Governor Snyder Announces Finalists for 2013 Governor's Service Awards

Governor Rick Snyder announced today the 40 finalists for the 2013 Governor's Service Awards. The finalists have been selected from more than 140 individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations from across the state who were nominated for their commitment to volunteer service.

"I recently kicked-off the Do Something, Michigan! initiative that encouraged Michiganders to take action in their communities through volunteerism,"  Snyder said. "The 40 finalists who will be recognized at the 2013 Governor's Service Awards are an extraordinary example of that Do Something! spirit. I thank them for their contribution to our state."

The finalists will be honored at an awards ceremony entitled, "An Evening with the Stars" on Tuesday, July 23, at the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. The 2013 Governor's Service Awards will be a theatre-style event highlighting award presentations and featuring performances by Michigan musical artists and performers, all paying tribute to the honorees.

The Governor's Service Awards are an annual statewide recognition event acknowledging the contributions made by Michigan volunteers. This celebration is made possible only through the generous contributions of its sponsors. To date those sponsors include: Amway, Comer Holdings, Ford Motor Company, Lear, and Meijer.

The event is coordinated by the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC), the state's lead agency on volunteerism. The MCSC strives to engage all Michigan citizens in volunteerism to address critical community challenges. It is part of the Michigan Department of Human Services.

For more information on this annual opportunity, visit

The 2013 award finalists are:

Governor George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award
This award, the most prestigious of the Governor's Service Awards, honors an individual who has taken his or her volunteer service to the highest level - year after year. It honors an individual, usually a senior citizen, who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to community involvement and volunteer service.  Individuals nominated in this category have made service a way of life for many, many years. The finalists are:

  • Norman (Norm) Ginebaugh of Grand Rapids had been volunteering in his community full-time since 1991. After retiring at a young age, Norm felt a calling to serve and over the past 21 years, gave his time to 22 different organizations, including the DeVos Children's Hospital cancer ward, the Lincoln School for handicapped children, and others. Until passing away earlier this year, Norm remained actively involved in the Kids Food Basket Program, St. John's Home, United Church Outreach Ministry, Salvation Army, and North Kent Services. Also a Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) national service member, Norm dedicated 200 hours of his time each month to his various volunteer activities, in addition to donating the use of his personal vehicle for food deliveries. In 2012, the monetary value of the services Norm supplied equated to more than $53,000. In the wake of his passing, the absence of Norm's caring, compassion, and selfless service has been felt by many of his long-time volunteer organizations.
  • Joseph (Joe) Madison of Saginaw has been a dedicated volunteer in his community since he relocated to Michigan 19 years ago. Since that time, Joe has continued to be a champion for the underserved populations in Saginaw County and has found many ways to give his time in support of them. This includes volunteering with the READ Association, Volunteers of America, Great Lakes Bay Youth Leadership Institute, Bridge Center for Racial Harmony, and many others. Joe has also served as the head of Spring Into Service (SIS) and Make a Difference Day (MADD) activities in Saginaw for the past 10 years. Under Joe's guidance and leadership, SIS and MADD has mobilized 3,000 students to clean up 87 senior residences, 14 veteran homes, 5 senior citizen facilities, 6 Emmaus House homes, 8 elementary schools, and 20 public parks. Joe is also a 12 year member of the Saginaw Community Foundation Board of Directors and founder of the Saginaw Township Community School's Reading Buddies program.
  • John Nash of Spring Lake has been volunteering for more than 50 years in his west Michigan community. As a lifelong volunteer, many organizations have benefitted from John's long-term commitment and service, including the American Red Cross, for which John has served as a volunteer instructor for 51years. In addition, John served as a volunteer coach for 40 years and spent 30 years as the organizer and advisor for the Kids for Kids campaign, a program which helped students raise money for youth charities. John's caring and compassion for this community also led him to create and chair the Spring Lake - Lake Board for the past 21 years. This board works to address environmental and community issues for residents living on Spring Lake. In addition to many other volunteer activities, John has also served as the Spring Lake Township Supervisor, organized Relay for Life teams, assisted Love, INC with donations and fundraising, and served as a Big Brother.  In total, John's commitment to helping others has led him to donate nearly 40,000 hours of service to his community.
  • Helen Shoff of Warren began volunteering in the 1970's as a lunch mother at her children's school. Over the years, Helen has continued to give back to the community in a number of capacities: teaching religious education classes and Children's Liturgy at church, providing administrative support to the American Cancer Society, and serving as a Senior Corps member through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. In 1993, Helen volunteered for the first time with the St. John Macomb Hospital and enjoyed it so much that she has continued to serve the hospital on a weekly basis for the past 20 years. As a St. John Macomb volunteer, Helen has provided the hospital with nearly 14,000 hours of service, acting primarily as a volunteer at the Webber Cancer Center information desk. At the front desk, Helen provides invaluable service by greeting patients, answering questions, and providing directions. In addition to this role, Helen has also supported the hospital by coordinating various fundraisers which have collectively raised nearly $250,000 in the past 13 years alone. 
  • Erica Wright of Detroit is a well-known and beloved humanitarian in Detroit's west-side. In 1976, she quit her job to found and operate the Westside Cultural & Athletic Club (W.C.A.C), a program which has been a pillar of the community and saving grace for the past four decades. Erica began W.C.A.C. as a way to reach out to young boys in the poverty-stricken and high-crime west-side neighborhood, and the program has continued to evolve and expand ever since. Today, Erica and the W.C.A.C. program engage more than 100 children, teens, and senior citizens each year in constructive ways, including athletics, educational sessions, and community service. She is assisted by an all-volunteer staff, many of whom were once program participants themselves. Annually, Erica volunteers thousands of hours to W.C.A.C., and has given her many personal and financial resources over the years to keep the program going. Since the inception of the program 35 years ago, Erica's volunteer service has impacted thousands of lives by providing the youth of her community with hope, support, love, guidance, and accountability. 

Corporate Community Leader Award
Corporations and businesses that excel in community involvement are honored with this award. This kind of commitment is made by all employees, both hourly and salaried, and can take many forms including, but not limited to, corporate volunteer programs, monetary contributions, in-kind gifts, and employee-driven volunteer service. The finalists are:

  • The Eaton Corporation in Galesburg is just one division of the global leader in electrical, hydraulic, and mechanical power management solutions. With more than 100,000 employees in 150 counties, the Eaton Corporation employs 450 people at its Vehicle Group, Truck Division location in Galesburg. Along with their corporate leaders, employees in the Vehicle Group, Truck Division are committed to making a positive, lasting difference in the communities where they work and live. Through their dedication, they helped to create the Bigs in Business program in 2004. This program, operated through the local Big Brothers, Big Sisters organization, has connected more than 70 local Kalamazoo area youth with mentors at the Eaton Galesburg office. Vehicle Group, Truck Division employees were also founding sponsors of the Kalamazoo Literacy Council's Scrabble Fest, Comstock Community Center's Ready, Set, Grow fundraiser, and the United Way of Southwest Michigan First's United for Change initiative which focuses on early-age education. In total, the Vehicle Group, Truck Division supports more than 100 community agencies each year through more than 10,000 hours of employee volunteer service and nearly $600,000 in employee donations and corporate contributions.
  • DENSO Manufacturing of Battle Creek is a global supplier of advanced automotive technology, systems, and components. For the past 12 years, DENSO employees have been a strong community partner and advocate for veterans at the Battle Creek Veterans Affairs Medical Center. In 2001, a group of DENSO employees were part of a founding group of volunteers who started a "Breakfast Club" in the Palliative Care Unit of the hospital. This club, which serves terminally ill veterans, provides patients and their families with a home-cooked breakfast one day a week. In addition to volunteering their time to the club one day each month, DENSO employees also purchase breakfast items as personal donation. Over the years, the 60 DENSO employees have grown even more committed to the program and have offered to pick up three additional days each month, now covering one breakfast each week for a total volunteer service of 1,600 hours. In addition to serving the Breakfast Club, employees also volunteer for area veterans by helping out with the Annual Day of Caring Event, Christmas Gift Distribution program, and by cleaning monuments at the Fort Custer Veterans Cemetery.
  • The General Motors Foundation in Detroit is the philanthropic arm of motor giant General Motors (GM). Founded in 1976, the GM Foundation has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to deserving U.S. charities, educational organizations, and disaster relief efforts since its inception. Though they have partner plants in 30 different countries, GM and the GM Foundation have kept a sharp focus on the revitalization of Michigan over the years, Detroit in particular. This focus resulted in GM awarding nearly $1 million to 88 Michigan youth for their college education through the Buick Achievers' program in 2012, as well as the distribution of $11.5 million to Michigan organizations through 228 grants. Among these grants was a continuation of the "Network of Excellence" grant that GM provided the United Way of Southeast Michigan in 2011. This grant, the largest grant ever received by the United Way, has allowed them to support an innovative turn-around in seven metro-Detroit high schools. Helping to support this school turnaround is the assistance of 153 GM employees who gave nearly 2,000 hours of service to Network of Excellence schools in 2012. In addition their service to the Detroit education system, GM employees have supported a number of other causes as well, with 3,653 employees giving nearly 40,000 hours of service last year alone.
  • The Grand Traverse Pie Company in Traverse City is a local restaurant founded in 1996 by owners Mike and Denise Busley. Over the years, the company has grown to include 15 stores across Michigan. In addition to supporting local farmers with their homemade pies, the Busleys' have used the Grand Traverse Pie (GTP) Company to benefit a number of child-welfare organizations. For the past 10 years, Denise has volunteered on the Michigan Youth Opportunity Initiative (MYOI) board, which supports youth aging out of foster care, and created the "Your Piece Counts" scholarship program for foster youth. In the past three years, this program has granted $20,000 to local youth. To help address other challenges faced by foster care youth, the Busleys' are also avid supporters of the Traverse Bay Children's Advocacy Center, which serves children who are victims of sexual or physical abuse. In addition to advocating for the center, the Busleys' have assisted in numerous fundraising efforts, helping to generate more than $200,000 and donating $35,000 themselves from GTP. Aside from programs that benefit youth, GTP and the Busleys' support many other organizations as well through the creation of the Grand Traverse Pie Community store, which donates all money from the sale of pie directly to charity.   
  • The Michigan Health and Hospital Association of Lansing supports a network of hospitals and patients across the state. Since its foundation in 1919, the Michigan Health and Hospital Association (MHA) has been advocating for the interests and rights of its members. To help support these members and their local communities, MHA participates in a number of initiatives to improve the health and wellbeing of Michigan residents.  These include their annual participation in the Michigan Harvest Gathering, where they provide more than $20,000 - $30,000 in financial contribution each year, donate in-kind support through printing and publicity services, and supply volunteer time from their employees and executive staff. Since joining the Michigan Harvest Gathering efforts in 1998, Michigan hospitals have contributed more than $1 million and more than 2.5 million pounds of food. MHA also actively supports Tomorrow's Child, a charitable organization focused on the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and has donated more than $20,000 to the program in the past two years. Aside from these contributions, MHA and their employees support a number of other programs, including the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Children's Trust Fund, and more, with the average employee giving 78 hours of their time annually. 

Mentor of the Year
Mentors change lives. They give of themselves personally to a child month after month, year after year. This award honors an individual who has made a significant difference in a child's life through mentoring. For the purpose of this award, mentoring is defined as a structured and trusting relationship that brings a young person together with a caring individual who offers guidance, support, and encouragement. As a result, the mentee experiences improvements in grades, behaviors, social interactions, etc. The finalists are:

  • Nicholas (Nic) Bottomley of Kentwood has been matched with his mentee Austin since 2007. As a social worker, Nic and Austin first met through a colleague at work and had an instant connection. With the help of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Grand Rapids, Nic and Austin quickly entered into a formal mentoring relationship and have been matched together ever since. Over their six year history, Nic and Austin have enjoyed many activities together, from sports to 4-H Mentoring Weekend, and concerts to volunteering. In addition, Nic ensures that Austin prepares for his future by helping him with his homework, encouraging him to talk to different adults about their education and career experiences, and more. The relationship between the two has been so positive and beneficial, that when Austin was baptized a few years ago, Austin's parents asked Nic and his wife Lisa to become Austin's godparents. "Nic isn't just a friend to me," said Austin, "He's family and that's more than anyone could ask for."
  • Jonathan (Jon) Jepson of Grand Blanc met his Little Brother Trevor in 2010 when his place of employment hosted a television program about unmatched mentees. After interacting with Trevor and learning how he had been waiting for a mentor for four years, Jon inquired with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint about becoming matched with Trevor. Since that time, Jon and Trevor have spent 6-8 hours together each month, eating meals, playing sports, and more. Jon makes time to attend many of Trevor's sporting events and has even helped to introduce Trevor to new activities such as lacrosse, which he greatly enjoys. As a result of Jon's influence and attention, Trevor has improved his grades and his attitude and recently became a mentor himself to other students in his school. The affirmative change in Trevor has been noticed most prominently by his mother who said: "I have never seen one [volunteer] have such a positive impact on my child as Jon has."
  • David Walker of Bloomfield Hills knows first-hand the difference a mentor can have in the life of a child. As a young person, he himself had a mentor and this influence is one of the primary reasons he became a mentor with the Birmingham Mentors Plus Program of Oakland County Youth Assistance in 1997. Since that time, David has been matched with six young men, many of which have been multi-year mentoring relationships. Before connecting with his current match in December of 2012, David had been matched with his previous mentee for seven years. This young man is now an excellent student, competent athlete, and civically-engaged in his community. This is in part due to the careful guidance and attention provided by David, who makes sure to engage his mentees in fun events, volunteerism, and daily household activities to help them become well-rounded adult men. In his 15 years as a mentor, David has served more than 2,000 hours. "I think it takes a very special person to do this," said a former mentee's mother. "He [David] is taking time away from his own life to devote to kids and make a difference."
  • Jacqueline (Jackie) Weed of Harper Woods has been matched with her mentee Tashira through VIP Mentoring for four years. Since beginning their relationship, Jackie and Tashira have spent more than 300 hours together and Jackie hopes the relationship will last until Tashira is age 18 or beyond. Together, the two women enjoy spending time together by doing activities such as visiting a farm or seeing a musical. The ongoing time and commitment provided to Tashira by Jackie has been extremely beneficial to Tashira, who has just completed the Lear Automotive Youth Academy and is at the top of her high school class. In addition to being there for Tashira as a friend and confidant, Jackie has also supported Tashira in other ways as well, most recently helping to secure orthodontic care that Tashira needed. "She is wonderful," commented Tashira's mother, "Tashira could not have gotten a better mentor."
  • Jennifer Zanoni of Mount Pleasant has been matched with her mentee for a year and half through the Isabella/Midland County Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative (MYOI). The MYOI program supports youth in foster care and like all young people in the program, Jennifer's mentee is a young lady in foster care. As such, the match has experienced many unique challenges, including multiple foster care placements, pending adoptions, and even heart surgery. Despite these obstacles, Jennifer has remained committed to her mentee, helping her through these life-changing events, as well as the normal teenage trials of college campus visits, cheerleading tryouts, choir concerts, and more. In addition to her dedication to her own mentee, Jennifer caringly embraces all the youth in the MYOI Helping Others Prepare for Everything (H.O.P.E.) Mentoring Program. She regularly attends their bi-monthly youth board meetings to provide loyalty and companionship to other youth in the program as well and the youth show excitement and appreciation for Jennifer's earnest attention. 

Outstanding National Service Program Award
National service programs commit themselves to making a difference in the communities they serve. These include programs such as AmeriCorps*State, AmeriCorps*VISTA, AmeriCorps*National, Senior Companions, Foster Grandparents, and RSVP. This award honors an extraordinary program or organization that provides a high-quality national service program that yields a significant impact on their Michigan community. The finalists are:

  • The AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program in Detroit is a unique partnership between Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies and several Detroit area organizations who are collectively working together to increase public safety in the Midtown community. To accomplish this, the program relies on the service of 16 full-time AmeriCorps members to increase neighborhood guardianship, reduce victim attractiveness and susceptibility, and increase education, awareness, and communication around public safety issues. Since the program's creation in 2010, AmeriCorps members in the program have successfully created 133 neighborhood block clubs, cleaned and boarded up more than 160 vacant and abandoned properties, and installed countless safety enhancements in local homes. They have recruited more than 750 volunteers in their efforts, and together with the community, the AmeriCorps Urban Safety Program has seen a 42 percent reduction in crime in the targeted area.
  • Cherry Street Health Services - Community HealthCorps Navigators AmeriCorps*National of Grand Rapids services the underserved and underinsured populations of Kent and Montcalm Counties. The two Cherry Street Health Clinics in Grand Rapids and Greenville provide medical, dental, optical, social work, and health counseling services to their patients. In order to help these patients better utilize their healthcare system, Cherry Street enlists the help of 33 full-time AmeriCorps*National members who help patients overcome barriers to services, which include transportation, lack of funds to afford chronic illness medication, and poor English-speaking skills. Members provide support to thousands of patients each year by acting as interpreters, patient navigators, patient assistance program case managers, Medicaid case managers, outreach specialists, health educators, and outreach case managers. In the last program year alone, Community HealthCorps Navigators provided nearly 50,000 healthcare encounters.
  • FoodCorps Michigan of East Lansing is a multi-site chapter of the AmeriCorps*National program, FoodCorps. Across the state, FoodCorps Michigan has six AmeriCorps members serving at Flint, Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Traverse City school sites to help youth and their schools create a lasting healthy relationship with food. To do this, FoodCorps members deliver hands-on nutrition education to help students increase their knowledge about healthy food, connect students with where their food comes from by building school gardens, and provide cafeterias with fresh, local foods by bringing local farmers together with school food services. The FoodCorps Michigan program strives to build this future generation of healthy Americans primarily in communities of high-need, as most of its service sites are at least 50 percent free and reduced lunch. In its two years of service in the state, FoodCorps Michigan has provided more than 10,600 students with nutrition education, built or revitalized 27 school and community gardens, and brought 45 new farmers and distributors into the farm-to-school conversation.
  • The Region IV Area Agency on Aging's Senior Volunteer Programs in St. Joseph is comprised of two national service programs: Foster Grandparents (FGP) and Senior Companions. These programs service the three county region of Berrien, Cass, and Van Buren Counties in southwest Michigan by providing special needs youth support to be academically and socially successful and frail and elderly seniors with companionship, transportation, and respite care. Region IV's senior volunteer programs began in 1978 with the FGP program and grew to include the Senior Companion program in 2000. Today, the two programs collectively have 130 senior volunteers who donate 20-40 hours each week, providing a total of more than 100,000 hours of service in 2012 alone. This service provided tutoring and mentoring support to more than 1,500 students in local schools, Head-Start programs, and Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as provided in-home support that benefitted 154 home-bound seniors and 84 caregivers.
  • RSVP-Your Invitation to Volunteer of Kalamazoo is a national service program that engages people age 55 and older in volunteer service to not only meet community needs, but to enrich the lives of volunteers in Kalamazoo County. The program was started as the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in 1973 with volunteers serving nonprofits, healthcare organizations, and schools, a mission that current volunteers continue today. In the last year, 476 Senior Services, Inc. RSVP volunteers donated nearly 77,000 hours of service to 78 nonprofits and other service sites, equating to a service value of more than $1.6 million. Activities of the volunteers include serving as data entry clerks, senior and/or animal advocates, craft instructors, adult literacy tutors, security advisors, museum docents, phone screeners, home improvement handymen, thrift shop clerks, trail guides, and much more.  

Outstanding Volunteer Program Award
The extraordinary work volunteers accomplish in communities is often driven by an organization or club. This award acknowledges the importance this support can make in community life. The nominees in this category strive to make communities better places to live through a variety of activities or by focusing on one issue of primary importance in their community. Schools, faith-based organizations, national service programs, nonprofit organizations, and service clubs are potential nominees. The finalists are:

  • Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries - Volunteer Program serves more than 1,700 individuals a day as they strive to meet the needs of the city's homeless population. With limited staff and resources, Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries (DRMM) relies on the support of more than 11,000 dedicated volunteers. Since 1909, DRMM has been utilizing these volunteers in a variety of ways as volunteers give a collective 40,000 hours each year. In 2012, DRMM added a new component to their Volunteer Services program: outreach. Joining with City of Detroit, Detroit Public Schools, Detroit Media Partnership, and local author Mitch Albom, DRMM spearheaded the unique volunteer initiative 100 Houses. The initiative sought to board- and clean-up vacant and abandoned properties in the city of Detroit with the hopes of providing safer, more secure neighborhoods. Over the course of two events last fall, 100 Houses and the DRMM Volunteer Program recruited more than 1,100 volunteers and succeeded in boarding up nearly 300 houses while cleaning 90 blocks of Detroit neighborhoods.
  • Forgotten Harvest Volunteer Program of Oak Park is the backbone of the nation's largest fresh food rescue organization. Each year, Forgotten Harvest rescues nearly 44 million pounds of food from 450 partnering agencies and then re-packs and re-distributes the food to 260 emergency food providers, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and more. This monumental feat would not be possible without the help and assistance of the organization's volunteers, of which they had more than 16,000 in 2012. These volunteers assist in a number of ways, including repacking 70,000 pounds of bulk food daily, harvesting fruits and vegetables on nearly 100 acres of Forgotten Harvest farmland, and packing and distributing more than 80,000 sack lunches and snacks for youth in the Summer School Feeding Program. In 2012, Forgotten Harvest volunteers gave a total of 54,000 volunteer hours.
  • Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is an independent, citizen-led, nonprofit enterprise that works to protect, enhance, and expand the city's parks and public spaces. Founded in 2008, Friends of Grand Rapids Parks (FGRP) works closely with but separately from the City of Grand Rapids to identify specific park projects, mobilize people, and generate resources for improvement projects. Since its creation, FGRP has grown its volunteer base from 800 to more than 6,200 and these volunteers have been the driving factor behind the completion of 12,000 volunteer projects in 40 different city parks. These volunteer projects include the planting of 350 trees, building and repair of playgrounds, resurfacing of basketball and tennis courts, removal of invasive species, building of two new outdoor fitness centers, creation of an ice rink, and organizing of a winter festival. FGRP volunteers were also instrumental in raising more than $175,000 to open two local pools for public use.
  • Lake Superior Hospice Volunteer Program of Marquette started as an all-volunteer organization in 1979. Since that time, Lake Superior Hospice (LSH) has maintained a strong volunteer program with more than 70 volunteers giving their time each year. These volunteers provide a variety of services to help meet the needs of individuals and their families who suffer from terminal or serious illnesses. LSH volunteers provide respite, friendly visits, music, pet or art therapy, legacy documentation, veteran-to-veteran visitation, and so much more. In addition to being a comfort and assistance to patients in hospice, the service of LSH volunteers is also greatly appreciated by the friends and families of the hospice patients, many of whom are full-time caregivers. In 2012, LSH volunteers provided more than 2,000 hours of support and helped care for more than 150 patients and their families.
  • Midland Center for the Arts' Volunteer Program has been supporting the unique art center for the past 40 years. With more than 100,000 visitors annually, the Midland Center for the Arts (MCFTA) has two performance venues, two museums, art studios, lecture halls, numerous historic buildings, and more. Despite its large campus and attendance record, the MCFTA is a nonprofit organization and as such, relies heavily on its base of 750 volunteers to undertake a number of tasks. From performing administrative tasks, serving on boards, creating theatre productions, acting as museum docents, greeters, ushers, fundraisers, tour guides, classroom assistants, hospitality workers, and more, MCFTA volunteers play a critical role in the operation of the center. In the last fiscal year, MCFTA volunteers gave a total of 40,910 hours, a service which helped the center to serve 35,708 museum visitors, execute 99 life performances, and bring the arts to 780 youth enrolled in summer art, science, and history camps.

Senior Volunteer of the Year
Seniors have a wealth of experience to share with their community. That is why an older adult who is taking action to make his or her community a better place is honored with this award. Nominees in this category are ages 65 or older. They may be involved with many activities or given significant time to one particular cause. The finalists are:

  • Mary Amelia Yvonne Clark (Yvonne), of Negaunee, began volunteering with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in 1994 and since then has logged nearly 9,000 hours of service. Beyond her commitment to the RSVP program, Yvonne is a dedicated volunteer for several other initiatives in her community. These include the senior-based crime prevention program TRIAD, for which Yvonne helps to organize the annual "National Night Out" events; the Alzheimer and Autism wanderer recovery program Marquette County Life Tracker, through which Yvonne has saved three lives; and the Marquette County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), through which Yvonne trains in emergency rescue and survival skills to assist in times of need. Yvonne is also a lifelong volunteer for the American Red Cross and currently serves on their Disaster Assistance Team helping fire victims to find shelter, food, clothing, and more. Yvonne remains committed to volunteering because she believes by helping others, you help yourself. 
  • Ina Martin, of Lansing, was a member of the first Potter Park Zoo docent training in 1988 and has been a committed volunteer educator ever since. In her 25 years of service to the zoo, Ina has become a fixture at Potter Park, earning the name "Queen Docent" or "Mother Hen" and serving hundreds of thousands of visitors. She has also been instrumental in helping to create several new initiatives including the "Meet the Bus" program for schools and aiding in the coordination of senior care facility visits to the annual "Wonderland of Lights" event. In addition to serving as a docent, where she has provided nearly 4,000 hours of volunteer service since 2000, Ina also serves as the Docent Class Coordinator for Potter Park. As the coordinator, Ina volunteers an additional 120-150 hours each year helping to recruit, interview, and train more than 550 new docents for the zoo. Outside her commitment to Potter Park, Ina is also a regular volunteer at her church and provides in-home services to several elderly neighbors.
  • Merlin Petzold of Grand Rapids has been using his engineering skills to help those in need since his retirement in 1988. At that time, Merlin developed an adaptive "sip/puff" mechanism that enabled his wife, who suffered from multiple sclerosis, to operate the TV, phone, radio, and other devices hands-free. His device was much cheaper than alternative options and allowed his beloved wife to regain some of her independence and freedom. After seeing how it changed her life, Merlin decided to share his creation with others who could not afford the more expensive versions of the equipment. In 1992, he founded the nonprofit Envirotrol which relies on the volunteer service of caring individuals to create the adaptive products at no-cost. The products are then donated free of charge to quadriplegics and those with voice-related disabilities. Merlin estimates he has spent more than 30,000 hours on the cause since 1988 and provided help to thousands of people in need.
  • Lawrence (Larry) Prososki of Sterling Heights has been serving fellow veterans since 1987. After spending time himself in a VA hospital, Larry witnessed first-hand the work done by volunteers and decided to give back in the same way. He first began volunteering at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit before expanding his volunteer services to include the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and the Battle Creek VA Medical Center. At each of these facilities, Larry spends time planning special events and outings for veteran residents, enabling them to engage with the world outside the hospital. With a growing number of female veterans entering the facilities, Larry has taken special care to consider the interests of women when planning the trips, a gesture that has been recognized and applauded by the patients. In his 23 years at the Battle Creek hospital alone, Larry has provided more than 14,000 hours of volunteer time and been honored with six Rose Awards for his service.
  • Fritz Schafer of Ann Arbor has a unique skill that he voluntarily provides to hospice patients and their families: photography. As an award-winning photographer, Fritz decided to volunteer his gift to the community and approached the Hospice of Michigan Volunteer Coordinator in 2004 about taking photos of hospice patients and their families free of charge. Together they implemented a program where patients could request a photographer to come to their home or facility to take photos and then receive a free framed and edited copy of the pictures. In 2007, Fritz relocated to the Ann Arbor community and began volunteering with the Arbor Hospice program, helping them to create a similar program called Treasured Memories. This program produces more than 20 photos for hospice families each year, and until just recently receiving a grant, Fritz covered the complete costs of the photograph printing and framing himself. In his five years with Arbor Hospice, Fritz has accumulated more than 335 volunteer hours and nearly 1,700 volunteer miles.  

Volunteer of the Year
When it comes to solving community problems, individuals really make things happen. These everyday citizens are very special people who go the extra mile for their community. This award is reserved for an individual who strives to improve the lives of neighbors, friends, community, or congregation.  Individuals nominated for this award could be adults, national service members, educators, and more. The finalists are:

  • Helen Buccella-Costa of Ann Arbor has been volunteering with Arbor Hospice since 2009. Originally providing comfort to patients as a member of the Threshold Choir and later as a By Your Side volunteer, Helen found a new volunteering passion in 2011 when Arbor Hospice acquired a therapy dog, Alpine. With a seven-county service area, Alpine has many visit requests across the region and Helen quickly stepped up to become Alpine's scheduler and manager. She coordinates Alpine's visits to different facilities and patient homes and trains staff and volunteers on how to properly handle the dog. In addition, Helen frequently takes Alpine on her visits and has amassed nearly 900 volunteer hours and 9,500 miles in her service with Alpine. Aside from her direct service in relation to Alpine, Helen has also helped to secure donations of veterinary attention, food, and toys for Alpine and even created a Facebook page for the canine so patients can stay connected with the beloved dog between visits.
  • Barbara Grasso of Woodhaven is the founder and executive director of the organization Operation Afghan Iraq PAC/ Americans Thank Our Troops. After learning of a co-worker's son who was serving with the Marine Corps in Iraq in 2004, Barbara banded together a fellow group of Ford Motor Company workers and began collecting food, comfort, and toiletry items to send to the young man. Her compassion and dedication to supporting military men and women didn't end there: over the past nine years, Barbara has expanded her care package program to include soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines from all parts of the country. Growing from just a small group of friends to an organization with more than 400 individual and group volunteers, Barbara's Operation Afghan Iraq PAC/ Americans Thank Our Troops organization has raised more than $55,000 for deployed military units and sent nearly 1,200 care packages weighing 40 pounds each. This monumental contribution would not be possible without the selfless and determined service of Barbara, who ensures thousands of military men and women overseas know they are remembered and cared for.
  • Harold Harris of Redford can be found in a Detroit Public School (DPS) building just about any day of the week. Despite working two daily shifts as a bus driver, Harold spends every spare minute he has volunteering with DPS: setting up the stage for ceremonies, performing sound checks for school plays, building a school garden, or most frequently, taking photos and video footage at school events. In addition to his daily volunteer activities with the school, Harold is also an active member of the DPS Dad's Club, which encourages fathers to get more involved with their kid's school, and has served as president of the Local School and Community Organization at both Gompers Elementary-Middle School and Ludington Magnet Middle School. Harold is also the founder of the Reading Dad's Club at Gompers Elementary-Middle School and organizes two annual events where fathers, uncles, brothers, and other male family members read to students in the school. Aside from his DPS school volunteerism, Harold also gives his time to his church's Media Ministry program and to the Forgiven Ministry's One Day With God Camp, which connects children of prisoners with their incarcerated parents.
  • Wendy Hewett of Muir first started volunteering with the Twin Rivers Elementary School Family School Organization (FSO) in 2008. Since then, she has continued to take on an increasing number of volunteer roles and responsibilities in an effort to improve the local elementary and the Ionia School District as a whole. For the past two years, Wendy has served as FSO President and has used the position to elevate the program's effectiveness by improving school fundraisers, revitalizing existing programs, and creating new ones. In addition, Wendy has become the school's primary grant writer, securing more than $20,000 to support school field trips, new musical instruments, and iPads. Wendy also helped to obtain nearly $10,000 in grants for "Project Refresh," a massive school building makeover in 2012. In addition to raising the funds, Wendy also organized a community volunteer project in which local community members gave their time to assist in the school revamp.
  • Loren Smith of Sault Ste. Marie began serving as the Volunteer Transportation Coordinator with the Chippewa/Luce/Mackinac County Department of Human Services (DHS) office in 2001. Since that time, Loren has continued to serve 20 hours per week in the DHS office and has become a valuable and indispensable member of the DHS staff, despite his volunteer status. His primary role is to arrange for transportation of DHS clients to obtain medical services, reunite children and parents, attend child visitation or placement events, and other special requests of the DHS staff. In addition to arranging the transportation services and coordinating a team of 20 volunteer drivers to make the routes, Loren also volunteers as a driver himself. In his time with DHS, Loren has volunteered a total of 11,680 hours and given more than $254,000 of in-kind services. Outside of DHS, Loren also fundraises for Mystic Lake Summer Camp and volunteers to provide Christmas presents to needy families, collect back-to-school supplies for low-income and foster care youth, and act as a chaperone for Big Brothers Big Sisters events.

Youth Volunteer of the Year
Volunteer service that begins at an early age is often carried forward throughout life. That is why a young person who is taking action to make his or her community a better place is honored with this award. Nominees in this category are ages 21 and younger. They may be involved with many activities or give significant time to one particular cause. The finalists are:

  • Ashi Arora of Novi has been volunteering in her community since the sixth grade. Now a sophomore at Novi High School, Ashi remains committed to serving others. She has given more than 400 hours of her time at St. Leo's soup kitchen helping the homeless, serving as an early literacy volunteer at local elementary schools, providing books to students in both the U.S. and India, and more. Knowing that many of the projects and programs that she volunteered for were also in need of monetary donations, Ashi took it upon herself to host a variety of fundraising efforts: making and selling scarves; organizing a fruit basket fundraiser; and collecting coins. Ashi's generous commitment to volunteer fundraising has helped to raise nearly $2,500 for causes such as the Wayne County Homeless Shelter, Red Wagon Early Literacy Project, and Coins to Change, an organization that builds schools for HIV/AIDS orphans in Uganda. 
  • Paige Daniel of Waterford began volunteering at the age of eight with Gleaners Community Food Bank. Now a seventeen year old, Paige has continued to serve her community by combining her love of volunteering with her love of American history. Over the years Paige has volunteered her time to read names at the Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Service, to organize a community prayer vigil for missing Oakland County soldiers, to lay wreaths on the graves of local veterans, and to collect cans as a fundraiser to send Michigan World War II (WWII) veterans to see the WWII memorial in Washington, D.C. In addition to these activities, Paige served as the 2010 president of the Michigan Society of the Children of the American Revolution. Paige used her position in this role to convince the Historic Waterford Village to add a hands-on children's room to their new construction site and raised more than $3,000 to support the addition.
  • Evan Kennard of Vassar is a junior at Vassar High School who loves to give back to his community. Whether it is singing at his church, volunteering as a camp counselor, or organizing Relay for Life activities, Evan can be counted on to lend a hand. Volunteering for the first time as a Little League umpire in middle school, Evan began volunteering more frequently the older he got. At age 14, he stepped up to become a team captain for Saginaw Valley State University's Relay for Life. Since that time, Evan has continued to lead a team each year, helping to generate more than $150,000 for the cause. In addition to his commitment to the American Cancer Society, Evan has also volunteered his time building homes in northern Indiana through the REACH Mission Camp and as a youth camp counselor at Bay Shore Camp. Across all of his volunteer projects, Evan has donated more than 1,000 hours of his time and service.
  • Kimberly (Kim) Klieber of Westland is a college sophomore at Lawrence Technological University and an avid volunteer. Her volunteering career began in 2006 when Kim created the Environmental Protection and Information Club (EPIC) at her high school to help cultivate a wildlife habitat on the school grounds. In addition to her service and leadership to EPIC, Kim also volunteered her time to school blood drives, soup kitchens, Meals on Wheels, and a variety of other community projects. Years later as a college student, Kim remains committed to serving others. Previously serving as a Michigan Service Scholar AmeriCorps member, Kim also volunteers her time as first-year student mentor at her university and as service provider to special needs children at Friendship Circle. In addition to the fundraising efforts Kim leads for the Arthritis Walk, Children's Miracle Network and other local charities, Kim is also the president of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the Chi Rho Chapter of the Order of Omega Greek Honor Society.
  • Travis McClendon of Detroit is a 15-year old sophomore at Loyola High School with a passion for service. Born with no forearms as a result of a birth defect, Travis has not let his disability stop him; he has been volunteering since the age of eight. Now a high school student, Travis has taken his dedication to serving others above and beyond, particularly in the area of veterans and the homeless. In the past year, Travis volunteered more than 125 hours of service in a variety of ways: initiating a pillow case drive for military members; making cookies and sandwiches for the homeless; repairing homes for natives at Pine Ridge Reservation; writing letters to veterans; planting a community garden in honor of military families; volunteering at a soup kitchen; and more.  His kind and generous attitude have earned Travis the respect and admiration of his peers, teachers, and acquaintances alike, all of whom see him as a kind and generous leader in his high school community.  

For more information on the 2013 Governor's Service Awards, visit