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2020 CARE Awards

July 20, 2020

C - Compassion

A - Advocacy

R - Respect

E - Excellence

We had winners this year in four different categories.

Congratulations to the following recipients:

Self-Advocate Award - Missy Davis

Hero with Heart Award - Tom Hehmeyer

Direct Service Award - Naomi Shifferly

Community Partner Award - Becky Pittman

Self-Advocate Award - Missy Davis

Missy is involved in multiple self-advocacy groups in Richland County and is an active participant for each of them. She participates in Aktion Club, Best Buddies, and serves at the Sergeant-In-Arms for People First. Missy is a strong advocate for people's rights and is not afraid to speak up for herself and others.

She said People First has taught her how to stand up for herself and has helped her find her voice. “First you have to find your voice, then when you need something, voice it.” 

Missy said she was excited that she was nominated.  “I’m happy that we get awards and are recognized.  I appreciate the award!”


Hero with Heart Award - Tom Hehmeyer

Tom has served as the Richland County Special Olympics Coordinator since 1979. He has served as the head coach for many sports at one time or another. During his coaching career, Tom has coached countless athletes in bowling, basketball, softball, golf, volleyball, and track & field.

Tom has dedicated his life to caring for and supporting people with developmental disabilities, both on and off the playing field. He is passionate about ensuring that his athletes are afforded the same opportunities as others to experience the life-changing power of sports.  Tom is dedicated to helping them develop physical and mental skills while instilling in them the value of health and fitness, work ethic, teamwork, friendship, responsibility, courage, and determination.

As a coach, he is a master of both motivation and education, breaking down complex skills into simpler tasks and encouraging individuals to learn and progress at their own pace. He has also shown a tremendous ability to adjust to different personalities and skill levels to find a way to connect with each and every athlete in a way that makes them feel like they belong.

Above all, Tom encourages his athletes to compete to the best of their ability and to constantly seek improvement. As an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities and an ambassador for the Special Olympics movement, Tom has made a lasting impression in his community. Through his unwavering commitment and longevity in the program, he has passed on his passion for Special Olympics to dozens of volunteers and coaches who have been inspired to join the cause.


Direct Service Award - Naomi Shifferly

Naomi has provided outstanding care and support for Monica over the past 22 years as an Independent Provider.

She is an example of a person who makes the world a better place to live in. Her selfless willingness to help others in need without recognition is extremely rare to find this day and age.

Naomi has shown patience and love above and beyond in many stressful situations over the years. Naomi is flexible with scheduling and always willing to fill in if needed. She is never late, is always early, and seldom if ever, misses work.

She is easy to work with and does a fantastic job of communicating. Naomi has shown exemplary faithful and reliable qualities of what a provider should possess. She has displayed outstanding character and has been trustworthy through her many years of service.

She said she loves her client like she is her own child.

Naomi said it was an honor to receive the award. 


Community Partner Award - Becky Pittman

Over the past 11 years Becky Coordinator of the Music and the Arts at First English Lutheran Church, has visited the individuals at RNI, Inc. 4th St. location and the Options program, which is a day service for older adults.

Becky's music therapy does not simply bring some songs to the individuals,' she brings a whole experience. Becky makes sure she knows each individual's name and often makes sure to sing it out to each person during her visits, so everyone feels included.

Becky also makes sure that she is not the only one taking center stage. She encourages those who may tend to hide their light under a bushel to feel safe and empowered so they can sing out. For those who aren't shy, she makes sure to spotlight them and encourages their talents.

Becky has provided choir classes to individuals of all ages, and she gears her program to the audience. She ensures that the songs she sings are from the individual's era, which is a great way to help those folks memories.

While Becky herself is a talented flute player and singer, she provides a wide variety of instruments during her choir program so that individuals of all abilities can participate. While one individual may be able to play the guitar along with her, she makes sure she has instruments that even individuals with the most limited range of motion can make a joyful noise and participate with the group.

She has gone above and beyond to work with RNI, Inc. staff to include those we serve in her new classes.

Becky said she was quite surprised and humbled when she received the letter in the mail stating she had received this award!

“I absolutely love using music as the universal language to help people build relationships with one another!  It has the power to change lives, and it is a wonderful gift that one can give AND receive.  It breaks down barriers and builds up bridges.”

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