A regional health center in Los Chiles, Nicaragua where VIDA setup a free health and dental clinic for two days. Photographed for the story "Pura Vida" in St. Thomas Magazine. Vida, a Costa Rica based volunteer tourism organization, was started by St. Thomas alum Sondra Elizondo. College students pursuing medical, dental, or veterinary careers including St. Thomas pre-med senior Shelley Coughlin participate in the trips that go throughout Central America.

Humanitarian Award

The Humanitarian Award recognizes an alumnus or alumna for contributions to the betterment of the spiritual and material welfare of the less fortunate. Since 1968, Alumni Relations has honored an individual each year for their extraordinary contributions.

Know someone deserving?

Nominations are accepted throughout the year.

Beth Burns is executive director and co-founder of p:ear, a non-profit program to help homeless youth in Portland, Oregon.

2019 Humanitarian Award Recipient

Beth Burns '94

Since 2002, Burns' nonprofit organization, p:ear, has offered life-changing services to Portland, Oregon’s, homeless youth through programs in education, arts and recreation. As co-founder and executive director, she brings dignity, hope and a positive vision for the future to more than 50 young people a day – almost 5,000 over the course of p:ear’s existence.


First Awarded in 1968

This award was created to recognize the selfless work of alumni who live the mission of bettering the lives of others. 
In recognition of your inspiring and selfless service to others, the University of St. Thomas commends you and confers upon you its Humanitarian Award.
Inscription on 2019 plaque
James Daly is interviewed at home for his 2018 award. Dr. Wayne Thalhuber '60 (biology) poses for a portrait in his Mendota Heights home December 20, 2016. Thalhuber is the recipient of the 2017 St. Thomas Day Humanitarian Award. Mark Crea '78 is CEO of Feed My Starving Children


James Daly '69

After a 26-year career with the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office, Daly settled into a life of volunteer service the likes of which few people could imagine. He has shown generosity of time and spirit to countless victims of catastrophe as well as those who aid them, from disaster-relief work at 9/11’s Ground Zero, to Hurricane Katrina relief, to on-site management in the wake of the 35W bridge collapse (for which he received a President’s Volunteer Service Award from President Bush himself).


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Wayne Thalhuber, M.D. '60

A retired physician, Thalhuber’s contributions to medicine are longstanding and exemplify his devotion to easing the suffering of individuals in their last days of life. He served as diplomat to the American Board of Internal Medicine from 1968-2001, and as diplomat to the American Board of Palliative Care and Hospice from 1992-2001. He also was chairman of the Ramsey County Medical Society in 1987; medical director of Our Lady of Good Counsel from 1968-2008; and medical director of HealthEast Hospice from 1992-2001.


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Mark Crea '78

Crea serves as executive director and CEO of the Minnesota-based nonprofit Feed My Starving Children, an organization that in 2014-15 facilitated the shipment of 229,236,216 MannaPacks, vitamin- and mineral-rich rice- or potato-based food packs, to starving children and families in nearly 70 countries.


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