Blashek Among Five Honorees to Receive Humanitarian Award From Maria Shriver

Tags: HeroStories

June 7, 2010 LOS ANGELES - Carolyn Blashek, founder of Operation Gratitude, the military support organization that sends care packages to deployed troops, is among five recipients of the Minerva Award, honoring women "who serve on the front-lines of humanity," California's First Lady announced on Good Morning America last week. Blashek was selected for the award along with Oprah Winfrey and former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

Maria Shriver will personally present the honorees with their awards on Oct. 26, 2010 at a special ceremony during the afternoon session of The Women's Conference at the Long Beach Convention Center. Tickets for the event go on sale at 9am PST on June 23.

The other honorees are:

~Oral Lee Brown, founder of the Oral Lee Brown Foundation, which provides educational assistance and financial scholarships to school children.

~Sister Terry Dodge, executive director of Crossroads Inc., which provides transitional housing, education, career and counseling services and support to women released from prison.

~Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman Associate Supreme Court Justice, and founder of, a web-based education program designed to teach students civics and inspire them to become active participants in our democracy.

~Oprah Winfrey, founder of the Oprah Angel Network and the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa.

"This year's Minerva Award honorees are women who live with a deep sense of purpose and who are passionately dedicated to serving others," Shriver said. "These Minervas all identified problems and unmet needs in their communities and have worked tirelessly to solve them,'' she said. "By honoring them, we hope to inspire others to be 'Architects of Change' just like them."

"I am honored to be in the company of so many extraordinary women who have received the Minerva," said Blashek. "I am particularly grateful for this award because it is a public acknowledgment of the many great Americans who participate in Operation Gratitude, and a thoughtful tribute to our courageous Military heroes who inspire all of us" she added.

Named for the Roman goddess Minerva who graces the California State Seal, the awards were founded by Shriver in 2004 to "honor remarkable women who, in the spirit of Minerva, changed California and the nation with their courage, wisdom and strength.''

Minerva Award winners receive $25,000 grants from the conference to further their work.

Shriver is joined again this year by Target, which is partnering with The Women's Conference to present The Minerva Awards ceremony for the seventh consecutive year.

"Target is proud to continue its support of the Minerva Awards and celebrate the contributions of these five amazing women," said Laysha Ward, President, Community Relations, Target. "By honoring their outstanding accomplishments and sharing their stories, we hope to instill a passion of life-long learning and empower all women to be strong and dynamic leaders."

For the second straight year, The Women's Conference invited the public to participate in its Minerva Award research through an online recommendation process via its Web site. This year's honorees were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 candidates, 200 of whom originated from the online recommendation process. The pool of candidates was vetted and narrowed down by a conference research team. Shriver then selected the honorees from a list of 20 finalists.

Past Minerva Award recipients have included former First Lady Betty Ford ('05), Dr. Jane Goodall ('09), Billie Jean King ('08), Dr. Sally Ride ('06), Eunice Kennedy Shriver ('07), and Gloria Steinem ('08).

About Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude ( ) is the 501 (c) (3) non-profit, volunteer-based organization that annually sends 100,000+ care packages filled with snacks, entertainment items and personal letters of appreciation addressed to individual U.S. Service Members deployed in hostile regions. Our mission is to lift morale, bring a smile to a service member's face and express to all Armed Forces the appreciation and support of the American people. Each package contains donated product valued at ~$125 and costs the organization $15 to assemble and ship. Since it's inception in 2003, Operation Gratitude has sent more than 550,000 care packages to American Military overseas.

About The Women's Conference

The Mission of The Women's Conference Organization is to create Architects of ChangeĀ® - people from all walks of life who see a problem and seek to create the solution, be it in their home, their community, their state or our world. Led California First Lady Maria Shriver, The Women's Conference has created a global community of Architects of Change who gather every year at the nation's premier forum for women in Long Beach, CA. More than 30,000 women attend the two-day nonpartisan conference and many thousands more watch the event live online. Women's - the Home for Architects of Change - has become a thriving online community of more than one million women who visit the site to be empowered with daily editorial and video content, inspirational conversations and stories, and life-changing tips, tools and resources. For more information about The Women's Conference, visit:

About Target

Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) serves guests at 1,740 stores in 49 states nationwide and at Target is committed to providing a fun and convenient shopping experience with access to unique and highly differentiated products at affordable prices. Since 1946, the corporation has given 5 percent of its income through community grants and programs like Take Charge of Education. Today, that giving equals more than $3 million a we