Obama Awards Purpose Prize Winners at the White House

Today President Obama honored an exclusive group of Americans who have lifted the lives of people struggling and suffering around the world.

Just 13 people received the Presidential Citizens Medal  Рa prestigious civilian honor second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom Рat a White House ceremony this afternoon.

And three of them are Purpose Prize winners. Judith Broder and Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman took the Prize in 2009 for bringing mental health services to people enduring intense anguish. Before he handed out the medals, Obama said that though the winners come from different backgrounds: “They are united by the choice that they made. They could have made excuses to do nothing. Instead they chose to help.” We don’t always get to choose the challenges that we face, but how we respond is entirely up to us.”

Broder – who received a kiss on the cheek from the president onstage – founded The Solders Project to heal veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and their families. Her organization, based in Los Angeles, operates across the country to provide free, unlimited counseling. (View a video of Broder here.)

The Aldermans founded the Peter C. Alderman Foundation in honor of their son, Peter, who died on 9/11 in the World Trade Center. The foundation has established mental health clinics in countries in upheaval, including Cambodia, Rwanda and Haiti – helping victims of rape and other forms of extreme violence. (Watch a video about the Aldermans here.)

“This presidential honor demonstrates the passion and the impact of these Purpose Prize winners,” said Alexandra Cespedes Kent, director of The Purpose Prize. “The White House chose Judith Broder and the Aldermans from 6,000 nominations. That says a lot.”

To learn about all of this year’s medal winners, read the White House¬†announcement.

And stay tuned to Encore.org to find out who will win the 2011 Purpose Prize.