SANTA CRUZ COUNTY — The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County kicked off a call for nominations Monday for the 11th Annual Be the Difference Awards.

The “Be the Difference” Awards are about honoring the individuals, groups, nonprofits, and businesses who make a difference in Santa Cruz County through volunteerism.  

All community members are invited to share their stories of inspiration. Individuals who have worked alongside a dedicated volunteer, admire the way a particular nonprofit engages volunteers, or have observed a business going the extra mile for civic engagement are encouraged to fill out a nomination form.

Nominations will be accepted through Sept. 13.   

“Each of us can think of a volunteer that has touched our lives in some way, big or small. The Be the Difference Awards provide the annual opportunity for the larger community to say thank-you and to share the powerful stories of our local change-makers,” said Volunteer Center Executive Director Karen Delaney.  

More than 400 individuals, groups and businesses have been recognized since the inception of the event. 

“It is wonderful to see this number grow each year, to hear fresh new stories of individuals of all ages and from all walks of life who are dedicating themselves to the causes they care about. In a time of great divisions, the stories of volunteers help to provide a very different narrative about the potential for connection and the power of what we can accomplish when we act together as a constructive force for good,” Delaney said. 

The top 50 nominees will receive a complimentary ticket and recognition at the Be the Difference Awards Lunch Gala which annually brings together nearly 300 attendees in celebration of service. This year’s event will take place on Friday, Oct. 27 at the Cocoanut Grove from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

For information or to download a nomination form, visit or call 427-5070.

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