At New York's Cipriani restaurant on 42nd Street, Volvo presented its fifth annual Volvo for Life Awards and named Rose Mapendo, an African refugee and mother of ten, as its Grand Award Winner in the Quality of Life category. The panel of judges -- who included Caroline Kennedy, Maya Lin, Paul Newman, Val Kilmer, and previous winners -- selected Rose because of her Mapendo Organization's refugee outreach work. Rose was nominated for the award by Susan Sarandon.
Nearly ten years ago, Rose was being tortured in a Congolese prison after escaping the Rwandan genocide. Now her organization, which works with the UN and the US Department of State, works to make sure that others like her don't get left behind. In earning the title of "America's Greatest Hometown Hero," Rose won a $50,000 contribution to the charity of her choice, and a new Volvo every three years for the rest of her life. The other top category winners in Safety and in Environment each get $50,000 donated to the charity of their choice.
The Volvo for Life Awards is the largest national search for local heroes, and this year, in addition to the regular award winners, they picked five heroes from every state for special mention. Volvo of North America provides $1 million every year in awards and contributions. This year, the award ceremony was hosted by Benjamin Bratt, and awards were presented by Hank Aaron, Sen. Bill Bradley, and Dr. Sally Ride. You can read about the ceremony, the hometown heroes in your state, and winners in all of the categories here.