LIMA - When traveling to Washington, D.C., for the national Jefferson Awards ceremony, Sandra Monfort only wanted to represent well her community and the charity for which she's worked so hard.
Though Monfort wasn't a national award winner, she accomplished her goal through events and the Tuesday night dinner.
"I was very excited to represent our community, Camp Sunrise and kidney donation," Monfort said. "I wanted to make anyone who supported me to be proud. Hopefully I did that."
Monfort, the local 2008 Jefferson Award for Public Service winner, has been a counselor at Camp Sunrise since its inception in 1994.
The camp caters to children with HIV and AIDS and those with family members who are infected or have died from the disease. She sought out such a program when a woman she had worked with through juvenile court came looking for help. She had two children and was dying of AIDS.
Monfort said she had an "incredible" night and was in awe of winners and people from across the country honored as local Jefferson Award winners like her.
"I'm just one person trying to help my community and make a difference and all the individuals I've met are just the same," she said. "That's the spirit of the Jefferson Awards."
Monfort is director of the Western Ohio Regional Treatment and Habilitation Center and Lima school board president. She is involved in numerous community activities, including volunteering with the Lima Police Department Exchange Club Roller Hockey League and supporting the Lima middle schools soccer program.
Last fall, Monfort also literally gave of herself, donating a kidney to a co-worker. Ed Monfort, Sandra's husband, nominated her for the award. She attended the dinner Tuesday with her husband, children and other family members, all of whom have supported her work and some of whom have volunteered themselves with Camp Sunrise.
The $1,000 she received at the local ceremony will send a child to Camp Sunrise.
The Lima News, WLIO and The United Way of Greater Lima co-sponsor the local Jefferson Awards.
The national program was begun in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Sen. Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard, to establish a Nobel Prize of sorts for public and community service. The awards have always honored ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward, according to the group's Web site.