First Lady Cecilia Abbott, OneStar Foundation Announce 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Awards Recipients

AUSTIN, Texas, Oct. 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott, Honorary Chair of the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Awards, announced recipients of the 38th annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards. These awards — presented with OneStar Foundation — honor the exemplary service of individuals/organizations that have made a significant and measurable contribution through service and volunteering in the past year. 

Awardees were selected for engaging in volunteer service that effectively addresses a critical need, makes a sustained positive impact, and inspires others to get involved.

This year, the Governor’s Volunteer Awards introduced three new categories to address the ever-evolving volunteer landscape: Innovation in Volunteerism, Excellence in Disaster Volunteering, and Volunteer Family of the Year. These award categories highlight resilience and adaptability needed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Texans truly are generous by nature," said Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott. "I am so inspired by the generosity and selfless dedication demonstrated by volunteers across this great state over this past year. Now more than ever, we need to embrace our communities. I am thrilled to recognize this year’s 11 outstanding awardees for leading the way." 

"All of this year’s awardees have exhibited an enduring commitment to service in even the most extraordinary circumstances," said Chris Bugbee, OneStar President and CEO. "They have persevered in spite of the pandemic and have risen to the challenge of meeting this year’s exceptional community needs. We are grateful to these incredible awardees for making a difference in the lives of so many Texans."

Awardees will be honored at an online awards ceremony hosted by Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott. Recipients are: 

  • Chuck & Gena Norris (Navasota): Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award: Known as an actor and martial arts legend, Chuck Norris, alongside his wife Gena, has channeled his skills and celebrity into helping youth develop the mental and physical strength to deal with life’s challenges.
  • Cindy Brinker Simmons (Dallas/Fort Worth): Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award: Simmons has devoted her life to uplifting pediatric cancer patients throughout Texas and supporting those battling illness, hopelessness, or isolation.
  • Betty Ann Taylor (Houston): Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award: For 24 years, Taylor has run the Year-Round Manna Ministry, a program of Chapelwood United Methodist Church that builds a bridge of hope for families in crisis in Houston.
  • Hannah Guan (San Antonio): First Lady’s Rising Star Volunteer Award: At age 11, Hannah Guan founded San Antonio Math Include to offer greater access to STEM education, serving more than 36,000 students around the world.
  • Madan G. Luthra (Houston): Volunteer of the Year Award: Since COVID-19, Madan G. Luthra has volunteered more than 30 hours a week to support families in distress through Sewa International’s Family Services program. 
  • Richard & Linda Zoll (Houston): Volunteer Family of the Year: The Zolls have served with SEARCH Homeless Services for over 20 years, from preparing and serving meals to essentially adopting one of the sites at which SEARCH’s clients reside.
  • Diamondback Energy, Inc. (Midland/Permian Basin): Corporate Volunteering Champion Award: Diamondback Energy, Inc. has channeled their support for local public schools, contributing about 430 hours of service and over $5.2 million dollars to the Permian Basin community since 2020.
  • The Edinburg High School Chapter of the National Honor Society (Edinburg): Service-Learning Champion Award: EHS’s National Honor Society was instrumental in setting up and preparing for drive-by distributions and handed out more than 10,000 free books to students whose families are financially challenged.
  • Hookset Brothers Combat Recovery 501c3 (Bullard): Innovation in Volunteerism Award: Hookset Brothers Combat Recovery provides free hunting and fishing trips to aid veterans recovering from combat-related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Somebody Cares America (Houston): Excellence in Disaster Volunteerism Award: During times of disaster, Somebody Cares America (SCA) mobilizes local churches and partner organizations to serve communities by providing financial and material resources along with training, manpower, leadership, and expertise.
  • Nuria A. Diallo Padro (San Antonio): National Service "Make a Difference" Award: As an AmeriCorps member with Communities In Schools of San Antonio, Diallo Padro raised emergency funds to deliver grocery gift cards and partnered with the San Antonio Food Bank and the local school district to host a Mobile Food Pantry, providing food support to 450 families.

Click here for information about the winners and the contributions they have made. 

About OneStar
OneStar strengthens Texas communities by creating pathways for individuals and organizations to engage, connect and accelerate their impact. We advance service and volunteering as effective solutions to our state’s toughest social challenges. We are recognized as a statewide voice for the Texas nonprofit sector and a respected partner to foundations, state agencies and the business community. Born from state government in 1974, we carry out our mission with direction and guidance from the Office of the Texas Governor. Learn more at

For more information, call Joelle Polisky, 615-516-0358.

SOURCE OneStar Foundation

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