Outstanding CHOICE Volunteers are Recognized by Utah Philanthropy Day Awards

In fall of 2022, the Utah Philanthropy Day Awards recognized three CHOICE volunteers: Craig Knight, Danielle Bowen, and Steve Whittaker. Learn how these generous individuals have put their time and talents into CHOICE's mission.

The Utah Philanthropy Day Awards

Since 1999, the Association of Fundraising Professionals Utah, Utah Nonprofits Association, and UServeUtah have celebrated and recognized Utahns who have made waves in the world of philanthropy. For 24 years, the Utah Philanthropy Day Luncheon has presented awards to honor various individuals and organizations for their dedication to philanthropy. CHOICE Humanitarian has had the privilege of working with three volunteers who were the recipients of the Heart & Hands award at the fall 2022 ceremony. As explained by Utah Philanthropy, this award acknowledges those people who make significant contributions to an organization's mission through their volunteer or philanthropic service. Craig Knight, Danielle Bowen, and Steve Whittaker are three such individuals who were well-deserved recipients because of their longtime generosity to CHOICE.   

Craig's Trademark Willingness

Craig Knight was introduced to CHOICE through Brit Meyer, formerly CHOICE’s Director for Measurement and Evaluation and Craig’s nominator for the award. Brit noted: "If anyone at CHOICE Humanitarian asks Craig Knight to do something, he’s on it. It’s this trademark willingness—combined with his quiet, hard-working approach and passion for our mission to reduce world poverty—that makes him a standout and valuable volunteer.” 

Brit described that since 2019, Craig has helped with the setup and tear down of half a dozen CHOICE events, and graciously used his personal resources to shuttle supplies and move items. Craig has contributed over 300 hours to CHOICE, and he has continued to be a great asset to the CHOICE community. 

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Caption: Craig on an CHOICE expedition to Peru

In chatting with Craig, we were able to ask what really drew him to CHOICE, and what he enjoyed about it. “I enjoy interacting with people who share the same desire to make a positive difference in life.” Craig continued, “CHOICE provides me and others with opportunities we otherwise would not have. CHOICE is a vehicle for people's desire to serve.” Craig has gone on a few CHOICE expeditions: the Navajo Nation on multiple occasions and once in Peru with his granddaughter. “Both places are very special to me.” 

Danielle's Design Contributions

Danielle Bowen, another outstanding volunteer, has been credited with a great amount of graphic design work for CHOICE. When CHOICE made a concerted effort to increase the quality of its communications materials, Danielle stepped up to help. Nominated by Sara Nelson, CHOICE’s Director of Strategic Engagement and Communications, Danielle has been credited with an impressive amount of graphic design work. Said Sara, “Danielle conceived the layout of new sections for an upgraded Annual Report; she explored creative uses of the logo, colors, and style guide; and she homed in on a branded look that communicated respectability and expertise for our nonprofit.” 

Sara notes that CHOICE received such incredible feedback from donors and supporters on the design aesthetics of the 2020 Annual Report that she asked Danielle to design it again in 2021, to which she generously said yes. Danielle has also supported CHOICE with graphic design collateral for the annual gala, bringing her donated work to 100+ hours. CHOICE is grateful to have Danielle as a part of its volunteer family through both her creative skills and her longtime support, including being a repeat participant on CHOICE expeditions.

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Caption: Danielle on a CHOICE expedition to Kenya

Danielle was willing to chat with us to discuss what CHOICE meant to her, and how she was introduced into the world of CHOICE. “I worked for Niels Valentiner’s company, VCBO Architecture, for 27 years, and started out in administration. Niels [former board chair of CHOICE Humanitarian] asked me if I would be willing to do some newsletter layouts for CHOICE.” That was in the early 90s, and Danielle has been with CHOICE ever since. She said, “Several people I have met through CHOICE are life-long friends and mentors. The villagers also have had an impact—showing that just being aware of them makes a positive impression on them.” Danielle has done a number of projects for CHOICE, but she notes that the annual reports have been her favorite project to work on.  

Steve's Giving Attitude 

Steve Whittaker is another volunteer who has done amazing work for CHOICE behind the scenes, and his effort has been nothing short of inspiring. Lonny Ward, CHOICE’s Director of Operations and Steve’s nominator, noted that with over 1,000 hours of volunteer work for CHOICE, Steve has become a valuable member of the volunteer team.  

Lonny shared this about Steve: “His ‘ready to help however’ attitude has plugged him into valuable needs for our organization, such as developing and consulting on internal programs, photographing events, and providing logistical AV for a global staff conference with attendees from 7 countries around the world.” 

Steve currently serves as a volunteer Project Manager overseeing the creation of graphical training supplements for agricultural curriculum. Steve has a deep history with CHOICE, being first introduced by CHOICE co-founder James B. Mayfield, and then getting in contact with Lonny Ward after Steve retired. He found that working with CHOICE gave him an approach to helping that matched his own viewpoint, specifically when it came to poverty. “The impoverished know their needs better than I do. It is incumbent on me to watch and listen and then help villagers martial the resources necessary to begin the process of lifting them out of poverty.”

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Caption: Steve with the CHOICE Central Office team at the West Jordan, Utah, offices.

When asked about the ability to work with underserved rural communities and his belief in humanitarian work, Steve continued: “My philosophy is that as world citizens we need to care for three things: our family, our community, and the world. CHOICE gives me the opportunity to meet with my world family and make my humble contribution. I have really enjoyed meeting the country staff as well as my friends in headquarters. It has broadened my worldview and given me the sense that I am helping to make a difference.” 

CHOICE is grateful to have volunteers such as Craig, Danielle, and Steve to help continue our mission. Their awards are well-earned, and their work is greatly appreciated by the CHOICE community.

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