Community Activist and Habitat for Humanity National Service Specialist Timothy Lee Solano was recognized last Thursday as a “Champion of Change” by the Obama Administration. The nomination was posed by Robert Velasco II, President of the Corporation for National and Community Service. Solano traveled to the White House on Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011 to accept the nomination and participate in a round table discussion with a diverse group of Champions representing a range of organizations and initiatives.
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different issue is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community activists, are recognized for the work they are doing to better their communities. Solano was selected because of his personal and compelling story of overcoming child abuse, drug addiction and homelessness to become a respected community leader and Habitat for Humanity International staff member.
As a National Service Specialist for Habitat for Humanity International, Timothy Solano oversees AmeriCorps National and VISTA members as they coordinate home construction; develop financial and physical resources; engage veterans, volunteers and community partners; and support homeowners in a variety of ways at local affiliates across the nation.
“To be recognized as a Champion of Change is, for me, an unexpected honor,” Solano said. “It is my joy – every single day – to support Habitat’s AmeriCorps and VISTA members as they seek to help the communities they serve. Along the way, I hope I can also help them avoid some of the pitfalls that very easily could have consumed my own life.”
In 2004, while attending University of North Texas (UNT), Solano became the first single white male to become a North Collin County Habitat for Humanity homeowner. Embarking on a college career at the age of 36, Solano reared his three children in their Habitat home after earning an Associate Degree from Collin College in 2000. Solano went on to receive a Bachelor Degree from UNT in 2004 and a Master Degree in News-Editorial Journalism from UNT’s esteemed Mayborn Institute in 2007.
In 2004, the Collin College Board of Directors endowed a Community Service scholarship in Solano’s honor. In a Dallas Morning News article, Collin College President Cary Israel referred to Solano as a true “Renaissance Man,” pointing to Solano’s wide range of talents, abilities and concern for others. An adult survivor of child abuse and former substance abuser, the single father overcame often impossible odds – first, to earn the trust of community leaders –then to become one.
“Education was, for me, the key to unlocking the harsh reality of what happened to me as a child – and the selfish things I had done to harm myself as a result,” He said. “But service helped heal those wounds. There is nothing that affects communities like volunteerism. I can think of nothing I would rather do than spend the rest of my life engaging others in service to others.”
Please click here to see the White House’s page devoted to all 10 Champions for Change.
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