NSPN Announces 2021 Award Recipients

National Safe Place Network (NSPN) recognized several individuals, organizations, and businesses during its 2021 national awards ceremony on Wednesday, July 28 at the Focus 2021 national conference held at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

“We are honored to celebrate youth service professionals, volunteers, advocates, and community partners who have made a positive difference in the lives of youth and families,” said Laurie Jackson, President/CEO of NSPN. “The 2021 NSPN Award recipients have contributed their time, money, expertise, and voices to ensure youth safety and for that, we are grateful.”

NSPN is proud to recognize the following 2021 NSPN Award winners:

Model Program Award
This award recognizes agencies that have developed creative and innovative ways to improve service delivery to youth and their families. NSPN is thrilled to celebrate Bellefaire JCB’s Value “You” Campaign.

One of the important roles of this Bellefaire JCB’s team is to get involved before young people become victims of human trafficking. The "Value You" campaign is designed to help everyone recognize the warning signs of trafficking and develop the tools they need to protect themselves, their friends, and their loved ones. This video campaign and accompanying resources are used to educate the more than 4,000 teens, families, and community members served annually.

Click here to view the Value You campaign video.

Helping Hands Award
With limited resources, volunteers are often the unsung heroes of youth service organizations and are crucial to daily operations. This award recognizes an individual or group of volunteers who go above and beyond the call of duty. NSPN's 2021 Helping Hands Award goes to Anne and Dan Henriksen.

Anne and Dan Henriksen are the "adoptive grandparents" of the housing programs at 360 Youth Services (360). Anne first became involved with 360 Youth Services through her role with the Naperville Newcomers and Neighbors organization. She gathered over 30 volunteers to host an Etiquette Life Skills event and Prom for clients in the group home and transitional housing programs who didn't get to have a prom. Through that event, Anne got many other community members and the church that hosted the event involved in 360 Youth Services as mentors, sponsors, etc. Anne helped the organization get a grant from the Naperville Neighbors and Newcomers and assisted her church in becoming yearly donors. The church now sponsors the cost of repairs at 360’s programs. Anne and Dan left their other volunteer groups and have taken on lead “Volunteer Coordinator" positions at 360. Dan coordinated the recently retired men's group from his church to become repairmen. Every Thursday, they tackle a new project across all of 360’s locations. They have painted, put down new floors, patched walls, and taken dozens of trips to Home Depot. Anything needing fixed, they figure it out. When 360 launched an Emergency Shelter hotel program in January, Anne gathered neighbors to prepare home-cooked meals for the youth in the hotel and arranges for twice-weekly deliveries. Anne has helped remodel the group home and update staff offices to make them COVID friendly, finding new-to-us furniture. She engages anyone she can about the program and has brought greater awareness of 360 Youth Services to the surrounding community.

Click here to watch a video of Anne and Dan accepting their award.

Safe Place® Coordinator of the Year Award
This award recognizes the Coordinator who provides quality Safe Place program management and does so without expecting recognition for their invaluable efforts. NSPN is proud to recognize Hanna Tacha as the 2021 Safe Place Coordinator of the Year.

Hanna is an outstanding Safe Place Coordinator. She has all the skills you would want in a coordinator. She is as comfortable in front of a classroom of youth as she is leading a tour for funders. Her positive attitude, genuine caring, and passion for working with youth comes through in everything she does. She's creative in expressing her gratitude to volunteers and Safe Place partners. She understands the role of Safe Place in the broader community and often takes a leadership role in collaborations focused on at-risk youth such as the Oklahoma Coalition Against Human Trafficking. She has taken Youth Services of Tulsa’s (YST) Safe Place program to a new level in outreach to youth, recruitment, and support for volunteer Safe Place responders, and in engaging new Safe Place partners while strengthening relationships with existing partners. She's the epitome of a team player and has become an integral part of YST’s shelter team. She is a fierce advocate for youth and ensuring their voice is heard. She has a remarkable calming effect on young people in crisis. She always, always, always goes above and beyond. During the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Hanna has successfully maintained relationships with 25 volunteers and Safe Place partners that provide more than 250 neighborhood-based sites.

Community Involvement Award
This award recognizes a business, serving as a community partner, which has consistently gone above and beyond the expectations of a local program. The 2021 Community Involvement Award goes to Terrible Herbst.

Terrible Herbst and The Herbst Family have been long-time supporters of the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth (NPHY) and very active in community work. They helped launch NPHY’s Safe Place program and provide both in-kind and financial support through this partnership. Their 120+ area stores serve as 24-7-365 Safe Place sites for the Clark County Community. Terrible Herbst also provides support by offsetting Safe Place costs and outreach efforts. Terrible Herbst plays an active leadership role in the community, exemplified through their long-standing partnership and commitment to helping solve the issue of youth homelessness in Clark County, Nevada. 

Youth in Action Award
This award recognizes a young person or a group of young people, age 24 and under, whose efforts go above and beyond to make a difference in the lives of others. The 2021 Youth in Action Award goes to National Network for Youth’s National Youth Advisory Council.

National Network for Youth’s National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC) is a body of young people from across the United States striving to vocalize the needs of youth who have experienced homelessness by serving as ambassadors and engaging with the lawmakers, service providers, and community officials responsible for creating and implementing change. NYAC members grow as leaders for change and play a vital role in shaping NN4Y’s priorities and strategies. To date, NN4Y has trained over 35 National Youth Advisory Council members to take an active role in crafting a policy advocacy plan, speaking about federal policies that impacted their lives, and educating policymakers to transform systems. NYAC members represent every US region and 17 states: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

Culture of Respect Award
This award honors those who champion the cause of justice and equality. NSPN is honored to recognize Dr. Frank McAlpin with the 2021 Culture of Respect Award.

Dr. Frank McAlpin has served as an ambassador for all youth, including the LGBTQ+ community, throughout his career. He has served as a vital contributor to the Los Angeles LGBT Center and as a member of the National Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center advisory board. Dr. McAlpin describes himself as a global social justice advocate and is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. Dr. McAlpin demonstrates his understanding of the need for all youth to be valued and to feel safe and has said “no one should feel unsafe, unwanted, unloved, simply because they are alive and are who they were born to be.” He advocates at the local, state, and national level, and a simple Google search of his name will result in numerous articles, interviews, and stories where you can hear or read about his efforts to expand awareness and understanding of the needs of youth.

"I want to lift up all those who are doing this essential work in their own communities.
I seek to honor and celebrate you. " 

Click here to read Dr. Frank McAlpin's statement.

Executive Leadership Award
This award recognizes a leader who is consistently dedicated to staff and works hard to fulfill the mission of the youth service organization. This year's Executive Leadership Award goes to Susan Frankel.

Susan is guided by the vision of ending youth homelessness, and while she aims for that goal, she addresses the day-to-day needs of youth and families in crisis. Fueled by passion and empathy, Susan clearly articulates her vision, inspiring staff (and others) to believe and support the mission. She recognizes the role each team member plays and demonstrates her respect for them and their work. It is clear she believes that by taking care of her staff’s needs, she is helping empower them to care for youth and families in crisis. Since joining National Runaway Safeline (NRS), Susan has encouraged a culture of honest communication and collaboration. She has created social and emotional supports for staff, such as the Wellness Committee, and introducing clinical supervision to Crisis Services staff to enable them to maintain connections and process secondhand trauma. During the pandemic, when members of the crisis services team were isolated, working from home and responding to severe challenges shared by youth and families, Susan made certain every staff member at NRS prioritized self-care. She coordinated with an anonymous donor to deliver baked goods to everyone and provided gift cards for services such as online yoga and meditation classes. Additionally, she orchestrated measures to support staff and donors, such as wellness calls made by Board members. Following the civil unrest during the summer of 2020, Susan made it a priority to listen to and respond to the staff’s emotional and physical needs. She designated portions of staff meetings to discussions about people’s feelings and reactions, and she issued a personal statement encouraging staff to ask questions and share ideas on how to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Lastly, she truly cares about each person who reaches out to NRS for help and she inspires staff to give 110 percent effort to meet the needs of each individual, even when logistically difficult.

Essential Voice Award
This award recognizes a journalist, media outlet, or national spokesperson(s) for their contributions to increasing awareness of the needs of youth and those who serve them. The 2021 NSPN Essential Voice Award goes to Mark Horvath.

Mark Horvath has been an essential voice for homeless youth for decades. He challenges assumptions, stereotypes, systemic racism, adultism, and any other ism you can name – all in the hope of making a positive difference. Whether he is advocating at the local, state, or national level, or simply talking with a homeless youth about needs and dreams, he is nationally recognized as a truth-teller and agent of change. He battles NIMBY with his sword of compassion and conquers callous disregard by his unwavering ability to “not blink” when people say homeless kids will bring down neighborhood values. He knows all kids are our kids and he voices concerns and challenges and promotes innovations and solutions which force people to see the possibilities and to believe it can be achieved. His work with Invisible People amplifies voices and shares the stories of those who are so often overlooked.

"As homelessness continues to grow,
providing support for youth is crucial to any successful strategy to end homelessness."  

Access Mark's thank you note.

Together We Can Award
This award recognizes an individual whose attitude and actions demonstrate an extraordinary passion for serving young people, commitment to professional development, and courage to engage community support. The 2021 Together We Can Award goes to David Mount.

David Mount has worked diligently to create and sustain effective Safe Place partnerships in his community of Hampton Roads Virginia. He freely shares ideas and experiences with the hope of being one voice in a movement to improve the situations for youth in crisis. He has served on the National Safe Place Advisory Board for more than 10 years and has chaired the advocacy, quality enhancement, and Safe Place program committees. David has promoted the benefits of NSPN membership and uses his humor and wonderful, room-filling laugh to invite others into his world of generosity and lifelong commitment to youth.

        “For me, the Together We Can award represents a continuum of teams I have been affiliated with and who,
through emulating all of the qualifications for this award in themselves,
have provided me with a rich foundation of knowledge and experiences to work from and share.”

Access David's thank you note.

HEROES for Youth Award
This award recognizes individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the services provided to at-risk youth on a national scale. HEROES serves as an acronym for individuals who:

H     Hear the voices of at-risk youth
E     Engage in the discussion
R     Respond to the call
O     Observe the need for change
E     Educate and encourage key stakeholders to make a difference
S     Significantly change the lives of at-risk youth for the better

Dr. Diane Tanaka is a force of nature who comes in a small package and yet has the power to tackle huge obstacles. She is the Medical Director of the Teenage and Young Adult Health Center at the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Children’s Hospital of LA. In addition, she is the Medical Director of the Homeless Adolescent and Young Adult Wellness Clinic and the My Voice Adolescent Transition Program. The Homeless Adolescent and Young Adult Wellness Clinic provide medical care, mental health services, and case management of adolescents and young adults experiencing homelessness in the Hollywood area. The My VOICE Transition Program prepares adolescents and young adults with chronic health conditions to move from child-centered to adult-oriented health care systems.  She is a leader of the Hollywood Homeless Youth Partnership and a frequent contributor to the efforts of the National Safe Place Network. Her most frequent responses has been”yes” and “how can I help?” Her efforts to educate others on the impact of trauma, homelessness and other risk factors impacting adolescent well-being have improved the understanding of thousands across the country. She is our friend and she is definitely one of our HEROES.

Lifetime Achievement Awards

This award recognizes individuals whose distinguished record of professional achievements and accomplishments has improved the lives of youth and families across decades. NSPN is proud to recognize two recipients of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award, Mark Wolf and Susan Harmon. 

Mark Wolf has worked in the field of youth and family services for more than 40 years. As a young social worker, he found his calling when he began work at a group home in Florida. He knew he was in the right place not only because he loved working with youth but because he met the love of his life and soon-to-be wife who also worked in the same facility.

In his career, he has directed programs at the local, state, and national levels. He was responsible for bringing Safe Place® to his community in Tennessee in 1987 and he started the first Transitional Living and Street Outreach programs in the state. He led the K-Town Youth Empowerment Network to success and continued to build on his legacy of partnering with youth instead of doing things for youth. Prior to his retirement in 2020, this recipient spent 8 years as the director of training for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center as operated by NSPN. He is a nationally recognized trainer and is an internationally certified child and youth care worker who has consistently promoted professionalism in the field.

As a leader, he has served on the boards of the Southeastern Network, the Youth and Family Services Network and has been honored by the National Network for Youth, Tennessee Voices for Children, and the Child Welfare League of America.

One story tells you who he is. Early on in his career, the staff was determined to ensure he had an “upgrade to his office”. It was an uncomfortable room filled with boxes and the team knew it would be difficult for him to continue to work in the space. When approached by the staff with ideas, he simply stated - the work we do cannot be achieved behind a desk or a closed door. We need to be with the youth, learn from the youth, and then partner with the youth to make positive change if we are really going to do something that matters for a long time to come. I can’t do that from an office. 

"As I think back on my career, it is all the people I have met, worked with, and served that made it special.
I will always remember with fondness and appreciation the youth, families, colleagues, and community members
I had the good fortune to know and work with."

Access Mark's acceptance letter.

Susan Harmon has been one of the life forces behind Safe Place
® since 1990 when she became the local Safe Place coordinator in Louisville, Kentucky. She quickly embraced the mission of the program and worked to expand the community outreach effort to more than 400 local sites. In 1992 she became an inaugural member of the Safe Place Advisory Board and broad her own brand of compassion, humor, and storytelling to the national effort. This recipient soon joined the national staff and served as the National Director of Safe Place Operations up until just before her retirement in 2020. For 30 years, she has committed herself you youth safety, access to resources, expansion of the national model, and the development of resources to support the work of local Safe Place agencies.  Susan is not capable of holding back her emotions (or tears) as she talks of her commitment to youth, her belief in the Safe Place program, and her hopes she made a difference. Anyone who encountered her can attest to the fact that yes – she made a difference and her lifelong commitment to Safe Place will be remembered.

"I’m grateful for coworkers and colleagues that became friends, and for youth that became an inspiration to me.
I am appreciative of the experience I had and the opportunity to be an advocate for youth and families along the way."

Access Susan's acceptance statement.