Via Foundation recognized individuals and companies which are donating their time and money to help others through the 21st Via Bona Philanthropy Awards, held on Monday, May 21, under the patronage of the US Embassy. This year, Via engaged the public through online voting. Whether on not you were among those who voted, you may be interested to read about the winners of the 2018 awards in five categories – Patron, Personal Engagement, Young Personal Engagement, Good Company and Bequeaths.
While last year’s 20th anniversary awards recognized the most powerful stories of giving from Via Bona’s 20-year history, the 2018 awards focused on modern, untraditional and innovative ways of helping others. “This year, we sought to support philanthropy in the world of IT, highlight new ways of giving and target young people, which have huge potential to make change,” explained Monika Skopalová, program manager at Via Foundation.
Via saw an increase in nominations in the Personal Engagement, Patron and Bequeath categories. Zdeněk Mihalco, program director at Via Foundation, added: “Twenty years ago philanthropy was almost unknown in the Czech Republic. Today, many people and companies consider giving a normal part of life. We’ve come a long way and the number of nominations we received this year – 140 – is proof of that.”
The nominations described inspiring stories of patrons, students, business people, companies, individuals and entire groups helping others in diverse ways. Some gave their money, time and experience, while others used the Internet and modern IT or their wills to support a cause. An independent jury assessed the 140 nominations and selected 15 of the most powerful examples of giving. The Public Choice category winners, which were selected through public online voting, received Via Bona statues created by Czech sculptor František Skála.
The Patron Award went to Libor Malý, a longstanding supporter of non-profit projects and organizations that are striving for positive societal change. He also supports free advisory services for people struggling to get out of debt. The Good Company Award was presented to Naturfyt-BIO for its dedication to community activities in the Jesenik region.
The Personal Engagement Award winner was Ludmila Böhmová, who works to improve educational opportunities for children and teachers in the Central African Republic.
The Young Personal Engagement Award winner was Petra Soukupová, who founded a youth orchestra at age 15 which supports charitable causes in the Broumov region. She also received the most votes from the public, earning her the Public’s Choice Award presented under the auspices of Czech Television.
In the Bequeath category, the public chose Marcela Mejstříková, a breast cancer survivor and co-founder of Mamma HELP. In 2014 she bequeathed her assets to this association, which helps women with breast cancer.
The Via Bona Philanthropy Awards are held each year under the auspices of the US Embassy in the Czech Republic. The main partner of the Via Bona Philanthropy Awards is Česká spořitelna bank, which received the Large Company Award in 2013. “The Via Bona award winners and their stories of giving are a powerful source of inspiration for each and every one of us. The more people which are inspired by the awards to help where help is needed, the better our lives will be. At Česká spořitelna, we believe in the prosperity of our country and we view an engaged citizenry as its foundation,” said Andrea Studihradová, member of the Via Bona Philanthropy Awards jury.
The Via Bona Philanthropy Awards media partners are Czech Television and Czech Radio. Other partners include Nadace Kooperativa, PwC Česká republika, Tchibo Praha and Veolia Česká republika.
2018 Via Bona Philanthropy Award Winners:
Jesenik native and owner of Naturfyt – BIO Rodan Hojgr has long supported the local community and locals’ revitalization efforts in diverse ways. He has helped fund improvements to a local forest nursery and renovation of the art deco Tančírna community cultural center and also volunteered to help plant a cherry tree allee. Through the civic association Sudetikus, he supports local events such as farmers’ markets, festivals and community town hall meetings. He also provides opportunities to young people just starting their careers – for example, he engaged a young local landscape architect fresh out of school to design the landscaping at his company’s new office.
Libor Malý is a longstanding supporter of non-profit projects and organizations that are striving for positive societal change. He has a history of generous annual gifts to various good causes. Additionally, after meeting a girl who had racked up debts to pay for cancer treatment that put her on the brink of property seizure, he joined the fight against excessive indebtness. His support has enabled People in Need foundation to provide free advisory services to people struggling with financial difficulties and to advocate for an amendment to the law on debtors enabling them to extricate themselves from debt spirals and re-integrate themselves into society, saving Czech households over CZK 10 billion each year. Moreover, through the social network Hearth.net he promotes a giving economy and works to inspire others to embrace generosity and kindness.
Marcela Mejstříková battled breast cancer years ago. She survived and in 1999, she co-founded a civic association called Mamma HELP, which helps women with breast cancer. She worked at Mamma HELP as a therapist, helped establish centers in other Czech cities and decided to continue her support of the organization through her will. In 2014, she decided to bequeath her entire estate to Mamma HELP to continue helping others even after she passes away.
Personal Engagement Award
In 2006 Ludmila, her husband Karol and four friends founded SIRIRI, a non-profit organization that helps people and towns in the Central African Republic (CAR) through interventions in education, health and agriculture. SIRIRI’s goals are to make education as accessible as possible to young people and to train teachers. SIRIRI has helped build a high school, a dorm for students and a day center for orphans in the city of Bozoum, developed a training program for teachers and created the first illustrated primer in the local language, Sango, to enable children to learn to read and write in their native tongue, thus improving their chances for a good education.
Young Personal Engagement Award
In 2010, then 15-year-old Petra and her brother Jakub persuaded several adults in their community to help them implement a grand idea – and that in return, young people would help others in the future. Thus the POLICE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA was founded. Today, the orchestra counts 65 members, including young and not-so-young musicians. It has held more than 60 large concerts in the Czech Republic and abroad and has become a career springboard for many of her peers. The orchestra’s benefit concerts support the Broumov Hospital Endowment Fund, which provides health equipment for elderly and chronically ill patients.