Bee the change you wish to see

Written by Katie Grimmer

“Bee kind. Bee grateful. Bee the change.” Never was there a more eloquent motif.

The SAFE Volunteer Leadership Committee has come up with a lot of fun and unique themes for our Annual Volunteer Celebration — but this year’s exemplifies the esteemed humans we honored.

On April 13, SAFE volunteers, along with their loved ones and the supervisors who they (let’s be real) carry, all gathered at the generously donated Tokyo Electron Events Center. Under Mary Champagne’s creative and genius direction, the large room that could have felt empty was transported into a bee’s paradise. Yellow, black, and white stripes and polka dots adorned the tables. Watering cans were filled with colorful flowers.

And with a straight-shot view of our own Austin downtown, the room was buzzin’ with anticipation while our worker bees took the day off to enjoy delicious food, awards, photo booths, and door prizes. Guests snacked away on cuisine from The Steeping Room and Tito Adobo and dessert donated by Holy Roller.

Langa, the Volunteer Services Director, took the stage to give the lay of the land and thank those who needed thanking before passing the mike over to our Queen Bee, Frankie Fowler.

If you ever need someone to rally the troops before heading into battle or to pep up the fourth-grade basketball team when they’re down 21 points in the final quarter, Frankie Fowler is your lady. She recognized that while not all the volunteers know each other, our bond is our commitment to stop abuse. “There’s an abundance of energy that keeps us on this path…the ultimate prize: safety for everyone…”

David Horning, the Volunteer Coordinator, carried on with this message. “We can’t keep people safe without all of our volunteers,” David said. “We are grateful for all of you.”

And this year’s Frankie Fowler Volunteer of the Year nominees were the bees that stood out from the rest of our (amazing) hive. Although, if we had the choice, every single one of our volunteers would win this award. There was high praise from every supervisor who submitted their volunteer or community champion for the nomination.

We’re honored to recognize the below Frankie Fowler Volunteer of the Year nominees:

  • Zandra Gauthier staff recognizing Joann and John Taunton, Shelter Basic Needs Volunteers
  • Reyna Wilson  recognizing Aimee Nishimura, Legal Advocate
  • Nancy Salazar recognizing Jason Pittman, Children’s Volunteer Grove Campus
  • Yvette Rouen recognizing Laura Thompson, Charter School/Prof Vol
  • Holly Bowles recognizing Kelly Grab, Sexual Assault Victim Advocate
  • David  recognizing Marquita Brown, TPEC Cottage Support volunteer
  • Stephanie Locke recognizing Elizabeth Jamieson and Bliss Kid Yoga
  • Nancy Salazar recognizing Kaye and David McKee, A Spacious Place

Finally, the SAFE Board Chair Nelia Robbi and Senior Director of Family Shelter, Children’s Services, and Charter Schools Yvette Mendoza Rouen recognized the Frankie Fowler Volunteer of the Year Winner: Tamara Kindt, a Shelter Support Volunteer who has been a SAFE volunteer since 1992!

Nelia Robbi and Volunteer Supervisor Tessa Kisielewski also recognized Community Champion Volunteer Group of the Year Winner: Brandon Christenson and Friends, aka “Brandon’s Group.”

Two female-identified people stand on either side of a male-identified person.

Community Champion Volunteer Group of the Year Winner Brandon Christenson and friends, aka “Brandon’s Group.”

Nelia Robbi wanted to share a few words after all the awards went out. She recognized that as volunteers, they are not always kept in the loop of the happenings of SAFE. She talked about our amazing new Elizabeth Ann Seton House opening up for survivors of sex trafficking and went into detail about the strategic plan for SAFE. She thanked everyone in the room for their patience with the community room’s refresh (it’s been a process – trust us). But, mostly, she was just grateful, like we all are, for the people we depend upon the most.

“SAFE relies on each and every one of you and the giving of your time, talent, and heart,” she said. “ We appreciate it so much.”

With that, we were able to enjoy our photo shoots and snack on the sweets and treats. But mostly, everyone was excited for the always-anticipated raffle, where we were able to give out an exciting gift card to every volunteer in attendance, thanks to our incredible sponsors.

A graphic thanking sponsors that contributed to SAFE's Volunteer Celebration. The graphic is framed with illustrations of bees, honeycombs, and yellow flowers. The sponsors include Banger’s Sausage House & Beer Garden, Big Swig, Book People, Chuy’s Tex Mex, Hanks, Holy Roller, Moonshine Grill, Ramen Tatsu-ya, Sanctuary Yoga, Thundercloud Subs, Uchi, Waterloo Ice House, and Platinum Sponsors Fred and Debbie Landry and Tokyo Electron.


We’ll leave the Queen Bee with the final thought, “Stay encouraged, stay strong…stay in the race.” Bee safe out there, little larvae.