WASHINGTON, D.C. - President Barack Obama Wednesday honored 13 people whose lives are "shining examples of what it means to be an American." They're winners of the Presidential Citizens Medals for committing their lives to helping their communities, country or fellow Americans. Many have fed the poor or advocated for deaf children or even helped widows of Afghanistan.
"They come from different backgrounds and they hail from every corner of our country. But what unites these citizens, what makes them special, is the determination they share to right a wrong; to see a need and then meet it; to recognize when others are suffering and take it upon themselves to make a difference," President Obama said. "They recognize that no matter how difficult their lives may be, no matter how daunting their own challenges may seem, someone else will always have it harder than they do. There will always be a more important cause to fight for."
The recipients of the 2010 Citizens Medal are:
Roberta Diaz Brinton, Los Angeles, CA
Roberta Diaz Brinton has devoted her time and talents to improving science and technology education for Los Angeles students. As Director of the University of Southern California's Science, Technology and Research (STAR) Program, Brinton has opened the doors of opportunity for thousands of disadvantaged and minority inner-city youth. Brinton receives the Citizens Medal for encouraging America's next generations to reach for the stars.
Daisy M. Brooks, Chicago, IL
When a pregnant teenager with no place to stay arrived at her door, Daisy Brooks welcomed the young woman in. What followed was a lifelong commitment to helping many of North Chicago's young mothers and their infants. Brooks opened Daisy's Resource and Developmental Center to serve as a dormitory, school, and catalyst for young women to improve their lives. Brooks receives the Citizens Medal for offering guidance and support to young women across Chicago.
Betty Kwan Chinn, Eureka, CA
Touched by childhood tragedy, Betty Chinn brings hope to those who have fallen on hard times. Left homeless as a child in China, Chinn became mute. When she came to America, she found both her voice and her mission: aiding those without shelter on our own shores. Today, Chinn provides meals twice a day as expressions of gratitude to a welcoming nation. Chinn receives the Citizens Medal for renewing America's promise by serving those in need.
Cynthia M. Church, Wilmington, DE
Cynthia Church turned a personal battle with cancer into a force for progress and change. Dismayed by the lack of resources for women of color with breast cancer, Church founded Sisters on a Mission, Inc, an African-American breast cancer support network in Delaware. Church receives the Citizens Medal for confronting the scourge of this terrible disease and working to halt its spread.
Susan Retik Ger, Needham, MA
Susan Retik Ger understands the importance of empowering women touched by personal tragedy. After losing her husband on September 11, 2001, she found cause in educating and training Afghan widows and their children. Her strength of spirit has healed hearts, fostering mutual understanding and brightening our common future. Retik Ger receives the Citizens Medal for advancing women's rights and demonstrating the power of America's ideals.
Mary K. Hoodhood, Grand Rapids, MI
Physical limitations have not hindered Mary K. Hoodhood's determination to strengthen her community. Though a car accident left her paralyzed, Hoodhood began volunteering to feed the hungry through her local Meals on Wheels program. In 2001, Hoodhood founded Kids' Food Basket which provides meals to thousands of children in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Hoodhood receives the Citizens Medal for her remarkable efforts to nourish our nation's children.
Kimberly McGuiness, Cave Spring, GA
Parent and advocate, Kimberly McGuiness has been a true champion for deaf students. Her persistent letters, phone calls, and visits to state legislators helped spur the passage of Georgia's Deaf Child's Bill of Rights. She has led workshops, counseled parents, and changed lives, raising awareness and support for deaf education. McGuiness receives the Citizens Medal for demonstrating the results one citizen can achieve for an entire community.
Jorge Munoz, New York City, NY
Jorge MuÃ±oz recognizes that we all have a stake in one another. By giving his time, energy, and resources to feeding the hungry, he has demonstrated the enduring American values of sacrifice and kindness. MuÃ±oz receives the Citizens Medal for his service and dedication to creating a more hopeful tomorrow for the less fortunate among us.
Lisa Nigro, Chicago, IL
Beginning with a wagon full of coffee and sandwiches, Lisa Nigro's mission to aid those living on the streets of Chicago has inspired us all. Her wagon gave way to a restaurant for homeless men and women, expanding with partner organizations to provide housing, job training, and vital support to Chicagoans affected by poverty. Nigro receives the Citizens Medal for her tireless service to her fellow citizens.
MaryAnn Phillips, Star Valley Ranch, WY
Caring for America's injured service members, MaryAnn Phillips embodies strength and grace. An American citizen living in Germany, Phillips volunteers with Soldiers Angels at Landstuhl Air Force Base. She spends countless hours at the bedsides of our wounded warriors and their families, caring for them, encouraging them, and grieving with them. Phillips receives the Citizens Medal for putting her patriotism into action on behalf of our troops and our nation.
Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam, Shaftsbury, VT
Devoted to preserving our nation's public lands, Elizabeth Cushman Titus Putnam has inspired thousands of America's youth to protect our natural bounty. Her vision to offer land restoration and maintenance service opportunities became a reality with the birth of the Student Conservation Association. Putnam receives the Citizens Medal for helping ensure that our nation's treasured public lands are enjoyed by future generations.
Myrtle Faye Rumph, Inglewood, CA
For decades, Myrtle Faye Rumph has lent her talent and compassion to impacting the lives of at-risk youth. Her commitment to reducing gun and gang violence in her community has steered countless young people away from dangerous habits, and altered the course of their futures. Rumph receives the Citizens Medal for replacing violence and despair with a beacon of hope and humanity.
George J. Weiss, Jr., Marine, MN
George Weiss, Jr., a veteran of World War II and the United States Marine Corps, reflects our nation's generous and selfless heart. In 1979, he founded the Fort Snelling Memorial Rifle Squad, which today consists of more than 125 volunteers who have performed final military honors for more than 55,000 deceased veterans. Weiss receives the Citizens Medal for his extraordinary service to our nation's veterans and their families.