2014 Harman Award
Brien Dews: 2014 Harman Award Recipient
Brien Dews is the recipient of the 2014 Harman Award, presented by the Phoenix Society’s board of directors to an individual or family, corporation, foundation or service organization with a proven record of exceptional generosity through direct financial support and/or volunteer effort.
Although Brien may describe himself as a “reluctant participant” at his first Phoenix WBC in 2001, it wasn’t long before he was an avid Phoenix Society supporter. In fact, by the next year he had organized the first of what has become an annual event, Buses by the Beach, through which Volkswagen (and other) van enthusiasts raise money for the Phoenix Society. Over the past 12 years, the Michigan-based group has combined Volkswagen-style camping with fundraising at annual gatherings that draw enthusiasts from throughout the US and Canada. Since its inception Buses by the Beach has raised more than $120,000 for the Phoenix Society.
Brien has not only attended every Phoenix WBC since his first, but has also taken on a key logistical role. He and his van were unexpectedly pressed into service in 2004 when help was need to get the conference shipment back to the Phoenix Society office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from North Carolina. Now each year he drives the truck, transporting all of the Phoenix Society office equipment and supplies, to the Congress. In addition, since 2009, he has been responsible for coordinating all the exhibitors there.
Brien also volunteers as a Phoenix advocate, a Phoenix SOAR peer supporter, and a moderator of the Phoenix web-based chats. He is able to share with others his amazing story of recovery from the plane crash in which he sustained his burn injuries. After 6 weeks in a drug-induced coma, months in therapy, and several surgeries, especially on his right hand which took the brunt of the burns, Brien was able to return to his profession as a clockmaker.
In naming Brien the 2014 Harman Award recipient, the Phoenix Society board of directors has recognized his demonstrated outstanding volunteer and charitable responsibility and generosity that encourages others to take philanthropic leadership roles within the Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors.