Design For A Difference was created with the mission to change the lives of those who were most deserving. This year we decided to award local community heroes. We defined a community hero as someone who selflessly gives back to their community in any shape or form. They do not need to be a first responder or nurse, just someone who cares about others. We gave examples such as teachers, local restaurant workers, even your family members. We saw a large outpouring of support and nominations for your local community heroes, and we loved hearing their stories.
The DFAD HIWTHI Contest has officially come to an end and our Grand Prize winner has been selected and confirmed! Our winner of the $10K room makeover is Jillian Penhale from Tampa, FL. She was nominated by one of our IDG members, Victor Cucuz.
“I can’t think of a more deserving person that should be recognized. She lives in a very modest home with her 3 children. Two of which are adopted and her Social Worker husband. It would be wonderful and so well deserved for us to turn around and show Jillian how much we appreciate her personal sacrifices & contributions in helping those in need. I hope you agree.” -Vic Cucuz, Carpet Crafters, Tampa, FL
Congratulations to our four regional winners. Each winner will receive a room makeover valued at up to $2,500.
Region #1 – Oscar Mireles – Madison, WI
For the past five years, Oscar has been involved with coordinating a leadership group of Latinx leaders. With trust, patience, and a long term vision for change, he has created a network of organizations and professionals that focuses on building strength within his community. For the past five months, Oscar Mireles has daily been featuring local community leaders, healthcare workers philanthropists, and artists who are spreading positive news and highlighting their good work to better his city.
Region #2 – Kristina Peace – Lake Orion, MI
Kristina is the mom of Abe, a little boy living with half of a heart. She now stays home with Abe and their older son, Sam. Abe has endured 3 open heart surgeries and brain surgery. His other diagnoses include Hydrocephalus, Epilepsy, and Autism. Kristina finds what little peace and “me time” she can muster growing flowers and vegetables from her seed in her yard. She gives them away whenever she can and sometimes puts a cart out on her front porch or at Caveman and Pip for a small profit. Kristina donated 100% of her profits to Rainbow Connection so they can continue to make amazing experiences for sick kids and their families within their homes.
Region #3 – Lisa Chesser – Tampa, FL
Lisa works a full-time job and then spends another full-time schedule nights and weekends picking up and delivering furniture, food, and clothing to people in need. Lisa uses her own funds to provide food, hygiene supplies, clothing, and furniture to Tampa homeless and veterans. Local community members donate to Lisa and she delivers those items to those in need. She helps organize and host children’s holiday parties for her local community and does troop boxes for our deployed veterans. She has helped the homeless find work, shelter, and even paid for car insurance for homeless mothers. She helps furnish homes for the recently homeless who find housing, often by her hand. She is a great networker, always directing people to resources that can help them. She advocates for the legitimate needs of these people, talking with service providers, local politicians, and law enforcement.
Region #4 – Anna Nguyen – Denver, CO
While Anna’s shop was shut down, she had the time and resources (her family employees and her own fabrics) and began fabricating 2,000 plus masks for people in her community to protect against the COVID virus.
We want to thank everyone who submitted nominations and those who participated during the voting period. We are thankful to have seen such a large turnout of nominations. We look forward to continuing to see all of our nominees give back to their communities in different ways!