On Friday May 12th, Playworks presented Mitzi Ortega with the Rookie of the Year Award at its annual Get in the Game Gala in San Francisco.
Mitzi, a first-year Playworks AmeriCorps coach, was recognized for her exceptional commitment to service. For the past year, Coach Mitzi has served as a full-time recess coach at Montebello School in Phoenix, helping kids be more active, kind, and academically engaged through play. Each day of the school year, Coach Mitzi is out on the playground, organizing games, supporting the growth of fourth- and fifth-grade leaders, and leading after-school sports leagues.
The school where Coach Mitzi works has 1,400 students speaking 37 languages. Coach Mitzi created an International Family Night as a community engagement initiative to provide resources that could help refugee families in the community. There were translators, clothes, food, hygiene supplies, job application resources, potential job opportunities, and more, all while Playworks Junior Coach leaders led games for the kids. The event was so successful at bringing the community together that the school plans to continue hosting it for years in the future.
“We are honored to formally recognize Mitzi for her outstanding work at Montebello School,” said Playworks Arizona Executive Director Chuck Warshaver. “She has gone above and beyond to make sure every kid has a place on the playground and has fun.”
“I knew I was going to have an important job coming into Playworks, but it has exceeded my expectations,” said Coach Mitzi. “My experience as a coach has challenged me to be the best version of myself that I can possibly be, because the children, the teachers, the staff, and my whole school deserve it.”
During the gala, Playworks also honored all AmeriCorps Service Members with 2017 Most Inspiring Leader Award, for dedicating a year of service to strengthen communities across the nation. The annual award recognizes organizations and individuals that inspire others through respectful leadership, teamwork, empathy, and fairness. Past awardees include Kaiser Permanente, Salesforce, University of California San Francisco Medical Center, New Balance, Electronic Arts, Cartoon Network, and LiveOpps.