegas) she said she woke up the next morning “to 20 voicemails and 56 emails. And I’ve got people in Connecticut, Long Island, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Arizona that want to volunteer.”

Jayde has been working hard to connect volunteers across the country with people in need through email, phone and Facebook.

Sometimes the volunteers get a shopping list, budget and money to cover the purchase. Other times clients order online and the Shopping Angels do the pick-up and delivery. Jayde asks all of the Shopping Angels to wear masks and gloves during pickup and delivery and she asks them not to go inside the homes for the safety of everyone involved.

All of that is amazing but Jayde didn’t stop there. She has created a GoFundMe for older adults who can’t afford to get the things they need.

With many older adults living in poverty, Powell said she doesn’t want anyone to be afraid to reach out because of their budget.

Jayde and her volunteers are putting themselves on the front line so that those most vulnerable to the coronavirus don’t have to.

Jayde is the answer to everyone who thinks, “I’m only one person, I can’t make a difference.”  We are touched by her kindness and compassion and happy to recognize her selflessness with our Award.

Jackie Kurtz is a blogger who is on a mission to make the world better, one kindness at a time. When her son died tragically, she started a kindness website and blog as a tribute to him. In his 32 years he impacted more lives than most people do in a lifetime. Her favorite quote is, “Even if we disagree about everything, we can still be kind to each other.” – Matthew L. Jacobson You can connect with Jackie on her website or through email.

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