Jeri Hamilton Extraordinary Service Award

Dutch Bros and Dutch Bros Foundation (2024)

Dutch Bros has long been a staff favorite spot—we’re lucky to have a location right down the street from our campus. One of our students even wrote about them – they want to work at Dutch Bros when they grow up! Austin and Kelsey Smith, franchise regional operators, selected Serendipity for one of their Give Back Days, donating $1 per drink sold across their 8 locations. Their efforts raised over $7,000 in one day, with the foundation adding a generous $10,000 match. They repeated this incredible support with another Give Back Day, donating over $8,000!

This partnership exemplifies Dutch Bros’ dedication to community support and youth empowerment, and we are proud to call Dutch Bros a lifelong friend of Serendipity! We honor Dutch Bros and Dutch Bros Foundation with a 2024 Jeri Hamilton Extraordinary Service Award.

Each year, Serendipity honors those individuals and corporations whose efforts have enhanced Serendipity’s capacity to educate and nurture our children. Jeri Hamilton was presented with the first award in 2008. It has become tradition to conclude Serendipity’s annual event, Pearls of Hope, by honoring new extraordinary volunteers with an award presented in Jeri’s name.

Former Jeri Hamilton Extraordinary Service Award recipients:

Mark Kummerer and Phanna Pich (2023)

Mark Kummerer and Phanna Pich have been invested in Serendipity Center’s success since 2006, when Mark joined the Board of Directors. He proceeded to serve as Treasurer and on the Finance Committee for over 10 years. Even after he left our Board, Mark and Phanna continued to support our students by donating huge amounts of clothing every year, ensuring our clothing closet is always well-stocked. They have involved their friends in their giving, introducing as many community members as possible to our mission. Last year, Mark re-joined our Finance Committee and continues to be a valuable addition to our team. Thank you, Mark and Phanna for your service!

Pacific Office Automation (2022) 

Doug and Pacific Office Automation have been donors since 2009, and major donors since 2012. They have been our vendor since 2006. Over the years, they have been nimble in responding to our changing needs. When we were forced to close the school (quickly and unexpectedly) due to COVID in March 2020, we did not have the technology or the software platforms to accomplish virtual instruction. We were relying on packets, mailing home art supplies, school supplies, workbooks, activities, etc.  Literally thousands of dollars in postage expenses.  We reached out to Ethan, our wonderful sales rep, who arranged for two additional color copiers to be delivered at no charge, ASAP so that teachers could create packets at the rate we were needing to mail them out.

POA has helped us purchase laptops for students when we needed more in 2018. They bought tables at our events. They included us in their 2016 company golf tournament.  We entered a team and had so much fun!  They are partners who have remained active with us as we faced new challenges and growth. THANK YOU, Doug, and Pacific Office Automation, for your leadership, loyalty, and most of all for believing in our people and mission to provide the best education for our students! We couldn’t have done it without you.

Harvard Business School Association of Oregon’s Community Partners Program (2019)

Serendipity approached the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon’s Community Partners Program with a request for consulting around a focused area of our work. Not only were we selected for pro bono consulting, but we also were provided this diverse team of experts who quickly came to know Serendipity as well and possibly better than we know ourselves. We received an infusion of new perspective and new context, allowing us to see our work and the desired outcomes of our work differently. As a result, we talk differently about the impact of our mission and can connect it directly with the needs of our community. Thanks to their comprehensive work and generous investment of their time and talent, we grew in our clarity of purpose and we know our next steps.

Mike Smith (2019)

Mike Smith has been not only a broker, but also a friend to Serendipity for literally years and years. He anticipates our needs and fiercely advocates on our behalf. He is a donor, as well as giving freely of this time and expertise. Mike has provided Serendipity the sense of being taken care of by someone whose integrity is beyond question. He has guided us through changes and said yes to every request we’ve presented. He is very quiet about his generosity and has never once lost sight of the importance of the purpose for which Serendipity exists. We honor Michael Smith of Durham and Bates Insurance with a 2019 Jeri Hamilton Extraordinary Service Award

Heather Austin (2018)

In 2011, Serendipity’s Capital Project Steering Committee received a significant gift. A land use planner, Heather Austin, became a member. Since that time, she has interpreted codes and regulations, researched all manner of requirements, facilitated meetings with the City, and in general, provided guidance that over and over again proves invaluable for the development of our campus. She understands our mission and the needs of our children, so her guidance is always grounded in the values of what best serves student needs. She brings endless enthusiasm and patience, even when projects exceed expected timelines or migrate a little sideways. Her solutions are creative and presence on our committee adds competence and fun. We are thrilled to name Heather Austin as a 2018 recipient of the Jeri Hamilton Extraordinary Service Award.

Point B (2018)

Point B began contributing to Serendipity’s mission in 2012. Since that time, more and more impactful projects have come to fruition through the skill and generosity of this team of consultants who believe in our mission, our children, and our future. With their help, we’ve customized a data base, re-conceptualized our marketing, completed the most focused and inclusive strategic planning process in our history, and we’re preparing to tackle outcome measures together. Beyond all that, this team also labored in the Growing Minds Garden for an entire day. They host our committee meetings and continually support us the kindness and wisdom. With gratitude for our evolving partnership, we honor Point B as a 2018 recipient of the Jeri Hamilton Extraordinary Service Award.

The Standard (2017)

The Standard states it holds a corporate intention of helping people overcome hardship and empowering success. Through the provision of extraordinary board members, annual sponsorships, and foundation gifts, The Standard fulfills this pledge to the community through supporting Serendipity’s mission and improving the lives and futures of our students. The 2017 Pearls of Hope represents the seventh consecutive year in which The Standard has been Serendipity’s Presenting Event Sponsor, and the fourteenth consecutive year of sponsoring our annual event. We honor this investment in our children and the support of Bob Speltz, Director of Public Affairs and Executive Director of the Standard Charitable Foundation.

Jeff Austin (2016)

For over 20 years Jeff Austin has dedicated himself to the mission of Serendipity Center. He has been a valued leader and visionary since he first began serving as our education attorney while he was a partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, LLP. In 2015-2016 Jeff chaired Serendipity’s board of directors, one of his many positions of influence he has held during the course of his tenure. He will be stepping down as chair at the end of the 2016 school year. Jeff leaves behind a legacy of unmatched generosity and service to Serendipity.

Golnaz Armin (2016)

Golnaz Armin is an outstanding example of an individual who has made the advancement of Serendipity’s mission a personal priority. As a Nike material design lead Golnaz has continuously raised awareness for Serendipity among her colleagues and friends. She has also supported our students for years by providing apparel to those in need and through her generous contributions to Serendipity Center.

Capitol One Employees (2015)

For many years the employees of Capital One have assumed the responsibility of providing backpacks fully loaded with school supplies and every requested holiday gift. Representatives of this group secured corporate donations through winning volunteer essays and have labored for over 450 hours to build beds and pathways in the Growing Minds Garden. These men and woman have accepted Serendipity’s children and the organization’s mission; they are without doubt extraordinary volunteers.

Tom Trussell, MediaWorks (2015)

MediaWorks Visual Communication has created all internal and external branding for Serendipity for the past 15 years. Tom Trussell, owner and creative director of MediaWorks has opened his heart to this school and has made available to us a level of professionalism and graphic design unattainable without his generosity. He has helped us build credibility with our stakeholders and more importantly, helped us define our values and our identity to ourselves.

Chet Gregory, posthumously awarded (2015)

Serendipity’s founding board of directors was made up largely of parents who had experienced transformation in the lives of their children at Serendipity Center and were committed to extending this help to other families. One such board member, Chet Gregory, believed so much in the transformative power of Serendipity that he mortgaged his home to fund the initial year of expenses. Chet’s widow and long-term board member Kathey Gregory accepted this award posthumously in a long overdue public thank you.

Walsh Construction Co. (2014)
In 2006, we asked for a meeting with a representative of Walsh Construction, having heard from other nonprofits that Walsh Construction was a valuable partner. We had no plans and no committed funds, but announced we were going to renovate our campus. At not one point, from then and through today, did Walsh Construction ever deliver anything other than partnership. In addition to being skilled planners and builders, they have taught us about the care and the future possibilities for our space. They have rolled with numerous change orders, only deflecting a few, and somehow find a way for our budget to balance at the end of day. They respond to every request, are the first phone call when there’s a problem to solve, and have become valued and extraordinary friends.

Amy Blake (2014)
In addition to filling the role of our property/casualty insurance broker at Brown & Brown for most of the last 12 years, Amy is also a powerful ambassador for the children and mission of Serendipity. Amy chairs the holiday giving efforts each year, within and beyond her company. She personally ensures that our students receive gifts and that our families in need are provided food and utility assistance over the Winter Break. She tells Serendipity’s story whenever possible and has advocated for Serendipity as the recipient of support from other organizations within the insurance field. She is an annual donor, giving financial support as well as food and gifts. We have been grateful for her friendship for as long as we’ve known her and have come to depend on her extraordinary acts of charity and compassion.

Rick Levine (2014)
In 1999, Serendipity made the decision to invite support from our community. We met several consultants, but ultimately found our comfort and rhythm with one. Rick Levine took Serendipity under his wing and began writing grants to fund projects, capacity enhancement, and growth. He both understood and believed in our mission from the beginning. Rick introduced us to foundation trustees and directors, using the considerable respect he’d garnered in the philanthropic community to create a seat at the table for Serendipity. His endorsement opened door after door. Upon his retirement, Rick continued to lead Serendipity’s efforts a volunteer. His grant writing has resulted in almost $3,000,000 invested in the potential of our young people. We continue to depend on his strategic thinking and his wisdom, and acknowledge the profound and permanent impact he’s had on Serendipity.

Harper Houf Peterson Righellis, Inc. (2013)
Harper Houf Peterson Righellis is a firm of civil and structural engineers. One of their engineers, Kim Shera, joined Serendipity’s Capital Projects Steering Committee, and with the input of other HHPR engineers, has skillfully assisted us with land surveys, campus planning, and issues related to storm water management. Kim and her associates at Harper Houf completed the construction documents for the Covered Play Area constructed in 2013. HHPR offers conference space for the monthly meetings of Serendipity’s Capital Committee. Almost $31,000 of pro bono services were delivered by Harper Houf just in the year this award was presented, and we find this level of generosity extraordinary.

Paul Fields (2013)
Paul Fields is a partner with Social Venture Partners Portland, and a business consultant with Point B. His involvement with Serendipity began with our Outcomes Project, and has grown to include his participation and guidance as we undertake both technical and cultural change. Paul helped to plan and execute the implementation of a performance management system, met with staff teams to optimize our communication and operational processes, edited our new website, met with funders, and even introduced us to our videographer and assisted in video production. He is available, dependable, and invaluable source of insight for us. Paul joined Serendipity’s board of directors in June 2013.

Tony Martinez (2013)
This special mid-life time achievement award was presented to Tony Martinez with the profound gratitude of the Serendipity Center for many years of generosity, and advocacy. The 2013 Pearls of Hope marks the ninth year that Tony has served as the Master of Ceremonies for Serendipity’s annual event. Given Tony’s own background in social work, he brings a unique understanding of Serendipity’s mission and young people. He has featured the outcomes and stories of Serendipity students in his “For Kids’ Sake” segments, all of which reveal Tony’s thoughtful exploration of issues and his dedication to shining a light on the need for our community to embrace all is children. Serendipity could not ask for a more insightful or enthusiastic spokesperson or friend.

Miller Nash (2012)
Miller Nash has been Serendipity’s law firm since 1991, providing legal services in education, employment, contracts, and all other areas. Since 2004, these services have all been provided on a pro bono basis, and it is important to Serendipity that Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, LLP be recognized for the phenomenal gift of their support for so many years. Our attorneys are highly responsive advisors who take the time to understand the needs of our children, the design of our program, and the challenges we encounter. Their suggestions are always wise, ethical, compassionate, realistic, and designed to advance what best serves children. Miller Nash Graham & Dunn, LLP has provided conference room space for Serendipity’s monthly board meetings since the fall of 2006. The firm has sponsored our events, guided our partnerships, strengthened our contracts, and shaped the evolution of our practices as the needs of our children changed. We cannot imagine a partnership more comprehensive or dependable than the one we enjoy with Miller Nash.

Wendy Ricketts (2012)
Wendy is another extraordinary volunteer whose involvement with Serendipity grew in reach and impact. Originally, she committed a full year of parent volunteer effort to Serendipity’s library, processing and cataloging books. She moved into our event team, helping to plan all aspects of Serendipity’s annual gala. This year, she is the Chair of Pearls of Hope and the leader of the event committee. It is very special for the board and staff of Serendipity to have a parent in the role of Event Chair. Her knowledge of our program and dedication to sharing its impact with others has widened Serendipity’s circle of friends. Serendipity was fortunate to have Wendy join our board of directors in September 2013.

Central East Portland Rotary (2011)
The Central East Portland Rotary has adopted our school and our children in a myriad of ways for many years. For example, their Rotarians have improved our campus, lifted staff morale, supported our families during the holidays, and increased community awareness of and involvement in our program. Central East Portland Rotary chose Serendipity for their Rotary International 100 year anniversary project, devoting tremendous time and resources to completely painting the exterior of our Building. We count among their members an amazing board member and numerous donors. We honor the Central East Portland Rotary as irreplaceable partners in the fulfillment of Serendipity’s mission.

Lori Gregory & Shannon Hendrickson, Mountain Peaks Therapy Llamas (2011)
Lori and Shannon have been bringing their certified therapy llamas to Serendipity since 2008. Consistently with our model of RE-Education, their therapy llamas are all about relationships and joy. Lori and Shannon greet our children with warmth and acceptance, creating a safe environment for students to ask questions, forge connections, and experience the comfort of interacting with big, gentle, responsive animals. Lori and Shannon are adept are creating various and appropriate ways for children of different ages and facing different obstacles to benefit from the llamas. We feed them, brush them, walk them, hug them, create art for them, write stories for them, read to them, and anticipate their visits with great excitement.

Steve Carter (2010)
Steve became acquainted with Serendipity Center in 2003, when he toured our program as a step towards matching an executive within The Standard with an opening on our board. By the conclusion of his tour, he had personally committed to the mission of our agency and became an active and transformative board member. Since 2007, Steve has been the Chair of Serendipity’s board, displaying leadership characterized by responsiveness, carefully reasoned decisions, and courageous action. Under this leadership, our board has expanded to include greater representation by the business committee and has been re-organized into effective committees charged with actively pursuing strategic initiatives. The true gift of Steve, however, is that 100% of the time, his position is grounded in his passion for the welfare of our children and his inexhaustible hope for their futures.

Hannah Graziano (2009)
Hannah was a uniquely qualified first recipient of the Jeri Hamilton Extraordinary Service Award, due to her long history with Serendipity. Hannah was a founding staff member of our agency, assisting in its incorporation in 1979 and the launching of the therapeutic school. She was Serendipity’s first counselor and part of the team that was practicing RE-Education long before its formal adoption as our philosophical model. Hannah left the employment of Serendipity in the mid-80’s, but re-engaged in 2000, first as an advisor in the board’s strategic planning processes and then as a member of the first fundraising and event committee. Hannah has worked tirelessly as a volunteer project manager for Serendipity’s first capital campaign and renovation, in addition to filling a major donor role. She understands our mission at depth and continues to be a powerful ambassador for our story.

Jeri Hamilton (2008)
Jeri Hamilton joined Serendipity’s Board of Directors in 2000, and remained an active volunteer until relocating to Palm Springs. Then Director of Special Events for the Portland Art Museum, Jeri’s gift to Serendipity was the launching of our annual event. The conceptual foundation for Pearls of Hope was Jeri’s, and under her leadership, we learned the power in gathering our community for celebration and support. Her gift was helping us grow our capacity to invite and utilize volunteers in ways that transformed our program. Jeri was honored with the first award given in her name in 2008. It has become tradition to conclude Pearls of Hope by honoring new extraordinary volunteers with an award presented in Jeri’s name.