Published On: Thu, Dec 28th, 2017

Giving Unselfishly of Themselves

By: C. Ron Allen

The late humorist, writer, columnist and journalist Erma Bombeck once said that volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain loving one another.

She was right, and recently I met three people who epitomize the group of human beings Bombeck was referring to when I attended the Community Impact Awards, sponsored by the Faulk Center for Counseling.

About 200 people turned out for the event at Broken Sound Country Club, which gave glimpses into the lives of Dr. Holly Katz, Gerald Yass and Rita Thrasher as well as the work they have done that has been noticed and appreciated by so many.

Each honoree received a standing ovation for the contribution he or she made to the Center over the years. The Community Impact Awards recognize individuals who support the Faulk Center’s mission of providing free and low-cost mental health counseling services to all people.

Katz has been the clinical and training director at the Center for the past 15 years.  Under her leadership and direction, the Center’s mental health services have flourished.

With a passion for teaching and training, she has focused on improving the quality, breadth, and intensity of the Center’s internship and practicum programs. Several of her protégées were in attendance and offered praise for her caring and compassionate leadership.

Through the expansion of graduate training, the Faulk Center has become a first-rate, comprehensive mental health service provider with a greater ability to meet the growing mental health demands of the community.

Through a unique partnership with graduate students pursuing doctoral and master’s degrees in a mental health field and volunteer mental health professionals, the Faulk Center offers a plethora of services including therapy, various support groups, psychological testing and educational workshops.

The result is a win-win – the Center receives the services and the students get first-hand experience under the guidance of licensed professionals. I had the opportunity to speak to a few volunteers and everyone was happy to be a part of this organization. Many remain volunteers after they complete their internship.

The Faulk Center in 2011 received Nova Southeastern University’s inaugural award for outstanding practicum site and four years later Faulk’s doctoral psychology internship was awarded the highest level of accreditation by the American Psychological Association.

Yass knows that Community service is a great way to demonstrate one’s values and to give back to the community. In fact, he has been doing that since he made Boca his permanent home in 2002.

The retired certified public accountant, who became a snow bird in Boca Raton in the early 1980s, has a big heart for making life better for children.

“The world belongs to our children. We have to help them and provide them with the emotional tools and resources to live a happy, meaningful life,” he said. “The Faulk Center is at the forefront of this endeavor. I also believe strongly in their support of the LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to the Faulk Center there is a safe, nurturing, and accepting place in our community for LGBTQ+ individuals and their loved ones.”

One of my favorite people in this world happens to be the recipient of the Advocacy Award. 

After retiring from teaching in Broward County 1988, Thrasher became an Americorps volunteer and later accepted the position of executive director for Boca Raton’s Promise – The Alliance For Youth.

When money dwindled, partners and donors determined to focus on mental health. She used her experience in alternative schools and in caring for a mentally ill daughter to address mental health.

The new non-profit attracted community leaders who helped organize the Palm Beach County Action Alliance for Mental Health in 2011.  She established the Annual Breaking The Silence Voice Awards in 2014 and the “I AM 1” Advocacy a year later.  She was also instrumental in bringing partner in bringing the Mental Health First Aid trainings to the county.

After hearing their stories and listening to each recipient’s acceptance remarks, my belief – that giving is one of the best investments you can make towards achieving genuine happiness – was reconfirmed.

There are so many people, organizations and institutions here in our community who are engaged in exemplary works of giving.

As we go through this season of giving, may we be reminded that we can make a difference in our community throughout the year, not just in December.

C. Ron Allen can be reached at or  

About the Author

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>