During the recent Bloom Holiday Party in the Tudor Room at the Indiana Memorial Union, Editor and Publisher Malcolm Abrams presented the 2021 Bloom Magazine Community Awards.
Bloom Magazine has four missions: to support local businesses, local charities, the arts, and diversity. The Bloom Community Awards were created to honor individuals who uphold these missions in Bloomington. The beautiful crystal awards have four pillars, each representing one of the Bloom missions.
The 2021 award winners are:
Sylvia McNair, Support of Local Charities
Grammy Award-winning opera singer and humanitarian Sylvia McNair is one of the great voices of her generation. A star at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, she has sung at the Vatican and for the Supreme Court.
McNair has performed benefit concerns for local organizations like the Shalom Community Center, Middle Way House, Susie’s Place, and Habitat for Humanity. She has also worked on behalf of the Area 10 Agency on Aging and New Hope for Families. Since 2016, she has served on the board of the Bloomington Refugee Support Network and has adopted a refugee family.
McNair also volunteers with VITAL at the Monroe County Public Library, where she teaches English as a new language to adults.
Adria Nassim, Support of Diversity
Adria Nassim is a columnist for The Herald-Times and a disability advocate. In her column, Nassim shares her experiences as a person with autism and cerebral palsy.. “Adria has opened a window for her thousands of readers,” says Abrams. “Rather than learning about autism from the outside trying to look in, Adria has taught us from the inside looking out.”
Nassim, a university graduate and sorority member, works at the Institute for Disability and Community, gives speeches on her experiences, and is writing a children’s book about disabilities.
Michael Cassady, Support of Local Businesses
Michael Cassady opened The Uptown Cafe 45 years ago and continues to set the bar for quality and service for other restaurants and businesses in general.
In 2017, Cassady was awarded the Outstanding Business Award for National Hispanic Heritage Month by the City of Bloomington Commission on Hispanic and Latino Affairs. He is also the former president of Cutters Soccer Club, a nonprofit organization that provides soccer access to children throughout the community.
Audrey Heller, Support of the Arts
Audrey Heller co-founded the Jewish Theatre of Bloomington (JTB) in 2005 and has served as producing artistic director for 16 years. JTB, the only Jewish theater in Indiana, presents plays that address universal themes about the human experience like love, respect, and forgiveness. The shows are designed to be relatable to all people, and approximately half of the people who attend JTB productions are not Jewish.
Heller has also enriched the artistic community as a puppeteer with the Puck Players Puppet Theater, as a producer for the Mosaic Film Festival, on the board of directors of the Bloomington Playwrights Project and the Indiana University Theatre Department, and as the founder of the IU Emeriti House annual art exhibit.
Pat East, Support of Local Businesses
Since 2017, Pat East has served as executive director of The Mill, where he’s helped put into motion projects like the Code/IT Academy, a code school for the unemployed and underemployed; ReBoot, a business pre-accelerator for the formerly incarcerated; and Bloomington Remote, which recruits people to live in Bloomington while they work remotely for companies located elsewhere. East refers to The Mill as a place where “dreamers and doers come together to build tomorrow’s companies.”
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