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2018 ESL Jefferson Award Winner: Geri Spino

May 17, 2018 06:13 AM

Each year, we ask our viewers to nominate people from our community for their volunteerism. The ESL Jefferson Awards are part of the national Jefferson Award Foundation which strives to build a culture of service in communities across the country. Founded in 1972 by well-known public servants including former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the Jefferson Awards are the country’s longest standing and most prestigious honor of its kind.

There are few things in life more painful than the death of a son or daughter. That's what happened to Geri Spino one night 14-years-ago in October.

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But Spino turned that tragedy into an opportunity to serve children, all to honor the legacy of her son. Spino is a finalist for the ESL Jefferson Award, honoring volunteers in our community.

On October 31, 2004, a three-time convicted drunk driver hit 28-year-old teacher Scott Spino as he walked along Alexander Street.

Scott's life ended that night.  But his work did not.  His parents started a foundation to continue his life mission, enriching the lives of children.

Deanna: "You lost Scott in October. By December you had already started the foundation. Where does the strength to do that come from?"

Geri Spino, Scott Spino Foundation: "It comes from a mother's love." 

And that love has now touched children throughout the greater Rochester community for 14 years.

Spino : "We're in Gates, Henrietta, Greece, the city, we're out in Holly, and Kendale."

They are keeping kids warm with new coats and inspiring their minds with good books.

Spino: "17 hundred books we give away a month...new books we give away."

She has an army of 200 volunteers who read to children, encouraging what they hope will be a life-long love of literature.

The foundation also awards scholarships to student-athletes from Scotts' alma mater Arcadia High School.  

The foundation has raised $450,000 for children in our community.

Deanna: "It sounds to me like you're not only motivated by the cause, but you're also motivated by what that cause represents and that is the spirit of your son.

Spino: "You're absolutely right." 

And now that work has made Geri Spino an ESL Jefferson Award finalist.  

Spino: "I'm so very grateful that more people will learn through my award, through the Jefferson Award, about our son and what a great man he was."

If you’d like to know more about the Scott Spino Foundation, visit the website

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