2014 Community Spirit Award winner champions many causes

October 17, 2014  


Community Spirit Award

Luis Lewin, vice president for human resources, presents Molly Cripe Birt, a large animal surgery technologist in Purdue's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, with the 2014 Community Spirit Award on Tuesday during the annual joint meeting of APSAC and CSSAC. (Purdue University photo/Matt Thomas)
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Molly Cripe Birt, a large animal surgery technologist in Purdue's Veterinary Teaching Hospital, received the 2014 Community Spirit Award on Tuesday during the annual joint meeting of APSAC and CSSAC.

Cripe Birt received the award because she works as a volunteer for a host of local nonprofit organizations, members of the committee said. A joint creation of the Administrative and Professional Staff Advisory Committee (APSAC) and the Clerical and Service Staff Advisory Committee (CSSAC), the award is given to those who set a high standard for service, who encourage a sustained commitment to civic participation and who inspire others to make service a central part of their lives. It was established in 2011.

Much of Cripe Birt's community service involves projects dealing with food insecurity in Tippecanoe County.

For instance, she is a leader of Veggie Drop, a nonprofit that collects surplus produce from local farmers' markets and delivers it to service agencies, including food pantries and shelters. The organization also organizes weekly "drops," in which volunteers deliver produce to local subsidized housing units. Last year, the nonprofit gathered and distributed 20,166 pounds of produce, according to a Journal and Courier article.

Cripe Birt dedicates much of her free time to coordinating the nonprofit's volunteers and activities, her nominators wrote. To further help those who receive food through Veggie Drop, Cripe Birt also has helped collect recipes for an upcoming cookbook tailored specifically for them. The cookbook is being edited and will be made available in the coming months.

Her other volunteer activities include participating the Subaru CASA Cycling Challenge, which raises funds for the Tippecanoe County Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program's efforts to enrich the lives of abused and neglected children; and tutoring through the area's after-school Heads Up program.

"Growing up, my sister and I learned from our family to be fair and kind to our neighbors," Cripe Birt said.

"We understood that simple acts of service could make a positive impact in our community. I believe that everyone should not just hope for but work toward the community's greater good. I hope that the work my friends and I have done not only inspires conversation but also elicits action in our city; seeing the results of that is the best reward."

This year, Sandra Oswalt, one of the award's nominees, received an honorable mention for her work for several local service organizations, the committees said. Oswalt also helps her family organize a softball tournament called Bub's Softball Benefit, in honor of her nephew, who died in 1987 from a rare form of cancer.

The tournament has been held for 22 consecutive years, and all proceeds are given to the Ronald McDonald House that her nephew's parents stayed in while he was receiving treatment in New York City.

Writer: Amanda Hamon Kunz, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu 

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