Wawa Welcome America

The 2023 Wawa Foundation Hero Award and $50K grant goes to…?

The winner of the Wawa Foundation Hero Award and recipient of a $50,000 grant was announced during Wawa Welcome America 2023 festivities on July 4th

NBC Universal, Inc.

Wawa is honoring nonprofit organizations serving the Philadelphia community with its 2023 Wawa Foundation Hero Award as it continues its "run" of recognizing work in the community.

Love Pray Peace Veterans Residence Project, Philly House, Strawberry Mansion Learning Center and Students Run Philly Style were the 2023 finalists.

On July 4th in the shadow of Independence Hall, the 2023 award and $50,000 grant was awarded to Students Run Philly Style during the Wawa Welcome America Celebration of Freedom Ceremony.

The other three finalists received a $10,000 grant.

"What does it mean to be a hero to our communities? The Wawa Foundation Hero Award honors a non-profit organization, and its volunteers, serving Philadelphia by providing services that build stronger communities through preserving our independence, protecting our safety and mentoring and inspiring our youth," the Wawa Foundation said on its website.

Here were the stories (according to Wawa) of each "Hero" nonprofit:

Love Pray Peace Veterans Residence Project

Love Pray Peace Project (LP3) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the needs of homeless veterans, particularly elderly veterans who are often the most vulnerable and in need of support. LP3’s mission is to provide a compassionate centered living community that will provide exposure to homeless veterans and services through education, empowerment, and housing services. Their goal is to develop a community for our veterans and their families, that focuses on strengthening services and giving a voice to Veterans and their families.

Philly Live's Aunyea Lachelle finds out what Love Pray Peace Project is doing to improve the lives of veterans. It is one of the local nonprofits up for the 2023 Wawa Foundation Hero Award.

Philly House

Philly House, formerly Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission, is the second oldest rescue mission in the country and the oldest in Pennsylvania, housing an average of 138 men every night in 2022. More than just a meal and a bed, they build relationships with their guests to give them hope and reorient their lives.  Their mission is that they open their doors every day with a welcoming spirit of compassion, walking alongside the homeless, hungry, and hurting in Philadelphia so that they may experience the love of God through acts of mercy, dignity, and respect. More than just a safe space, warm bed, and hot meal, they empower everyone they serve through deep, intentional engagement with compassionate programs and trauma-informed care-activating their potential for life transformation.

Rev. Jeremy Montgomery, CEO of Philly House, speaks with Philly Live's Aunyea Lachelle about the work the organization -- that's a finalist for the 2023 Wawa Foundation Hero Award -- does.

Strawberry Mansion Learning Center

The passion and focus of the Strawberry Mansion Learning Center is the youth and community in which they serve, and where they inspire, communicate, and educate.  For the past ten years, the Strawberry Mansion Learning Center has functioned as a free haven and learning center for neighborhood children ages 10-18. The center is completely free of charge and is funded entirely by donations. Their basic services include tutoring with local college volunteers, daily meals via partnerships with the city and Reading Terminal Market, an extensive children’s library, and a small computer lab. The Mission of Strawberry Mansion Learning Center is “To provide a safe place for students to learn and grow.”

Philly Live's Aunyea Lachelle spoke with Kevin Upshir, director of the Strawberry Mansion Learning Center, about their work and what the Wawa Foundation Hero Award prize money would mean to the nonprofit.

Students Run Philly Style

Students Run Philly Style (SRPS) transforms students’ lives through mentorship over miles of long-distance running and achievement. SRPS pairs Philadelphia students, in grades 6-12, with adult, volunteer mentors to train for an incredible challenge – completing a long-distance race. SRPS youth and Mentors train side by side, 3 times per week, for up to 9 months to reach their milestone goal of running the Blue Cross Broad Street 10-mile Run or the Philadelphia Marathon.  SRPS’ program is free including running shoes, gear, race entries, and transportation to and from all events, to students, mentors and schools enrolled.  SRPS is serving over 1,000 students in over 50 schools throughout the city.  This shared mission is transformative, helping students build confidence, resilience, and the ability to take on any challenge.

Lauren Kobylarz joins Philly Live's Aunyea Lachelle to share what Students Run Philly Style is doing for children in the community. The nonprofit is one of the finalists for the 2023 Wawa Foundation Hero Award.

Past winners include Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School (2022), the Veterans Group (2021), Broad Street Ministry (2020), Pennsylvania Center for Adapted Sports (2019), Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia (2018), Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey (2017) and SPIN (2016).

Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School was selected as the winner of the Wawa Foundation Hero Award Monday morning.
Contact Us