Instead of rehashing gloomy political news this week, let’s take a moment to celebrate the winners of the 31st annual Human Services Network (HSN) Awards. These selfless heroes who toil in obscurity much of the time were honored at a special breakfast Jan. 9, amid lots of laughter and joy in their achievements, and more than a few tears at the suffering their work alleviates.

Mike Russell is the Board Member of the Year, having served the Children’s Cabinet since 2010—including the last two years as Chair. He is the epitome of an involved board member, providing steady and supportive leadership while inspiring his own staff at United Construction to contribute as well by creating custom playhouses and doghouses for the annual fundraising auction.

The Staff Member of the Year Award goes to Ivy Spadone from Northern Nevada HOPES, where she began caring for HIV positive patients 19 years ago as a physician assistant. She now serves as the Chief Operations Officer and is revered for her dedication to patients and staff, and for creating innovative community partnerships.

Nicola Goldstein, a member of the University of Nevada, Reno’s, class of 2021 is the Student Volunteer of the Year. Despite significant personal difficulties in her life, Nicola works 60 hours a week, goes to school full time and volunteers at a day care serving struggling families. Her determination to succeed is inspirational.

This year’s Administrator of the Year is JD Klippenstein, from ACTIONN, a group working to unite communities of faith with those suffering from injustice to mobilize together for social change. During the past year, Klippenstein has led economic justice efforts around the lack of affordable housing and immigration reform.

Mallory Behavioral Health Crisis center is HSN’s Agency of the Year. The Center is affiliated with Carson Tahoe Regional Healthcare and is honored for groundbreaking work in providing psychiatric stabilization services, which often divert people from jail, and for first episode psychosis services to patients experiencing new symptoms of mental illness.

The Media Representative of the Year is Anjeanette Damon, the Reno Gazette Journal’s government watchdog reporter. She is known for her investigative work and is currently featured in The City podcast about the battle between visions of “old” and “new” Reno. Her compassionate portrayal of women involved in the strip club business provides insight and depth to the struggles of single mothers trying to make life work in Reno’s service economy.

Sean McCoy, law clerk to Judge Cynthia Lu of the 2nd Judicial District Court, is the winner of the HSN Impact Award for his tireless legal support to clarify Nevada’s mental health crisis holds, a major step forward in strengthening patient rights and keeping our community safe. His time and talent will help protect thousands of Nevadans living with a serious mental illness, and assist their families in caring for them.

The Mike O’Callaghan Humanitarian of the Year Award is designed to highlight a career human services professional with an extraordinary passion and dedication to strengthening our community. This year’s humanitarian is Dr. Joanne Everts, a lifelong advocate for early childhood education in Nevada. Everts is the force behind the creation of UNR’s Child and Family Research Center, which oversees child care centers on and off campus that provide safe and creative spaces for children to learn. She has been a child advocate her entire life, working collaboratively to find funding for innovative programs like the Classroom On Wheels (COW Bus) and Family Resource Centers. She also helped develop many of the first standards for Nevada programs serving infants, toddlers and young children.

Take a minute to thank these outstanding people today and every day as they and their peers build our community by serving others.

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