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Autism advocate receives Jefferson Award


Autism advocate and Autism Society of West Virginia Putnam County Chapter President Nathalie Henchey is scheduled to receive a Jefferson Award today for her work in raising autism awareness.

The award will be presented to the Teays Valley resident at a recognition ceremony in Parkersburg.

“I was shocked,” Henchey, a Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield health coach and registered nurse, said of learning of the distinction. “My manager nominated me, but I never thought I’d win.”

Henchey is donating the $1,000 cash portion of the award to the Autism Society of West Virginia, her charity of choice.

“This is the 11th year we’ve been honoring our Jefferson Award winners at Highmark Health,” Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Manager of Corporate Communications Cathy McAllister said. “Out of 96 nominees, we’re proud to say we have three winners here in West Virginia: two out of Parkersburg and Nathalie out of our Charleston offices. Nathalie is very passionate about her autism work.”

“Our employees are our company’s greatest asset. They not only give 100 percent to their jobs, but they also go above and beyond by supporting community programs,” said Evan Frazier, senior vice president of community affairs for Highmark Health. “Our spirit of employee volunteerism is alive and contagious with thousands of hours committed to programs each year that assist nonprofit organizations in the communities where we do business.”

Highmark distinguishes and honors outstanding employee volunteers such as Henchey annually through the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, and participates in national Make a Difference Day and the United Way Day of Caring.

“We have a long history of giving back to our communities, and what better way to support that mission than by making it easier for our employees to connect with volunteer opportunities for the causes that matter most to them,” added Frazier.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, along with Sen. Robert Taft Jr. and public servant Sam Beard created a “Nobel Prize” for public and community service, the Jefferson Award, in 1972. Since then, the awards have recognized accomplished change-makers and unsung heroes. The Jefferson Awards are presented at both the national and local levels.


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