(Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, center, with the 2014 Richard D. Parsons Community Impact Award recipients)
By Mallory Weinberg
The spirit of volunteerism was infectious yesterday as Time Warner held its first Richard D. Parsons Community Impact Awards at the Time Warner Center in New York City. These awards, a 33-year Time Warner tradition previously known as the Andrew Heiskell Awards, were renamed this year for Parsons, the former Chairman and CEO of Time Warner and a national role model for civic and community service. At the event, Parsons was moved to tears in acknowledging the naming of the awards in his honor and discussing the meaning of giving back.
Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes told the group that Parsons was the obvious choice for who to name the awards after for a new era. “I can’t think of anyone who inspired so many people, including me, and many you in this room, than Dick,” Bewkes said. “I’m so grateful he has agreed to let us honor him in this way, and that he’s here today.”
Dick Parsons told the crowd "it's good to be home"
“To be associated with men and women who have distinguished themselves and are recognized for what they’ve done for others, it’s not only heroic, but it’s noble,” said Parsons. “And it doesn’t get any better than that. So thank you for the honor.”
Bewkes presented Community Impact Awards this year to five individual recipients from across the company and one team from HBO. Time Warner granted $5,000 to each of the five individuals and $10,000 to the HBO team to donate to the nonprofit(s) of their choice. The company also announced Turner’s Michael Rowell as the winner of its newly-created “Excellence in Service Award,” which gave employees the opportunity to vote to determine which of this year’s recipients would receive an additional $5,000 donation to the organization that they were recognized for.
Watch a recap of the event and read the 2014 award recipients' profiles below.
Sandra Edmund is an Administrative Legal Assistant at Time Warner Corporate who was honored for her volunteer work for the City Bar Justice Center’s Immigrant Women and Children Project (IWC). Sandra offered free legal assistance, and was successful in helping an undocumented victim of domestic violence obtain permanent resident status, leave her abusive marriage and remain with her children in the United States. Sandra interviewed witnesses, prepared affidavits and compiled evidence to document the abuse and ensured that sure her client could obtain work authorization and residency status. Her client now no longer faces the fear of violence, deportation or separation from her children and has been granted a new beginning.
Joe Raiola, Senior Editor for MAD Magazine, DC Entertainment, is the Executive/Artistic Director of Theatre Within where he reshaped the organization’s mission to further the performing arts as a positive social force through its Annual John Lennon Tribute Concert, theater productions and workshops which benefit local and international charities. Joe brought together WhyHunger and Yoko Ono to launch “Imagine There’s No Hunger,” a global initiative which used sustainable agriculture training and food aid to provide five million meals for families in need in 22 countries. Under Joe’s direction, Theatre Within has raised over $100,000 for the Food Bank of NYC, Share Our Strength and WhyHunger, among many others.
Michael Rowell, Shift Supervisor, Traffic, Turner Broadcasting, has been volunteering for the past 11 years with Open Hand, a non-profit organization in Atlanta that provides meals to those who are underprivileged and dealing with critical, chronic or terminal diseases. Michael recruited his Turner colleagues and pulled together a group of 262 volunteers who spent over 860 hours, preparing 17,000 meals for the center last year. Michael has also been active with the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia’s Camp New Hope Summer Program, the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.
Paul Ruszczyk, Maintenance Supervisor, Transmission Engineering, Turner Broadcasting, is a founding member of Alpha Team K9 Search and Rescue Inc. Over the past 14 years, Paul helped train 12 volunteers and nine dogs who are now active members of Alpha Team, a vital resource for law enforcement and emergency response agencies throughout the Southeastern United States. The Alpha Team responds to 30 - 40 calls per year using specialized technology and the proven capabilities of their courageous animals in missions that often end in “finds.” Paul worked to learn land navigation, amateur radio operation, CPR and first aid to maintain the team’s high standards and success rates.
Stuart Stefani, Fire Marshall, Studio Facilities, Warner Bros. was instrumental in helping to launch Firefighters QUEST for Burn Survivors, an organization dedicated to providing financial support and resources for burn survivors and their families. QUEST for Burn Survivors covers everything from equipment, bandages, medical supplies, cosmetic surgeries, travel expenses to specialized hospitals and hotel accommodations so loved ones can be nearby. Over the past 17 years, QUEST has remained 100% volunteer-based and has raised more than 2 million dollars to help support hundreds of burn survivors and their families.
Team Award: Young Storytellers Foundation
For the past five years, four HBO employees have worked with underserved youth in California through the Young Storytellers Foundation (YSF). YSF helps students improve their literacy and writing skills and encourages them to discover the power of their own voices by writing unique stories that are then brought to life on stage. Every spring and fall, Preston DeFrancis, Kary Antholis, Jeannie Koenigsberg and Brad Saunders recruit fellow HBO employees to mentor the students through the eight-week program, helping them develop and refine their five-page screenplays in preparation for "The Big Show," a showcase of the students’ work performed by professional actors. Since HBO began working with YSF, they've recruited 42 volunteers, logged 1500 hours and mentored over 120 students.
Mallory Weinberg is Associate, Corporate Communications, Time Warner Inc.