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Governor Snyder Honors Michigan Volunteers

GSA Finalists

Detroit – To honor exemplary volunteer service in Michigan, Gov. Rick Snyder presented the Governor’s Service Awards to individuals, organizations and a business at an awards ceremony Monday night. The 2014 Governor’s Service Awards, titled “An Evening with the Stars,” was held at the Gem Theatre in Detroit.

Five finalists from eight categories won 2014 Governor’s Service Awards to acknowledge their commitment to solving community issues through volunteerism. During the event, one winner from each category was selected.

“It’s an honor to celebrate these extraordinary volunteers and organizations and highlight their dedication to their communities,” Snyder said. “While we could only recognize 40 of them tonight, there are more than 2 million Michigan residents who donate their time and efforts to making Michigan a brighter place to live and work. Volunteering is rewarding for both the volunteer and those they serve – I encourage all Michiganders to get involved in some type of volunteer activity.”

Two special awards were also presented by the Council of Michigan Foundations. The Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy was awarded to David and Lynne Robinson of Grant. The Community Foundation Philanthropy Award was presented to Lawrence E. Moon of Flint.

Toppermost, a Beatles Tribute Band, joined the governor in honoring the nominees by performing for the audience. Also participating in the night’s festivities were the 2014 Governor’s Service Awards sponsors. The 2014 corporate sponsors include Ford Motor Company Fund as the presenting sponsor, as well as: James C. Acheson Foundation, Comcast, Comer Holdings, Consumers Energy, Council of Michigan Foundations, Delta Dental, DTE Energy Foundation, Greenstone Farm Credit Services, Jackson National, Lake Trust Credit Union, Lear Corporation, MASCO Corporation Foundation, Meijer, Michigan Nonprofit Association, Quicken Loans/Rock Ventures.

The Governor’s Service Awards are an annual event coordinated by the Michigan Community Service Commission, the state’s lead agency on volunteerism. This year’s honorees were selected from more than 160 nominations submitted by friends, relatives and colleagues to pay tribute to individuals, organizations and businesses who exemplify the spirit of volunteer service. An objective peer review panel and the board of the Michigan Community Service Commission selected the finalists and winners.

The 2014 Governor’s Service Awards were presented to:

The Governor George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteerism, which is the most prestigious of the Governor’s Service Awards, to Mary K Hoodhood of Grand Rapids. The award honors an individual who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to community involvement and volunteer service. Hoodhood has never let adversity stand in her way, especially when it comes to giving back to the community. An auto accident in 1980 left her using a wheelchair, but that accident put her on a path to volunteering, beginning as a volunteer for the Meals on Wheels program at God’s Kitchen in 1981. Hoodhood’s passion, however, is Kids’ Food Basket (KFB), which she founded in 2001 to combat childhood hunger. Originally created to provide an evening meal to 125 children at three Grand Rapids public schools, today KFB feeds 5,700 children at 32 schools in greater Grand Rapids and 600 kids at two Muskegon schools. KFB recently launched Kids’ Supper Club, a nationwide program that allows organizations to use the KFB model to attack childhood hunger in their communities. In addition to the thousands of hours Hoodhood has dedicated to KFB, she has volunteered many hours of time to community groups such as Indian Trails Camp, Kent County Juvenile Court, Kent County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Michigan Quality Community Care Council, Americans with Disabilities Act Advisory Committee and many more. In 2010, she received the Presidential Citizen’s Medal from President Barack Obama for her efforts with Kids’ Food Basket.

The Corporate Community Leader Award to American 1 Credit Union in Jackson. This award honors businesses that demonstrate excellent corporate citizenship by giving back to their community through corporate volunteer programs, monetary contributions, in-kind gifts, and employee-driven volunteer service. American 1 Credit Union in Jackson has been serving Michigan communities for 64 years, growing from serving hundreds in one county to serving more than 50,000 members in eight counties across southern Michigan. American 1 is not just a financial institution, it is passionate about giving back to its membership and the communities it serves through both financial contributions and employee volunteer efforts. In 2013, donations and sponsorships to the community totaled more than $100,000 between corporate donations and employee fundraising contributions. American 1 hosts 12 annual events for the public, with the income from booth fees and concessions going to local nonprofits. Employees get involved by organizing monthly fundraising events such as bake sales, dress down days, coin wars and more; in 2013 they raised $10,000. During the holidays, American 1 employees collect items and money to send to soldiers serving oversees and local families in the community to ensure everyone has a wonderful holiday. Employees also played Santa at gas stations, pumping free gas for customers. Aside from these programs, American 1 offers a scholarship program for high school seniors where credit union members donate $25 to the program to skip one month’s loan payment; in 2013, 15 $1,000 scholarships were awarded to local students.

The Mentor of the Year award to Don Gellish of Clarkston. This award honors an individual who has made a significant difference in a child’s life over time through mentoring. Gellish served as a devoted mentor to Steven from 2009 until Gellish’s death in February. Matched through the Mentors Plus Program of Oakland County Youth Assistance, Gellish and Steven regularly participated in many activities together including attending Mentors Plus group events, playing chess, visiting museums and science centers, swimming, rock climbing and watching sporting events such as Lions and Pistons games. Gellish dedicated more than 25 hours each month to helping Steven become a better person by serving as a liaison between Steven’s school and his grandmother, assisting him with homework and supporting him to get extra help at school when needed. Gellish built a desk for Steven to use for his homework, but more importantly, built Steven’s self-esteem and confidence by involving him in activities, community service projects and family gatherings. After Gellish’s passing, Steven wrote the following about his mentor, “I would like to take the time to say thank you for being there for me when I needed you most. I really appreciate everything that you’ve done for me and for being the best mentor ever.”

The Outstanding National Service Program Award to RSVP – Your Invitation to Volunteer of Kalamazoo. This award honors an extraordinary organization that provides a high-quality national service program which yields a significant impact in its community. RSVP – Your Invitation to Volunteer of Kalamazoo is a national service program that engages people ages 55 and older in volunteer service to not only meet community needs, but also enrich the lives of the volunteers. The program began as the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) in 1973 with volunteers serving non-profits, health care organizations, and schools -- a mission that continues today. In 2013, RSVP celebrated its 40th anniversary. The group helps give senior volunteers personal guidance, support and reassurance in finding just the right service opportunity while expanding an older adult’s support network for volunteer engagement. Last year, 458 volunteers donated 75,443 hours to 84 different entities at a value of $1.7 million worth of service. Volunteers donated time to Helping Hands Happy People, Peer Prevention Players, Volunteers 4 Seniors, Meals on Wheels, Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes, Kalamazoo Literacy Council, and more.

The Outstanding Volunteer Program Award to Forgotten Harvest Volunteer Program of Detroit. This award acknowledges the importance an organization or club makes in community life. The Forgotten Harvest Volunteer Program is one of the largest food rescue organizations in the nation. The program rescued more than 45 million pounds of nutritious food last year. The group saves food that would otherwise go to waste from 455 retail grocers, farms, wholesale distributors, entertainment venues and others. The group then re-packs and re-distributes the food to 260 emergency food providers, homeless shelters and soup kitchens. A total of 16,000 volunteers donated 92,434 hours in 2013. Forgotten Harvest serves more than 715,000 people living in poverty in Metro Detroit. Last year, volunteers harvested 850,000 pounds of vegetables on 103 acres of farmland in Fenton. Forgotten Harvest provided 134,369 sack lunches through its Summer School Feeding Program. The group also provides programs such as Holiday Meal Assembly, Food Pantry Assistance and other special events and activities.

The Senior Volunteer of the Year award to Harold “Bud” Irving of Escanaba. This award honors a senior citizen who has taken action to make her or his community a better place to live. Irving has a unique way of serving veterans in his Upper Peninsula community. For 25 years, his dogs have accompanied him as he serves as a registered volunteer driver for the Delta County Department of Human Services and the Upper Peninsula Health Plan, helping veterans travel to doctor appointments. His first dog, Chubbers, became part of Irving’s unique volunteer driving service with a touch of pet therapy. In addition to driving, Irving and Chubbers also spent long hours with patients recovering from chemotherapy or dialysis. Word spread and soon patients were requesting the “guy with the dog.” When Chubbers passed away, Irving trained Choppers so they could continue visiting patients for pet therapy visits. Irving has volunteered 14,263 hours for the Delta County DHS and logged more than 375,000 miles. In 2013, he contributed 534 hours and 1,037 miles. He and his dogs have served as many ailing veterans’ best friends during some of their toughest moments.

The Volunteer of the Year award to Gloria Mireles of Marshall. This award honors an individual who strives to improve the lives of neighbors, friends, community, or congregation. Mireles has experienced the fight to keep her own home. Now she is helping others stay off the streets. She labored as a migrant worker until ge 17 and had to overcome much adversity in her life, but that only strengthened her desire to help others. Through the Homeless Angels program, Mireles helped nine homeless people get off the streets and she continues to help the homeless with job search assistance, housing and rehabilitation. She serves as an inspiration to others, especially when it comes to her devotion to the American Red Cross. Since age 18, Mireles has given blood every 56 days and is nearing her ninth gallon in donations. She donated 500 hours to multiple organizations in 2013. She has been involved with local cultural festivals, Relay for Life, after-school programs, Hispanic soccer leagues and even helped organize an event to raise more than $7,500 for a comatose young man to help with medical expenses.

The Youth Volunteer of the Year award to Mike Funkhouser of Jackson.
This award honors individuals age 21 or younger who have already begun making a significant difference in their community by volunteering. Funkhouser, a senior at Jackson High School, made a very adult decision a year ago that changed his life. Originally focused solely on football and the chance to play at a Division 1 university, he decided after his junior year to quit football and focus on being a better person, not a better player. Since then he has served as the president of his school’s National Honor Society, started his own photography business, volunteered more than 100 hours to the local humane society and has spent more than 30 hours with the Youth Advisory Council at the Jackson Community Foundation. Funkhouser also founded a mentoring program at his high school that matches seniors with freshmen to help them adjust to high school. He also organized a leaf pickup drive for the city that raised $2,000 for the high school’s annual food drive. Perhaps his most compassionate act was when he befriended a special-needs student. When the school crowned Funkhouser Homecoming King, he gave his crown to Cody knowing that it was his wish to be king someday.

BACKGROUND
The Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC)
builds a culture of service by providing vision and resources to strengthen communities through volunteerism. In 2013-14, the MCSC is granting more than $7 million in federal funds to local communities for volunteer programs and activities. In its 23-year history, the MCSC has engaged more than one million people in volunteerism and service through its signature programs: Mentor Michigan, Michigan’s AmeriCorps, and Volunteer Michigan. The Governor’s Service Awards is also a premier program of the MCSC. The MCSC is housed in the Michigan Department of Human Services, whose mission is to improve the quality of life in Michigan by providing services to vulnerable children and adults that will strengthen the community and enable families and individuals to move toward independence.. The Corporation for National and Community Service grants the federal funding administered by the MCSC.

 

For additional information, please contact Jessi Adler at (517) 335-4295 or (517) 230-9923 or adlerj@michigan.gov.



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