CARMEL, Ind., June 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- CNO Financial Group, Inc. (NYSE: CNO) - In celebration of her extraordinary contributions to and selfless work within the community, Jo St. John of Indianapolis, president of the Indianapolis chapter of Newborns in Need, was honored this week at a Washington, D.C. awards gala where 85 Americans were recognized with the 38th annual Jefferson Awards, regarded as one of the nation's highest honors for community service and volunteerism.
Known as the "Nobel Prize for public service," the awards are presented each year in a star-studded ceremony in the nation's capital where a broad array of honorees are recognized -- from high-profile individuals who have dedicated the better part of their lives to public service to celebrated professional athletes to largely unheralded community-based volunteers. Also recognized are organizations -- companies that represent the pinnacle in corporate citizenship and schools that best reflect the Jeffersonian ideals of citizen involvement.
St. John is a database manager at CNO Financial Group, Inc. in Carmel, Ind. In 2001, she decided that she would like to use her hobbies of knitting, crocheting and sewing to make hats for premature babies at local hospitals. She connected with Newborns in Need in Upland, Ind. Newborns in Need is an organization that provides essentials for infants during the first 30-60 days of life to ensure that they have strong and healthy starts. Soon, St. John started the Indianapolis chapter of the organization, of which she still serves as president. Under her leadership, the chapter has grown from 5 volunteers to 75 and is today one of the largest and most active chapters in the United States. The work groups St. John leads have donated nearly 200,000 items to needy babies, each month serving over 150 families who live below the poverty line.
This year's Jefferson Awards honorees also include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, Partners in Health founder Paul Farmer, M.D., Goodwill Industries International President/CEO Jim Gibbons and Tad Skylar Agoglia, the founder of the First Response Team of America. Also recognized for their community involvement are two professional athletes: Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and Charlotte Bobcats player Tyrus Thomas.
"For almost four decades, the Jefferson Awards have celebrated the best in public service," said Sam Beard, founder and president of the American Institute for Public Service and The Jefferson Awards. "While we have been pleased to honor many prominent individuals over the years who have given back selflessly to their communities and the world around them, we recognize that some of the most extraordinary gestures of volunteerism and generosity come from individuals like Jo who rarely get the recognition that they so richly deserve. On behalf of the Jefferson Awards, a collective thanks and congratulations."
About the Jefferson Awards
Co-founded in 1973 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Senator Robert Taft Jr. and Sam Beard, The Jefferson Awards annually celebrate America's commitment to public service. Recognizing both the famous and the unknown, individuals and organizations, the young and old, the awards reflect one of the founding ideals of our nation, that of contributing toward the larger good. As Thomas Jefferson himself wrote, "Private charities as well as contributions to public purposes in proportion to everyone's circumstances are certainly among the duties we owe to society."
The Jefferson Award recipients are nominated from throughout the country and selected by the organization's board of directors, who include Hank Aaron, the Hon. Julian Bond, Cris Collinsworth, Michael Douglas, Whoopi Goldberg, the Hon. Mitch McConnell, the Hon. Harry Reid, Neil Simon, Leslie Stahl and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend. Honorees are chosen on the basis of two main criteria: the outstanding nature of the acts of service and the impact on the community of those acts. Past recipients of the award include Lance Armstrong, Hubert Humphrey, Dr. C. Everett Koop, General Colin Powell and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
CNO Financial Group, Inc. is a holding company. Our insurance subsidiaries - principally Bankers Life and Casualty Company, Colonial Penn Life Insurance Company and Washington National Insurance Company - serve working American families and seniors by helping them protect against financial adversity and provide for a more secure retirement. For more information, visit CNO online at www.CNOinc.com.
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