2021 Angel Awards winners inspire community connections

For 14 years, Vegas Inc reached out to our community to identify some of the valley’s most notable philanthropic leaders for the annual Angel Awards. These awards recognize deserving companies and individuals whose visionary leadership and commitment to philanthropic ideas and actions have advanced the lives of those who live here. The winners were nominated by the public and reviewed by a panel of past Angel Award recipients based on their service to our community, their accomplishments and their leadership.

This year we recognize three incredible people who each have a lasting and direct impact in the valley, especially with our youngest residents. We also spotlight four generous companies that go above and beyond to make sure everyone in our community is taken care of and has the opportunity to survive and thrive.

We hope that as you read the stories of each of our Angel Award winners, you will be inspired by their actions and encouraged to find your own niche in the charitable landscape of southern Nevada.

The Vegas Inc Angel Awards 2021 originally appeared in a special issue of Vegas Inc.’s Giving Guide.Register nowto receive each of Vegas Inc’s Special Posts in your inbox on the day they are released.

Humanitarian of the Year: Christina Vela, DPP

Chief Executive Officer, St. Jude Ranch for Kids | stjudesranch.org

Dr. Christina Vela has been dedicated to serving the children and youth in our community for over two decades. For Vela, every child holds the key to a better future for all of us.

“When we do not invest in the hope and healing of children and youth in need, there is the potential for tremendous loss, loss of opportunity and growth that can impact everyone,” Vela said.

Most recently, Vela led the concept of the St. Jude Children’s Ranch Healing Center, a specialized program for sexually trafficked children that will provide a nurturing and therapeutic environment, survivor advocates and other essential services. As the only residential treatment center of its kind, it will serve as a national prototype to break the cycle of violence for these victims.

Vela is also the coordinator of the Nevada State Coalition to Prevent Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and supports other community organizations including The Rape Crisis Center, Cupcake Girls and the BE A SHERO Foundation.

Volunteer of the Year: Serafin Calvo

Manager of Parking Services and Homeless Services, North City of Las Vegas

One of nine children, Serafin Calvo grew up in downtown Las Vegas projects. It was the kindness and generosity of others during this time, and a powerful experience during his mission in the church, that fueled Calvo’s lifelong dedication to serving others all these years later.

Calvo’s biggest secret comes in the form of a healthy dose of holiday cheer. After finding out that it was a secret Santa who made sure his family had presents every Christmas morning, he now pours it out, doing the same for other families in need, and has done so for three decades.

“Once you see how much of an impact you can make in someone’s life, you’ll never be the same again,” Calvo said.

Calvo is also an active volunteer and member of the advisory board of Project 150, a local non-profit organization that helps homeless and disadvantaged high school students by providing basic needs as well as mentoring and scholarships, helping these young people to graduate and lead a prosperous future.

Philanthropic Company of the Year (Private): Grand Canyon Development Partners


Giving back to the community is embedded in the corporate culture of Grand Canyon Development Partners. As a construction and development company, it provides pro bono services for several projects across the Valley each year.

Currently, the company is involved in the development of the new campus for the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater Las Vegas, with the goal of providing a “home away from home” for families and children who receive inpatient or outpatient medical treatment. for illnesses and injuries in local hospitals. He is also responsible for the development of St. Jude’s Ranch for Children’s Healing Center, a treatment center for victims of sex trafficking and exploitation.

GCDP also supported the development and construction efforts of CORE Academy, Noah’s Animal House and Southern Nevada Children First. And there are no plans to stop. As part of its Developing Dreams rewards program, created by GCDP President Sam Nicholson, the company aims to help community nonprofits build their dream projects “one brick at a time”.

Non-Profit Organization of the Year: Cleveland Clinic Nevada


The Alzheimer’s Association ranks Nevada as the third fastest aging state in the country, with age being the biggest risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. At the Cleveland Clinic Nevada, doctors and staff work tirelessly to reduce the impact of Alzheimer’s disease on our vulnerable community.

The Cleveland Clinic established Nevada’s first and only Alzheimer’s disease research center with a $ 3.3 million grant from the National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. They also championed the first national center dedicated to women for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease with Maria Shriver.

“The Cleveland Clinic is constantly looking for new ways to connect the communities we serve with the care they need, especially where the gaps between need and supply are greatest,” said Dr. Dylan Wint, Director from the Cleveland Clinic Nevada.

The Cleveland Clinic is unique in the breadth and scope of free educational, therapeutic and support services available to patients and families. He also developed the Healthy Brains Initiative to educate and empower people to take a proactive approach to brain health with a free online community, brain health assessments and personalized reports available at HealthyBrains.org.

Cultural Defender of the Year: Diane Mifsud

Director of Arts in Medicine, Cure 4 La Children’s Foundation | cure4thekids.org

Professional artist in Las Vegas for more than 25 years, Diane Mifsud wanted to have an impact on the lives of children. She created Project Imagine as a creative outlet for children with illnesses, facilitating art, music, photography and literary exploration sessions as an exclusive medicine arts program at Cure 4 The Kids Foundation.

“We provide a safe and creative space in the clinic, giving children the opportunity to express and resolve unspoken feelings through the arts,” Mifsud said.

Through Project Imagine, Mifsud strives to improve their quality of life and empower children with serious health problems through creative expression, knowing that these actions can contribute to treatment success, reduce anxiety and provide comfort to pediatric patients, their families and caregivers. The results are simply amazing.

“Seeing the faces of the children as they come out of their predicament and explore their own creativity has been a real honor,” Mifsud said.

Foundation of the Year: Rotary Foundation of Las Vegas


The Rotary Foundation of Las Vegas is the principal foundation of the Rotary Club of Las Vegas, the first service club established in Las Vegas in 1923. Rotary has continuously supported the community for nearly 100 years through voluntary contributions from club members, partners of the foundation and thousands of volunteer hours in support of local programs.

The primary focus of Rotary remains children and students. Its annual reading program, in partnership with Spread the Word, provides $ 25,000 in new books each year to elementary students in struggling schools. And its Santa Clothes program provides a week of clothes, jackets and shoes for low-income children. Over 25 years, the program has provided $ 1.5 million in services and donations and has helped approximately 6,000 children in Las Vegas.

Rotary’s additional charitable efforts include providing more than 100 wheelchairs to residents with disabilities in need last year in partnership with the Nevada Wheelchair Foundation and partnering with the local Kiwanis club to donate over 100,000 food items. non-perishable annually to the Salvation Army.

Philanthropic Business of the Year (Public): Nevada Gold Mines, operated by Barrick


Community means more than just a group of people living in a larger society. For Nevada Gold Mines, community means helping each other. The community is the state of participating in something bigger than oneself, ”said Greg Walker, executive general manager of Nevada Gold Mines.

With a commitment to equity in education, Nevada Gold Mines, operated by Barrick, invests in youth by partnering with schools and universities, sponsoring scholarships and internships, and supporting scholarship programs. skilled trades and other educational initiatives, all with the goal of helping Nevadans reach their full potential. potential. For NGM, it all starts with education.

NGM is a proud supporter of Communities in Schools, donating $ 320,000 to help improve the physical and mental health of at-risk students in Kindergarten to Grade 12. The company has also provided schools with access to Chromebooks for distance learning, invested in teacher training and leadership initiatives, supported efforts to increase education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and has worked to ensure the inclusion of women and communities of color.

Additionally, since the start of the pandemic, NGM has donated $ 3.7 million to statewide programs, such as the COVID-19 Task Force and the Governor’s Discovery Education, $ 350,000 to Native American tribal partners and over $ 250,000 to support food programs, such as Three Square and Deliver with Dignity.

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