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Fran Nixon Award 2018

R2W’s 26th Annual Awards Ceremony

We have within our reach the promise of a renewed America. We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light. And it is expressed by all who know the irresistible force of a child’s hand, of a friend who stands by you and stays there, a volunteer’s generous gesture, an idea that is simply right.  President George HW Bush


By Invitation Only – click here

February 24, 2024
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Mountain
Boulder, CO  80301

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A small celebration for neighbors and friends

Brigadier General Thomas Mills (retired),
Assistant Adjutant General, US Army National Guard

Special Thanks To
Chris Lites & Debby Wilson

Medals via President’s Volunteer Services Awards


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Medals from President Biden

Bronze Medal

  • Debora Henderson

Gold Medals 

  • Fern Ballou
  • Pastor Hosea Cannon Jr.
  • Larry Gustafson
  • Jay VanderWerff
  • Chuck Wright

Lifetime Achievement Award 

  • Rob Brazell

Company Award – Gold Medal

  • Project:  Return To Work Inc.  (R2W)


Chuck Wright, R2W Director, Chair Mentors Committee

Chuck Wright has volunteered for multiple positions over the years including key roles for R2W’s large scale Military & Veterans Employment Expos (MVEEs) with the Department of Defense ESGR, Veterans Affairs, Department of Labor, Colorado Department of Labor & Employment, Colorado National Guard, and others.  We typically provided training and placement services over a 3-day period to about 1,000 to 2,000 active-duty military service members and veterans, and 100 to 200 employers.  Chuck currently serves as the Chair of the Mentors Committee on R2W’s Board of Directors.  He leads weekly meetings to coordinate 4 tiers of mentorships ranging from an hour at occasional events to 5-year commitments.  Chuck is a true Point Of Light adding brilliance to our path forward.


Debora Henderson, CPA, P.A.
R2W Volunteer Accountant

Debbie Henderson was a close friend of Fran Nixon, R2W Founder, and has volunteered as R2W’s accountant for years.  Thanks to Debbie, R2W has never missed a payroll, and the Board of Directors has always had timely and accurate financial documents for their management decisions.  Debbie and Fern’s church has also hosted several R2W workshops over the years:  First Church of Christ Scientists, Englewood, Florida.  Debbie is a model volunteer whose leadership shines bright in our charitable cause, and we are deeply grateful.


Larry Gustafson, R2W Director and Legal Advisor

Larry Gustafson was a close friend of Fran Nixon, Founder.  He has served as Director and Legal Advisor at R2W for decades and is the principal signature for the company.   He has held multiple offices over the years and currently serves on the Executive Committee as Treasurer.  He has tirelessly volunteered thousands of hours and his shining light has guided us to safe waters again and again. He is an inspiration for our whole community.  Larry is a partner at Baum and Gustafson, PC and provides responsive, creative, and knowledgeable representation on business, tax, and estate matters.  Trusted Business Law Firm Dedicated to Companies and Individuals in Denver, Colorado Since 1979.


Pastor Hosea Cannon Jr., R2W Director and Chaplain


Pastor Hosea Cannon Jr. was a close friend of Fran Nixon, R2W Founder, and has served in a variety of positions over several years.  He currently serves as R2W’s Chaplain, and Director on the Volunteer Committee.  He also hosts frequent R2W workshops for volunteers and for job seekers at The Greater Faith Worship Center where he is the spiritual leader.  For decades, Pastor Cannon Jr. has also been the Chaplain for the Denver Sheriff Department.  His motto is to give people a hand up, not a handout — a true inspiration for all.

Rob Brazell, R2W Founder

Rob Brazell founded Project:  Return To Work Inc.  (R2W) with his father, mother, sister, and lifetime mentor out of his victories over AIDS.  Rather than returning to his career in aerospace, he dedicated the remainder of his life to helping other disabled Americans back to work, back to life.  Like his mother, Fran Nixon, he selflessly volunteered thousands of hours over the decades.  Prior to his Lifetime Achievement Award from President Biden, Rob was given a gold medal from President Obama for his service to the Colorado National Guard and the Department of Defense Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve at their collaborative Military and Veterans Employment Expos (MVEE),


Fern Ballou, R2W Chaplain & R2W Director

Fern Ballou was a close friend of Fran Nixon, R2W Founder and has served both as a paid Chaplain and as a volunteer Director for several years.  Fern and Fran’s church has hosted several R2W Workshops over the years:  First Church of Christ Scientists, Englewood, Florida.  Fern currently serves as the Secretary of R2W’s Board of Directors and is a member of the Executive Committee and the Mentors Committee.  She blasts through the age barrier effortlessly and is the cohesion for our charity.  Her tirelessly commitment makes a meaningful difference.  A lasting impact.

Shine on, Fern!


Return to Work Day of Caring Recruiting Event | FOX31 Denver (kdvr.com)


2023 Employee of the Year

Nikki D ‘Agostino, R2W Program Manager and Career Counselor

Nikki has performed above and beyond for nearly a decade and is the main force behind Project:  Return To Work Inc.  (R2W).  Hundreds of clients will remember her for the rest of their lives.  She helped many not only get back to work but to stay on the job.  Lasting employment – the positive outcomes that we’re in business for.  Nikki is one of our nation’s brightest lights.


Gayleen Pratt, Owner, StaffCV

“Gayleen Pratt donated underlying technologies that have given R2W a competitive advantage for many years.  She is from New Zealand and not eligible for a Presidential medal but deserves all the respect we can muster.  She is a brilliant light illuminating a loving spirit around the world, and I am deeply grateful.”  Rob Brazell, Founder, Project:  Return To Work Inc.  (R2W)

Previous Medals from Presidents Trump & Obama


Fran Nixon Award 2018

2018:  Pastor Hosea Cannon Jr presents Fran Nixon with a gold medal, coin, and lifetime achievement award from President Trump in Englewood, Florida.  From left:  Pastor Hosea Cannon Jr., [], Fern Ballou, Fran Nixon, and Rob Brazell (Gold Medal from President Obama).  Photo by The Daily Sun, YourSun.com, Florida.

Octogenarian Earns Lifetime Achievement Award

Fran Nixon remembered, helped 18,000 find work

By NANCY J. SEMON STAFF WRITER Sun News Apr 18, 2020

Check back for uplifting stories about more winners!


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Back To Work, Back To Life

We All Serve


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About The President’s Volunteer Services Awards


The President’s Volunteer Service Award is a civil award bestowed by the President of the United States. Established by executive order by George W. Bush, the award was established to honor volunteers that give hundreds of hours per year helping others through the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The award can be granted to individuals, families and organizations located throughout the United States. Depending on the amount of service hours completed, individuals can receive the Bronze, Silver, Gold, and/or the President’s Call to Service Award (also referred to the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award).[1] The Call to Service Award is the most prestigious, and it has been awarded to few Americans to recognize over 4,000 hours of extraordinary service including notable honorees such as S. Truett CathyMark Carman, and Zach Bonner. Awardees may receive a personalized certificate, an official pin, medallion, and/or a congratulatory letter from the President depending on the award earned.

The President’s Volunteer Service Award is now an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Points of Light Institute.[2]

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About Points Of Light 



Points of Light is an international nonprofitnonpartisan organization headquartered in GeorgiaUnited States dedicated to engaging more people and resources in solving serious social problems through voluntary service.

Each year, Points of Light mobilizes millions of people through affiliates in approximately 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and companies.[1]


Points of Light was formed in 2007 by the merger of the Points of Light Foundation and Hands On Network. Encouraged by major donors and affiliates, the two organizations merged with the goal of strengthening volunteerism, streamlining costs and services and deepening impact.[2]

The Points of Light Foundation was created in 1990 as a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C. to promote the spirit of volunteerism described by U.S. President George H. W. Bush in his 1989 inaugural address,[3] “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good.”[4]

President Bush used the “thousand points of light” theme frequently,[3] including in his 1991 State of the Union address in which he said:

We have within our reach the promise of a renewed America. We can find meaning and reward by serving some higher purpose than ourselves, a shining purpose, the illumination of a Thousand Points of Light. And it is expressed by all who know the irresistible force of a child’s hand, of a friend who stands by you and stays there, a volunteer’s generous gesture, an idea that is simply right.[5]

In 1991 the National Volunteer Center, which had begun in 1970 as the National Center for Voluntary Action, was merged into it. The merged organization also became known during the 2000s as the Points of Light Foundation and Volunteer Center National Network.

The Foundation and its expanded network acted as community hubs to connect volunteers to opportunities, work with local nonprofits and businesses to establish and improve volunteer programs, and, overall, bolster the local infrastructure for the volunteering community.[3]

The Points of Light Foundation received an annual allocation from the Corporation for National and Community Service to manage some of that agency’s programs, and administered the President’s Volunteer Service Award program, which was created by President George W. Bush in 2003. The group also sponsored conferences, offered training and other assistance to its network of volunteer centers, and recognized volunteers through a Daily Point of Light award.[3]

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