Ambassador of Hope


Linda Drake receives 2016 National Ambassador of Hope Award

Judy Pedersen, Director and Founder of Hearts of Hope, Inc., proudly announces Ms. Linda Drake, Director of the Center for Social Responsibility and Community at SUNY Oneonta as the recipient of the 2016 National Ambassador of Hope Award.  

Ms. Drake has spearheaded a SUNY student initiative that to date has created more than 5,000 Hearts of Hope gifts distributed to hospitals, cancer centers, communities hit by tragedies and the military nationwide. Through Ms. Drake's leadership, inspiration and motivation, students at SUNY have lifted the spirits of literally thousands of people across the country with these small but encouraging gifts and symbols of hope and love.

Each year, Hearts of Hope chooses one outstanding individual to receive our national Ambassador of Hope Award. This award pays tribute to someone who goes above and beyond to give of themselves, their time, and their talents to make our world a better place. They do this by spreading hope through their own efforts or through their community connections.

“I remember fondly when I first had lunch with Judy, the Director of Hearts of Hope, years ago,” recalls Linda. “I loved the idea of 'spreading hope' to those in need and I was confident that I could help spread the word among our students to help with Hearts of Hope. It is my pleasure to help our students get involved with this non-profit organization, one of our service projects for incoming freshmen at SUNY Oneonta. Several of our clubs have painted hearts and participated. This project is also used as a service project for our annual Conference on Volunteerism.  Our students at SUNY Oneonta are enjoying creating hearts and giving a little hope to those who need it. Students' finding their passions through volunteering are the type of success stories that we love to hear about.”

Each year there are many deserving candidates for this award making the final choice an extremely difficult one. This year was no different. However, Ms. Drake's passion, energy and selflessness reached a level that made her the clear choice among dozens of compassionate and caring individuals. She has provided a shining example of the Hearts of Hope spirit of “paying it forward.”

Honoring our 2016 Ambassador of Hope, Linda Drake. Left to right: Shayna Peckham Hearts of Hope Director of Brand Development, Linda Drake SUNY Oneonta CSRC Director, Dr. Nancy Kleniewski SUNY Oneonta President, Judith Pedersen Hearts of Hope Executive Director