Press Releases

Volvo Names Champion For Native American Housing As America’s Greatest Hometown Hero At Historic New York Ceremony







Seattle's Robert Young Named Top Hero at First-Ever


Volvo for Life Awards ceremony in Times Square; Other Heroes Honored



Awards presented by Hank Aaron, Bill Bradley, Dr. Jane Goodall,


Maya Lin, Dr. Sally Ride and Eunice Kennedy Shriver;


Young receives a Volvo car for life

NEW YORK CITY (April 16, 2003) - Robert Young, a Seattle-based champion for Native Americans experiencing a housing crisis, was named America's greatest hometown hero tonight at the first-ever Volvo for Life Awards ceremony.


Held in Times Square, the Volvo for Life Awards ceremony caps off the largest-ever national search for and celebration of everyday heroes, providing more than $1 million in awards and financial contributions. Launched in December, the program called for people nationwide to nominate a hometown hero they know at More than 2,000 nominations were submitted. A panel of eight celebrity judges -- Hank Aaron, Bill Bradley, Dr. Jane Goodall, Caroline Kennedy, Maya Lin, Paul Newman, Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Dr. Sally Ride -- helped select the top winners.


Young, 41, is the executive director of Red Feather Development Group, which is dedicated to helping hundreds of thousands of Native Americans experiencing a housing crisis. Of the two million Native Americans living on reservations, more than 300,000 are homeless. Many more live together -- in groups of up to 20 people in some cases -- in dilapidated shacks and uninsulated trailers. And, every winter, native elders freeze to death in their homes. Young and his volunteers teach reservation residents how to build homes out of a sustainable, abundant resource: straw bales.


Young has partnered with the University of Washington and Penn State University to design a model that is three times more energy efficient than a typical home. With Young's help, some families save enough in monthly heating costs alone to pay the majority of a home mortgage. More importantly, they are finding a lasting solution to a problem that has plagued their communities for decades.


To recognize Young's efforts, Volvo presented him with a new Volvo car every three years for the rest of his life; $10,000 in cash; and $50,000 to be donated to the charity of his choice.


"We are very lucky to have met so many incredible individuals -- 2,036 nominees, to be exact -- who embody the values of conscience, care and character this program was intended to celebrate," said Vic Doolan, president and chief executive officer for Volvo Cars of North America. "Robert's efforts toward bringing hope and housing to the Native Americans is truly extraordinary. We appreciate the judges' mighty task of selecting our top winner, and we congratulate all of our nominees."


Hosted by Jim Belushi, the Volvo for Life Awards was attended by more than 400 media, entertainment and other executives at Times Square Studios, Ltd. in New York. Six of the Volvo for Life Awards judges -- Aaron, Bradley, Goodall, Lin, Ride and Shriver -- recognized Young and other top hometown heroes, including:

  • Pamela Stack of Miami and Bao Xiong of Wausau, Wis. Along with Young, Stack and Xiong were among the Volvo for Life Awards' top three winners. Stack, 48, is a domestic abuse survivor who is Miami's leading advocate against family violence. Xiong, 37, is a mother of six who volunteers her time to provide job placement and skills assistance to Hmong refugee women in Wausau. Stack and Xiong each received $10,000 in cash and $50,000 to be donated to the charities of their choice.


(Detailed bios of Stack and Xiong at the conclusion of the release.)


The 2003 Volvo for Life Awards also featured music performances by the Wallflowers, Los Lobos and Heather Headley. For information about the event or to see the stories of more than 100 of the heroes nominated for this year's awards, visit


Additional Hero Biographies

  • Pamela Stack, 48, Miami, Fla. A domestic-abuse survivor, Stack was stabbed multiple times, beaten and strangled by her estranged husband on Christmas Day 1990. Over the past 13 years, Stack has become Miami's leading advocate against family violence, volunteering to help hundreds of women and children leave abusive relationships or deal with the aftermath of abuse by taking them into her own home or helping them relocate to different states or countries. She co-founded the "Save-A-Life Campaign," which includes a cell-phone donation program that arms people in abusive relationships, the elderly and disabled people with phones that automatically dial 911, and a student-education program on teen violence and date rape. Stack is the author and presenter of 10 training programs including, "Don't Die For Love," "From Victim to Victory" and "Domestic Violence in the Workplace."
  • Bao Xiong, 37, Wausau, Wis. Years ago, as a refugee from Laos with no formal education, Xiong discovered that many Hmong women in Wausau's 4,000-member Hmong community wanted to help support their families by working outside their homes. However, their limited English-speaking skills and the unspoken rules of patriarchal Hmong relationships kept them from working. Xiong quickly learned English so she could be an interpreter for Hmong women seeking jobs and obtained a childcare license so she could care for children of Hmong women who were working or taking English classes. Today, Xiong, a mother of six, is the unofficial social worker for Hmong women in Wausau, helping more than 30 Hmong women obtain and retain jobs, mentoring Hmong women starting daycare businesses, caring for Hmong children, and bridging the cultural gap between Hmong and American residents in countless other ways.



Eric Davis, Haberman & Associates, 612-338-3900,

Sören Johansson, Volvo Cars of North America, 949-341-6719,

Photo: For photos and more information on the Volvo for Life Awards:

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