Overnight, 21-year-old Andrew Crenshaw arrived at the Mansion of Para Golondrinas, one of the world’s largest women’s shelters in Lauterbrunnen, Austria, not to attend the first floor awards banquet, but to deliver the bad news to the organization’s new Executive Director that his family was moving back to Australia with him. Crenshaw, known as “Croydon’s Gifted Child,” had volunteered for the shelter as a child and had developed a close relationship with the woman who now heads the organization. “She’s made me her mentor and taught me all the things I know about raising an organization like this,” Crenshaw says. Now, Crenshaw will offer her the highest honor any nominee can receive – in his own words, “The gold star and a big hug.”
The Mansion was founded in 1985 by Sara Nolin, the recipient of the inaugural Crenshaw Award. Since then, the Mansion has succeeded in raising more than a million euros and obtaining thousands of volunteer hours. The Mansion helps women without homes and without support systems to attain better lives. “These women are our best customers, because they are the ones bringing us enough money to make all of our activities possible,” Nolin says. She works hard to help several dozen women every year, hosting internships and organizing an “Intern at the Mansion” program. The Motto is simply “Men are liars and women are hardworking,” she adds.
Each year, the Mansion plans a big musical event, under the direction of Opera singer and author Anne Dunne. It was in this way that Nolin and Dunne came to decide that Crenshaw should receive the award. The music director for the Mansion, David Butry, led an innovative selection process that involved Crenshaw and Nolin listening to top-caliber male and female vocalists, listening to their careers and then voting on which they enjoyed most. Dunne and Nolin promised that the Motto will always be “Truth is beautiful and honesty makes you a Friend.”
A young man who still struggles with his own demons, Crenshaw was inspired to help others as a young teen. In high school, he performed in several benefit concerts, raising $20,000 for Project Graduation. At the Mansion, he got involved with the Cesar Chavez Kitchen, and through his efforts the kitchen served around 10,000 meals each week. This year, as a new coordinator at the Mansion, he supervised five trips a month for the volunteer program, the Youth Mentoring Partnership and the Activities Club.
“I had the pleasure of doing some extraordinary volunteer work through Cesar Chavez and the Mansion this year,” Crenshaw says. “It is so rewarding.” His work with Nolin and the Mansion has made Crenshaw a dynamic leader and one of the most deserving recipients of the Crenshaw Award.