Gov. Cox and First Lady Cox recognize recipients of the first annual Governor’s Spirit of Service Award

Today, Gov. Spencer Cox and First Lady Abby Cox recognized the outstanding service that Utahns are doing throughout the state. Four exemplary citizens and four community organizations were awarded the first annual Governor’s Spirit of Service Awards. 

“We wanted to pay tribute to individuals and groups who are making a big difference in our community through acts of service,” Gov. Cox said. “Utah leads the nation in volunteerism and service and these unsung heroes exemplify the best of Utah.”

During the Spirit of Service Award ceremony, Gov. Cox highlighted each individual and organization sharing the impact that their service has had in our state. Winners were selected from more than 100 nominations from around the state.


Cristina Diaz de Leon (posthumous award) created Rancho Market COVID-19 vaccine clinics, advanced inclusion and cultural celebrations, empowered youth, led out on service projects, and strongly believed in “meeting people where they are.” Unfortunately, she passed away from lung cancer on Jan. 22, 2022, so her daughter Maya Mismash and other family accepted the award on her behalf.

The Little Lambs Foundation for Kids provides comfort kits for children placed into foster care, emergency shelters, and escaping domestic violence, Northern Utah’s only direct service diaper bank, has distributed over 1.75 million diapers to Utah families.

Lenise Peterman is the volunteer mayor of Helper. She was nominated for working tirelessly on behalf of her community, being a key volunteer for the city revitalization committee, writing grants for the city, securing key partnerships, and acting as a mentor to aspiring changemakers.

Ruff Haven Crisis Sheltering Center helps to prevent individuals from having to surrender their pets by providing shelter when someone is experiencing a crisis, temporary hardships, medical emergencies and more.

Emily Rojo Mendoza is a student at Kearns High School. She tutors fellow Kearns HS students, helps at food banks, serves as the president of the My Kearns Evidence 2 Success Youth Council, has raised thousands of dollars for the local food pantries and the homeless youth resource center.

Artes de México en Utah creates cultural awareness, provides diverse perspectives, builds understanding and cross-cultural competence, helps the Latino-Hispanic youth connect with their roots and be proud of their multicultural heritage.

Andilynn Chambers is a 10-year-old with a very giving heart. She asks for donations rather than birthday gifts, and has donated more than 1,000 items to the local homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and The Christmas Box House.

First Lady Abby Cox emphasized the importance of showing up for our community and friends, saying people need a sense of purpose, sense of identity and sense of community. Each of these awardees have helped build a sense of community.