Comfort Cases, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting hope and dignity to youth in foster care, today announces the winners of its annual awards and scholarships to individuals and organizations who best promote positive messaging regarding foster care which support Comfort Cases’ mission and goals. The winners will be recognized at Comfort Cases’ 7th annual gala, Sunday, October 3 at a “Backyard BBQ”. Sharane Calister, from NBC’s The Voice will be the headlining performer.
Rob Scheer, founder of Comfort Cases, shares a special award being presented this year: “‘The ‘Alice O’Sullivan Award’, which is our ‘Volunteer of the Year’ Award, is being presented to EVERY PERSON who has volunteered their time and energies to Comfort Cases this year. Even through the pandemic, there have been packing parties, donation drives, and volunteers at our center every day. How could we not recognize every person who has helped us continue to help youth in foster care?”
The Barbara Harrison Award: Leigh Anne Touhy
This award is given to a recipient who has improved the lives of children in Foster Care and best promotes the mission of Comfort Cases. Leigh Anne has been a supporter of Comfort Cases since its founding and as a mother to a youth from foster care is outspoken in issues about the foster care system.
The Milton S. Hershey Award: Soapbox
This award is given to a corporation that demonstrates best in practice Corporate Social responsibility. Since its founding 10 years ago, Soapbox has donated more than 22 million bars of soap to those in need. This year, Soapbox set a Guinness World record for the “most hygiene kits donated in one week,” and as part of a 16-city tour, donated more than 140,000 hygiene kits to organizations that help those in foster care, women in need, the homeless and more.
The “Kids Helping Kids” Award: Aryonna Martin
This award is given to a youth (under 17) who has demonstrated outstanding service to those in Foster Care. At just the age of 12, Aryonna, is Comfort Cases’ very first National Junior Ambassador. She is also the 2021 Miss USA National Miss Pre-Teen WV. She has hosted numerous donation drives using her platform and voice.
The Scott Isaacson Scholarship Award: Symone Adams and Niasha Torres
High School students from across the country applied for this scholarship. This year, due to the quantity and quality of applicants, it’s been decided that two students will each be awarded a scholarship of $5,000 to be used for college or technical school to aid them in building a career.
This year’s winners are: Symone Adams, 17, from the DC Metro Area, a freshman at Georgia State University, who will major in biology; and Niasha Torres, 17, from Hamden, CT, a freshman at Central Connecticut State University who will major in nursing. Both of our award winners are currently in the foster care system.
This award is given in honor and memory of Scott Isaacson, of Integrity Staffing. Scott was tragically lost in 2019. Scott and his husband Kevin were huge advocates of foster care programs and proudly adopted their son from a foster program in Reno, NV. Integrity Staffing has been a great supporter of Comfort Cases for years.
Recent research states that less than 3% of youth in foster care graduate from college. The Comfort Cases community is committed to changing that number. Education opens doors to better opportunities and every child deserves the chance for a bright future.
This year’s Backyard BBQ Gala will be unlike traditional galas as it will be held at Tusculum Farm in Laytonsville, MD. “After more than a year of being cooped up inside due to the pandemic, we felt that being in a hotel ballroom dressed in black-tie and formalwear wasn’t the right message we wanted to send,” continued Scheer. “My husband and my five children – all adopted through foster care – live on a small farm and thought the idea of having our gala outside on a BIG farm would be so much fun – and for the first time, we’re inviting children to come with their parents and caregivers to celebrate the amazing work our team and all of our volunteers have achieved.”
Beyond the awards, scholarships and fundraising activities (including a live and silent auction), guests will be entertained by two outstanding performers. Sharane Calister, best known for her appearance on NBC’s The Voice (coached by Alicia Keyes and Adam Levine) and The Como Brothers, Matt and Andrew.
Sharane, who was in foster care as a youth, is a proud supporter of Comfort Cases. Now 27, she is an advocate for adoptees and youth in foster care. She is the founder of the “Sharane Calister Summer Sessions”, a summer camp and mentoring program for teen girls in foster care.
Matt and Andrew combine a “pop and rock sound with a blues vibe” and have written and recorded multiple albums and Eps of original songs. Their songs have been featured on TV shows including Keeping Up with the Kardashians, The Real World and elsewhere.
A silent auction with all proceeds benefiting Comfort Cases opens Wednesday, September 29. Auction items can be viewed, and bids can be placed (even if not attending the BBQ) by visiting
About Comfort Cases:
Comfort Cases is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to inspire communities to bring dignity and hope to youth entering foster care. Since 2013, we have distributed over 150,000 Comfort Cases and Comfort XL duffel bags to children in the foster care system in all 50 states, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. We are a gold-level GuideStar participant, demonstrating our commitment to transparency.
Comfort Cases is based in Rockville, MD.
Comfort Cases UK is based in Shenley, Hertfordshire, England, United Kingdom.