2022 SOSA Winners and Honorable Mentions

AF – Justin Wimpey

Recognizing that 97% of Madagascar’s population uses charcoal for cooking, EFM Justin Wimpey sought a better solution which would not only be technologically feasible but highly affordable, produced locally, and culturally accepted. Starting from the traditional Malagasy pot design, he created a pressure cooker which he offered without compensation to a local metalworker and foundry. He also improved the manufacturing process and helped establish a women-led business to market and distribute the pots across Madagascar. The “Cocotte Minute Gasy” is rapidly gaining in popularity as it reduces charcoal use and therefore deforestation, and saves mainly women from spending many hours every day exposed to the health-damaging fumes of charcoal fires.


EAP – Denis Rajic, Michele Rajic Tang, Vicki Daniel, and Ellin R. Lobb

In March 2022, Shanghai imposed one of the harshest lockdowns in the world in response to the PRC’s largest COVID-19 outbreak, leaving the population without access to food and other necessities. Through indefatigable networking efforts, the volunteer team of Denis Rajic, Michele Rajic Tang, Vicki Daniel, and Ellin R. Lobb organized wholesale food deliveries for U.S. direct-hire staff and families and local employees of Consulate General Shanghai, some of whom had not had deliveries in weeks. The team is now assisting other Missions in establishing their own supply chain systems.


EUR – Meredith Wiedemer

In Moldova, as more than 460,000 Ukrainian refugees have streamed across the border, EFM Meredith Wiedemer was part of the leadership team at a Donation Center that provided emergency supplies like food, hygiene and baby items to over 38,000 refugees. One month into the conflict, she realized the need for long-term support for refugees and opened Sunflower Center, which is currently providing children’s programming, psychosocial support for mothers, and employment to Ukrainian women. She has raised over $200,000 in private contributions and secured partnerships with international organizations in support of Sunflower.


NEA – Debra Stock EFM 

Debra Stock arrived at her first overseas post, Doha, around the same time as a flood of 58,000 Afghan refugees. Debra immediately took the lead in organizing volunteers to help, spending her days and nights for months at the Al Udeid Air Base. Her “Doha Do-Gooders,” as they became known, worked on the receiving lines for incoming refugees and provided warm clothing, hygiene items and other essentials, as well as children’s supplies including over 300 soccer balls. They organized fundraising events for the refugees which brought the Embassy community together, and they even created and furnished a school for the refugee children, where Debra also served as a teacher and mentor.


WHA- J. Carlos Valles 

In Port-au-Prince, EFM J. Carlos Valles has volunteered over 1,000 hours at the St. Luke’s Foundation Carpenter Training Center of St. Luke’s Foundation, working with at-risk young men who learn under his tutelage to use machinery and tools and work as a team. Their workshop produces desks, chairs and beds as well as affordable coffins which allow Haiti’s urban poor to provide their loved ones with a dignified traditional burial. Carlos also works with the Embassy community to collect and repurpose packing and shipping materials for use in coffin-making. Carlos’ legacy will include a network of trained carpenters who can earn a decent living and fill a critical need for these skills in the Haitian capital.


Honorable Mentions: 

In Conakry, Guinea, EFM Sonia Carolina Torres López created a sustainable feeding program, using locally produced ingredients and local personnel, for over 80 children who otherwise would have access to only one meal a day.

In Beijing, EFM Ling L.C. Conley provided vital daily visits and supplies to an incoming Embassy family as they endured nine weeks of isolation in a COVID hospital, with the mother separated from the husband, son and daughter.

In Tbilisi, EFM Ondrej Hindl connected the EFM and Department of Defense communities at post and brought people together for volunteer activities including classes for Embassy children, blood drives, fundraising art auctions, events for over 1000 refugee kids, and the creation of a donation center for Ukrainian refugees in Georgia.

EFM John Wesley Kane volunteers daily at a hospital in conflict-wracked East Jerusalem, connecting the Embassy with the community and providing help ranging from direct caregiving in support of Gender advancement to writing a grant for the purchase of Hospital equipment.  

Since the age of 13 when he was posted to Bogota with his family, Wiley Skaret, now 20, has held benefit concerts and operated his own nonprofit foundation, James 1, to provide scholarships for the children of fallen Colombian police officers.