On Monday, June 18 at the 40th Annual Jefferson Awards, John Young of Soldiers Grove was honored with the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for "Outstanding Community Service Benefiting Local Communities.”
Young was selected by an independent community panel of citizens for the Jefferson Award, also known as the "Nobel Prize for public service," which honors an individual for "outstanding, unique and heroic" personal acts that have made a positive impact on a community, helping hundreds, and in his case, thousands of others in the spirit of public service.
Young’s leadership has impacted the low-income people of the Coulee Region for over 40 years. He joined the Couleecap Board of Directors in 1970, and was elected Couleecap Board Chairperson in 1974. He has been re-elected to the position ever since.
During his tenure, John Young has led the agency through dramatic growth and change. When Young became the board chairperson, Couleecap was an agency with four employees and a $100,000 budget. Under his leadership Couleecap has flourished. Today, Couleecap has over 60 employees and an annual budget of nine million dollars. In 2011, Couleecap helped over 37,000 people in the counties of Crawford, LaCrosse, Monroe, and Vernon.
“John has always managed the Board with clarity of purpose and fairness. The agency owes much of its success to John Young’s excellent leadership over the years,” said Couleecap Executive Director Grace Jones. “It’s extremely gratifying to see him recognized for these qualities on a national stage. We congratulate John on this incredible honor and thank him for the profound impact he has had on the lives of thousands of people in our area.”
Attended by political leaders, dignitaries, philanthropists and luminaries from the arts and sciences, the Jefferson Awards are presented each year during a special gala ceremony in Washington, D.C. where a broad array of honorees are recognized whose lives, careers and volunteer activities embody the finest examples of public service in a range of human endeavors.
Co-founded in 1973 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard, the Jefferson Awards recognize the famous and the unknown, individuals and organizations, and the young and old. The awards reflect one of the founding ideals of our nation, that of contributing toward the larger good.
As Thomas Jefferson himself wrote, "Private charities as well as contributions to public purposes in proportion to everyone's circumstances are certainly among the duties we owe to society."
Past recipients of the award include Lance Armstrong, Hubert Humphrey, Dr. C. Everett Koop, General Colin Powell and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.