The winner of the Invest in Others 2021 Community Service Award is Roger S. Green, CEO and president of Green Financial Resources, for his work with Auditory-Verbal Center Inc., which provides auditory-verbal and audiological services to children.
“Inspired by the Auditory-Verbal Center’s extraordinary impact on his son, Roger Green has paid it forward as an advocate, fundraiser, and leader,” said Megan McAuley, executive director of the Invest in Others Charitable Foundation. “Under his guidance, the organization has doubled its service capacity – a testament to Roger’s passion and dedication for helping others like his son.”
The foundation celebrated Green as the winner with a video presentation released on Tuesday. The live celebration of the group’s 15th annual awards in Boston was canceled this year due to the pandemic. Winners of the other categories will be announced later this week.
The two finalists in this category were Ruben Rozental at PGI Wealth Management for his work with Commit and Act (US) and Elizabeth M. Shabaker at Versant Capital Management for her work with Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona.
Each of the finalists will receive $20,000 for their charities and Green will receive $50,000 for Auditory-Verbal Center Inc.
Profiles about the winner and finalists are below and were written by Deborah Nason.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD WINNER ROGER S. GREEN
CEO and president, Green Financial Resources
It may seem incredible, but the Auditory-Verbal Center in Atlanta teaches profoundly deaf people to hear and function completely within the hearing world — without needing sign language.
The so-called auditory-verbal approach is geared toward children up to age 5 who have cochlear implants because hearing aids are not effective for them. Over the course of three to four years, AV therapists teach students to translate the beeps and clicks they perceive from the implants into English. With practice, they can understand spoken language and respond with speech.
Roger S. Green, president and CEO of Green Financial Resources in Duluth, Georgia, first became involved with the program in 1991, when he enrolled his profoundly deaf son Michael, who is now a financial adviser in his father’s practice). Since 2013, the elder Green has been an active fundraiser and board member of the organization.
Despite the effectiveness of AV, Green believes only about 10% of eligible children are reached because it’s not well-known within the medical community.
The impact on the children’s lives is dramatic, he said.
“They will make twice as much over their careers [versus individuals who use sign language],” Green said. “They don’t have to live a life of poverty. And they can pretty much do everything.”
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD FINALIST ELIZABETH SHABAKER
CEO, Versant Capital Management
The motto of Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, “art plus mentors equals resilience,” encapsulates the power of the arts to build the life skills of abused and neglected children.
Elizabeth Shabaker, CEO of Versant Capital Management in Phoenix, Arizona, has volunteered for the Phoenix metro chapter for the past eight years. It serves some 6,000 area children per year, providing weekly meetings with individual mentors who help their mentees express themselves through artistic pursuits such as writing, music, dance, etc. The non-profit also runs summer camps focused on theater and music, and holds events that enable the children to participate in arts, such as painting or ballet.
“Our mentors create trustworthy relationships where the children can express their feelings in a safe way,” Shabaker said. “Hopefully by becoming more resilient, they won’t repeat the same patterns they’ve grown up with.”
What does resiliency look like in the children?
“They’re braver and stronger. Their body language is different. They express their feelings in a safe and positive way. They start mentoring other children,” Shabaker said. “We’re helping them build the strength to make healthy decisions about their own responses. We’re giving them hope.”
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD FINALIST RUBEN ROZENTAL
Financial adviser, PGI Wealth Management
Can one heal the hearts and minds of a traumatized country? Ruben Rozental and the international non-profit Commit and Act are determined to try. An investor adviser representative with PGI Wealth management in Miami, Florida, Rozental has been the primary U.S. fundraiser for the organization since 2016.
Since 2010, Commit and Act has been providing large and small group trauma therapy and other services to the inhabitants of diamond-producing Sierra Leone, one of the most impoverished countries in the world. Groups range from 20 to 100 participants.
Another innovative avenue of therapy is couples counseling, whereby the spouses are given a plot of land to work together, with the aim of enabling husbands to see wives as equal partners, not liabilities.
In addition to the psychological therapy, Commit and Act runs two shelters for young female victims of violence, with six more planned.
Although its 11-year civil war ended in 2002, Sierra Leone has continued to deal non-stop with widespread atrocities such as gang warfare and domestic abuse.
“With our therapy and support, we try to give them a way to come to terms with all the violent events they’ve experienced and create the life of their dreams,” Rozental said.
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