2020 Compassion Awards

WHEN:  THURSDAY, JANUARY 16, 2020 from 6:30 – 9:30 pm


The Giving Circle Compassion Award recognizes that even the simplest act of kindness can have the greatest impact on the quality of life for the underserved and downtrodden.   This award encourages selfless acts and promotes altruism and compassion in future generations.

Ticket and Sponsor Levels:

Or… Join the Compassion Awards Honorary Committee



Sponsor Level Description Price
Regular One (1) ticket $   100.00
Silver Two (2) tickets and logo on revolving screen grouped in with other sponsorship logos $   600.00
Gold Four (4) event tickets – half of a reserved table and logo alone on reserved screen $ 1,200.00
Platinum Eight (8) event tickets and full reserved table, logo alone on reserved table $ 2,500.00
** The Giving Circle is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  All donations are tax deductible.

Honorary Chairs: Ed & Lisa Mitzen

Ed and Lisa Mitzen, were both born and raised in Upstate NY. Ed is the owner and founder of Fingerpaint, in Saratoga Springs, NY, while Lisa, now retired from the Mortgage Industry is a part-time personal fitness trainer. Ed and Lisa met a little more than a decade ago and they quickly discovered their shared passion for helping those in need.  Together they are involved with several different organizations including Rebuilding Together Saratoga County, Double H Ranch, Red Cross of Northeastern NY, Walk to End Alzheimer’s Northeastern NY Chapter, Shelters of Saratoga, Franklin Community Center and The Giving Circle.

Ed, father of Emily, Nick and Grace resides with Lisa in Saratoga Springs, NY on a small hobby farm. Emily and Nick both live in NYC and Grace is attending college in California. Ed and Lisa are very proud of all of three of them and enjoy spending time with them whenever they can.  Although they like to travel, they truly enjoy time spent on their farm with their dogs, cats, goats and chickens.

Ed and Lisa love living in Saratoga Springs, NY and feel incredibly blessed. Giving back to the community and helping those less fortunate is very important to them and they are so thankful that they are able to do so.

Local Individual Resident who displays the embodiment of compassion: Bo Goliber

Local Individual Resident: Bo Goliber

Caring, passionate, and authentic.

If you know Bo Goliber, you know these three words only begin to describe the type of person Bo is in all aspects of her life. Whether she is organizing a professional philanthropic event that spans from coast-to-coast or supporting her daughter’s extracurricular activities, Bo gives puts every ounce of her soul into it.

For the past 7 years, Bo has served as the head of philanthropy at Fingerpaint. In this unique role, she has led the way in defining what corporate philanthropy and community engagement should look like. And, not just in the capital region. She has been tapped by dozens of local, national and international outlets to share her expertise on the topic.

The Giving Circle started working with Bo 6 years ago in 2014, witnessing first-hand the enthusiastic way she jumps right into a project, offering to help in way she can. The thing is, when Bo offers to help, she does so much more than that. She becomes an advocate for you, your organization and your project. Ask any of the organizations she has personally helped, such as the Special Olympics New York, Northeast Kidney Foundation, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Beyond My Battle – just to name a few – and you will hear a similar sentiment.

One of the major projects Bo spearheaded was facilitating a relationship between Fingerpaint and the Giving Circle to build a school in Uganda that educates hundreds of students annually. The passion she demonstrated for all parties involved shows the impact she makes reaches beyond local, state or national boarders and is a testament to her desire to truly help make the world a better place for all human-kind.

Bo’s boundless enthusiasm and genuine desire to make a difference in the lives of others, makes her a natural recipient for this year’s Embodiment of Compassion Award.

Local Non-Profit who displays the embodiment of compassion: SNACpack

Local Non-Profit: SNACpack

The SNACpack program began 5 years ago on the kitchen table of Karey and John Trimmings. This “mom and pop” charity was inspired by their “son”, Richard, whom they brought into their family in July 2013 after his mother was no longer able to care for him. Rich opened up to his new family about the years of neglect and hunger he experienced all the while attending different schools in Saratoga Springs, where no one realized the level of his neglect.

A true grassroots organization, SNACpack has evolved into a weekly backpack program that is currently feeding 212 children, grades K-6 in all 6 elementary, middle and high schools of the Saratoga Springs School district.

Founders Award whose lifetime of actions displays the embodiment of compassion:  Almeda C. Riley

Almeda C. Riley was born in Wellsville, New York, and attended Wellsville Public Schools, graduated from Penn Hall preparatory school, and received an AB from Cornell University.  She lives in Saratoga Springs with her husband, John L. Riley BArch’55.  She is the mother of four adult children, three of them Cornellians, and eight grandchildren and one great granddaughter.

A.C. first ran for office in 1975, when she was elected to a five year term on the Saratoga Springs Library Board.  Since then, she was elected and served as Supervisor from Saratoga Springs from 1980 through 1988, and Mayor of Saratoga Springs from 1990 through 1995.  She chaired the Board of Supervisors in 1985.

She is a life member of the Cornell University Council and an Emeritus member of the Advisory Council to the College of Arts and Sciences at Cornell University.  She is Secretary of the Woodlawn Commons Residents Association.  She is a member of theLeague of Women Voters and the Planned Giving Committee of The Saratoga Hospital Foundation.

Past activities include member and chair of the board of the Saratoga County Economic Opportunity Council, membership in the Board of Trustees of Saratoga Hospital, board membership of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where she also chaired the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Chairmanship of the Board of Trustees of Troy Conference of the United Methodist Church, Board membership on the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, Trustee and Board Chair of The Sage Colleges, and Board membership of United Way of Saratoga County and United Way of Northeastern New York.  She was the first chair of the Citizens Committee for Mental Health.

TGC US-based team member whose actions internationally displays the embodiment of compassion: Jim Wilhite

TGC US-based team member: Jim Wilhite

My name is Jim Wilhite, my Uganda story began while working for the Army Corps of Engineers.  I was fortunate to work disaster duty primarily Hurricanes.  Hurricane Katrina making land fall on August 29, 2005 is the storm that lead me to The Giving Circle.  I found The Giving Circle on the internet and talked to Mark Bertrand.  One of the most generous men with a great vision to help those in need I have ever known and his family Kelly and Azurah their son are right there with him.  That conversation changed my life.  The Giving Circle was going to Waveland, Mississippi to rebuild a house.  That was 2007.    I told Mark I just spent the 9 months there in Waveland removing debris and I would like to volunteer and go with The Giving Circle to rebuild.  It happened.

I spent the next seven years following hurricanes.  I always stayed in touch with Mark.

I found my propose thru The Giving Circle and Water With Blessings.  I have a wonderful partner Father Ruffino. There are many more people state side and in Uganda that have been there for me to get each pilgrimage accomplished.

June 28, 2014 I traveled for the first time with The Giving Circle to Uganda for two weeks.  I was not sure what to expect I decided to just participate. This is all it took, I fell in love with Uganda and all her people.

I returned June 25, 2015 with The Giving Circle to the Pearl of Africa, Uganda.  On this trip I ask one of the village leaders, Patrick to take me threw the village.  What I found were many small graves.  I ask Patrick are these graves of small children.  He told me yes they are.  He went on to tell me many of the children in this village die before they are five years old because of the diarrhea and dysentery.  I was not sure what I could do but, something had to be done.  With a help I found in Kentucky the Water With Blessings org. A charity organization to get clean safe water wherever it is needed around the world.   I train a team of women in the area how to train ladies to become Water Women. These Water Women were trained to use and care for the water filter kit and share with her family and 3 neighbors.

March 17, 2016 Mark and I returned to Uganda with 75 donated water filter kits, that would provide 1,500 men, women and children clean safe water for Kagoma Gate village.  With the help of Moses and Emma,  we trained Patrick, Scovia, and Aisha to be the Water Filter Kit training team for Kagoma Gate Village.  This was a remarkable four months.

March 17, 2017 I traveled with Water With Blessings to Honduras for Well Child Testing Training for 8 days.

January 10, 2018 I was asked by the Comboni Ministries to travel to Moyo, Uganda a small town in the north ofUganda, to bring 510 water filter kits for the South Sudan Refugees in the Palorinya Settlement.  I enjoyed the four months spending time with the mothers and children in the settlements villages and the Sisters of the Convent in Moyo.

June 27, 2018 I returned to Uganda with The Giving Circle with a additional 55 water filter kits, that would provide another 1,100 men, women and children with clean safe water in Kagoma Gate village.

September 19, 2018 Returning for 2 months with 240 water filter kits for the South Sudan Refugees in the Palorinya Settlement.

The team and I traveled to Lodonga a small town 70 miles to the west of Moyo to interview mothers and grandmothers as to the need for Water Filter Kits in 6 villages.  It became clear there was a dire need for the water filters here.

May 9, 2019 I returned to Moyo, Uganda for 3 months for more water filter kit training in the South Sudan Refugee Villages.  We were able to bring 376 Water Filter Kits.

Father Ruffino and Katie Carroll with the Comboni Ministry brought an additional 180 water filters kits to begin providing the six villages we interviewed last fall in Lodonga.

This was a very active 3 months, getting a total of 556 water filter kits into the hands of mothers in Palorinya South Sudan Settlements and Lodonga.

We now have Water Filters Kits in,

Kagoma Gate Village 130 providing 2600 men, women and children clean safe water

South Sudan Refugee Settlement 1,126 providing 22,520 men, women and children clean safe water

Lodonga 180 providing 3,600 men, women and children with clean safe water.

Total Water Filter Kits 1,436 providing 28,720 with clean safe water.

Serge Shishik Memorial Award whose actions locally displays the embodiment of compassion: Mike Gyarmathy

TGC Uganda-based  team member whose actions display the embodiment of compassion: Lydia Kadama

TGC Uganda-based team member: Lydia Kadama



Lydia Kadama  is Our Ugandan award winner for 2020. Lydia is a member of our Ugandan based leadership team responsible for accounting.  She is also the director of our mirco-savings & loan.