Volunteer photographers who capture lasting images of children with cancer, a free basketball clinic for refugee children and safe centers for victims of abuse are among 25 non-profit efforts recognized by SelectHealth this year for making Utah a healthier place.
The health insurer's "Select 25" award comes with a $2,500 prize. Since the contest's inception in 2008, SelectHealth has invested a quarter-of-a-million dollars in 100 charities.
"It is an honor to be associated with these great organizations that do so much for our communities," said SelectHealth President and CEO Patricia Richards in a prepared statement.
Kristine DiFiore, executive director of Flashes of Hope, will use the $2,500 grant to pay for supplies to expand operations in Utah.
Last year volunteer Utah photographers and make-up artists, working with the Cleveland-based non-profit, provided free portraits to 181 kids with cancer and their families.
The group does monthly shoots at Camp Hobé, a summer camp in Salt Lake City for children with cancer and their siblings. Later this year, the charity will start working with Primary Children's Medical Center, transforming hospital playrooms and waiting areas into photo studios, said DiFiore.
"Most of these families don't have the ability to do a family portrait while undergoing treatment. They're busy and the kids are immunocompromised and can't go to a studio to have their portrait taken," she said. "Sadly, about a quarter of these kids won't survive. For some this is their last family photograph."
For children who beat the odds, the images are empowering, DiFiore said.
"I love watching teenage girls apprehensive and worried about the way they look, who, after the shoot feel more pride in their changing appearance. They love looking back at themselves and seeing that while they may have been sick, they weren't sickly," she said.
Awardees were honored at a banquet on Tuesday.
Jonathan Diener will use his award money to host more basketball clinics for African refugee children. The Alta High School basketball player started Hoops 4 Brighter Futures as an Eagle Scout project.
"Most of the kids came to the clinic in dress shoes or shoes that were too small with no support," he said in a statement. "We had one pair of basketball shoes as a prize for the hardest worker with the best attitude. When the winner was announced, others cried because of their desperate need for shoes."
Twitter: @kirstendstewart 2013 Select 25 winners
Brigham City Senior Center • Works with the Pickleball Association to bring generations together through play.
Cache County Meals on Wheels • Delivers meals to homebound seniors.
Low Vision Rehabilitations Services • Helps residents with vision loss to regain independence and hope.
Youth Impact • An after school program for at-risk youth.
Camp Hawkins • A summer camp for children with heart disease and their siblings.
Flashes of Hope Utah Chapter • Provides free portraits of children fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Safe Harbor Crisis Center • Offers shelter, services, and advocacy to domestic and sexual violence survivors.
Centro de la Familia de Utah Head Start • Subsidized preschool for low-income families.
Salt Lake City
Holy Cross Ministries: Promotora Program • Serving low-income families through education, health, outreach, and legal assistance.
Maliheh Free Clinic • Provides free health care to uninsured and low income individuals.
Neighborhood House, Neighborhood Community Garden • Provides a shared space to cultivate produce, community connections, and healthier lifestyles.
Salt Lake Community College, Know Greater Heroes • Teaches elementary school children how to eat right, get active and avoid drugs and alcohol.
U-FIT • A fitness program for children with disabilities and their parents and siblings.
Building Youth Around the World, Utah Navajo Nation Project • Provides life-saving care and compassion to children on a local, national, and worldwide level.
Hoops 4 Bright Futures • High school students providing free basketball clinics to refugee children.
Utah Valley Family Support Center • Provides child abuse prevention and treatment of emotional trauma.
Centro Hispano, ¡Déjalo Ya! • Helps families set goals to improve meal planning, grocery shopping, and physical activity.
South Franklin Community Center, South Franklin Soccer League • Develops healthy habits that can last a lifetime.
Lifting Hearts Breast Cancer Support Group • Monthly support group for newly diagnosed patients.
Koosharem Elementary • Updating playground equipment to be used by the school and the entire community.
Iron County Children's Justice Center • Provides services, including parenting courses, to families and victims of alleged abuse.
Safe Kids Iron County • Provides free car seats to needy families.
Assistance League of Southern Utah: Operation School Bell • Provides free clothing and school supplies to low-income students.
Community Education, Kidspace Afterschool Program • A safe, healthy learning environment for children after school.
Dixie State University, Dental Hygiene Outreach Program • A mobile dental clinic for underserved patients where transportation and expense are obstacles.