Bay Area Jefferson Award Winners Receive National Honors

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Jefferson Award winners Michelle Lacourciere of "Sirona Cares" (left), and Jessica Cherny of Burlingame High School's Students in Action Club. (CBS)

Jefferson Award winners Michelle Lacourciere of “Sirona Cares” (left), and Jessica Cherny of Burlingame High School’s Students in Action Club. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Several Bay Area Jefferson Award winners have become winners on the national stage.

A Pacifica woman honored with a Bay Area Jefferson Award last year has picked up a national honor from the organization at their annual event in Washington, DC. Michelle Lacourciere won the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for founding “Sirona Cares,” a non-profit dedicated to improving lives by providing affordable, clean energy to Haiti. She still serves as director.

Last fall, Lacourciere told KPIX that after a 2009 visit to Haiti she thought, “There was something inside of me that said you have to do something — do something!”

And do something she did, starting a small a sustainable biofuel program to help Haitian farmers. But after Haiti’s devastating earthquake in 2010, Lacourciere resolved to do even more, launching a project to distribute solar generators to charge portable battery packs.

The batteries can then charge cell phones and light homes for about the same price they pay for kerosene. It’s the key, Lacourciere says, to climbing out of poverty. So far they’ve lit thousands of homes and are expanding to include more countries.

Burlingame High School’s Students in Action Club, a Jefferson service group for teenagers, was also honored in Washington. The Club was honored as a regional role model for raising $55,000 this school year, donating almost all of it to nonprofits such as Soles Without Holes and Bread Tags.

Jefferson Award winners Katrine Kirsebom and Corinne Hindes. (CBS)

Jefferson Award winners Katrine Kirsebom and Corinne Hindes. (CBS)

And two East Bay teenagers were invited to the festivities as well. Katrine Kirsebom and Corinne Hindes founded K&C Cares to redistribute abandon clothes and ski gear to the homeless. They have renamed their organization Warm Winters, and shared with other Jefferson Award participants how they’re growing the project to include more young volunteers and reach more people in need.

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