Breaking News
More () »

Jefferson Awards 2023 | Recap of Quad Cities finalist, nominees

Our nominees truly reflect our mission of Hard Work. Determination. Here's a look back at some of the best moments.

MOLINE, Ill. — All over the Quad Cities area, there are people who aren't just doing good, but "multiplying good."

Every year, we honor them with the Jefferson Awards, a nationwide foundation that celebrates amazing acts of public service. This year is WQAD's 9th season of being a Jefferson Awards Media Partner, sponsored by the Good Feet Store, Genesis Health System and Tyson Foods.

This year, we have compiled seven nominees for the award. Below you'll find short descriptions of each nominee as well as videos of who they are and what they do. 

Pastor Tessa Cavey

Rev. Tessa Cavey is more than a faith leader. She has also taken up the call to feed those in need after no other food programs would touch Wheatland, Iowa. 

Now she feeds hundreds of people every week in several communities. At the same time, Cavey goes into the schools each week, involving the youth (or the future, as she calls them) in cooking for those in need.

Every Monday morning, Cavey and her group of volunteers make the trek from Wheatland to Davenport to pick up food at the River Bend Food Bank for the Saint Paul's UCC food bank. 

"It initially started with kids in the summer, they didn't have a place to go and eat lunch," Cavey said. 

The program has now transformed into feeding the community.

Watch the full story below: 

Abigail Johnson

Abigail Johnson is just 15 years old. The teen isn't old enough to drive, but that isn't getting in her way of being a productive person. Johnson will graduate high school with an associate degree, participates in more than a dozen activities at school, and runs an organization called Veterans Tech Support.

Johnson started Veterans Tech Support because of her grandfather, Mike Lake. 

"He is a self-proclaimed tech illiterate," Johnson said. 

Johnson worked to help him with technology, but then realized other veterans could benefit from these valuable lessons. Johnson brought the idea to the American Legion Post in Bluegrass, Iowa. 

"The fact that I had the possibility to help them here would be the perfect place to start," Johnson said.

Now, Johnson teaches monthly classes to veterans covering a multitude of subjects. From taking a photo on your phone to cyber security, Johnson teaches it all.

Watch the full story below: 

"Kevin Bus 7" Walsh

Every school morning, Cambridge native Kevin Walsh climbs up in his bus — Number 7 — and rolls out, in all sorts of weather. 

"I showed up yesterday at 2:30 in the morning and started plowing the parking lots and everything out. Just so everyone had a fairly safe way to get into the school," said Walsh. 

"Kevin Bus 7," as he's known for more than 20 years, greets each and every one of his students, and as head bus driver, he knows all the routes — and all the families.

"I just love the kids. I like interacting with them. I have fun with them. I enjoy them. I like helping them. I’ve done a lot of kids’ homework on the way home some days – help them w/their homework, I didn’t do it," Walsh said with a laugh.

Walsh is a grandfather of five, and in true Jefferson Awards fashion, he is "Multiplying Good" in the generations of community members he's driven.

Watch the full story below: 

Brittany Berrie

An Iowa mom who was able to adopt her daughter thanks to the generosity of a family member, has now opened a clothing store where 100% of the proceeds go to help families pay for the costs of adoption. 

Brittany Berrie, a mom of three in DeWitt, opened The Adopted Closet in 2021 after she adopted her 11-year-old daughter, Gracie.

Gracie was born to one of Berrie's relatives, and Berrie has taken care of her since she was only a few days old.

Berrie said she and her long time partner, Branden Johnson, had talked frequently about adopting Gracie but did not think they could afford it. That changed when Berrie went to a family wedding where a cousin offered to cover the costs.

“She said 'When you get home, you need to hire an attorney because I'm paying for everything you need to adopt her,'” Berrie said.

Berrie said throughout the adoption process, she struggled with how to appropriately thank her cousin. 

“The feeling of what Casey gave to us was not signed checks. It was permanent. It took away so much anxiety. It was a lot of weight lifted. A lot of relief because I know she would never be taken out of our hands,” Berrie said.

Watch the full story below: 

Luekinna Hodges

A Davenport woman is taking a stand against domestic violence after hitting rock bottom more than once at a young age. 

Luekinna Hodges, 53, is one of the WQAD 2023 Jefferson Awards nominees. 

Hodges is known for starting up her organization "Kinna's House of Love", also called 'Kinna's Corner.'

"I want the atmosphere to be as comfortable for the kids," Hodges said.

Her support includes offering help for women who are victims of domestic violence. She also hosts family-friendly events throughout the year.

"When we have the kids here, it's a joy to see them laugh," Hodges said. "And I talk to them about feelings and expression."

Silvia Salinas-Torres is a mother of three who has benefited from Hodges' work.

"She gave my kids Christmas gifts," Silvia said.

"She's a sweet, sweet, sweet lady," Silvia's oldest child added.

Hodges said she hopes to guide children down a better path than hers.

"There was so much stuff happening to me," Hodges said. "When I really reminisce on that stuff, I could've been dead."

Watch the full story below: 

Project 15:12 | Karly Driscoll and Monica Burchett

The mission to do something good is what brought Karly Driscoll and Monica Burchett together nearly a decade ago. The pair know what it's like to fall into hard times, and they realized the Quad Cities had a gap that needed filling.

"If I know what this is like, to go through a hardship, you know, I don't want someone else to have to go through that," Burchett told News 8's Jon Diaz. 

While the Quad Cities area has resources for those experiencing things like homelessness or food insecurity, it didn't have resources for someone who may not qualify for assistance like that.

"Let's say you have a crisis come up in your life do you don't have a bank account full of money to pay for being off work for six weeks," Driscoll said. That's what their group Project 15:12 is here for. 

"'Project 15:12' comes from the Gospel of John 15:12," Burchett explained. "'To love one another as I have loved you.'"

Watch the full story below: 

Anissa Quinn

A Quad City woman is taking the fight against crime into her own hands as one of her loved ones faces the toll of being a shooting victim.

Anissa Quinn, one of WQAD's 2023 Jefferson Awards nominees, is pushing for safer streets after her son was shot five times in 2017.

"Whole life just changed," Anissa said. "It's people killing people."

She now cares for her 31-year-old son Arthur Abbey as a full-time job because he is paralyzed from the neck down due to the incident.

"It's an every day, 24-hour, 365 days out of the year I have to sit here and take care of him," Anissa said.

Anissa has shown News 8 life now and she's now leading a call for change in the community.

"That was the most devastating news I've ever had," Anissa said. "That was the most hardest thing I've ever had to deal with."

She has hosted rallies and walks the past three years to raise awareness and plead to stop the violence.

Watch the full story below: 

► Download the WQAD News 8 App 
► Subscribe to our newsletter 
Subscribe to our YouTube channel 

Before You Leave, Check This Out