Governor Granholm Honors Michigan Volunteers

Chawn Greene-Farmer         
Michigan Community Service Commission
Phone:  (517) 335-7875 or (734) 646-1515

Lansing , Michigan, June 19, 2009 - Governor Jennifer M. Granholm presented the Governor's Service Awards to individuals and organizations for their exemplary volunteer service at the 2009 Governor's Service Awards ceremony, An Evening with the Stars, held Thursday night at the Governor's Lansing Residence.

"Volunteers are the heroes of our state and help to create positive change during these challenging times when many of our fellow citizens could benefit from a helping hand," Granholm said.  "The Governor's Service Awards are just one small way to say ‘thank you' to i ndividuals who give of themselves to help make our state a better place to live, work, and grow. It is an honor to recognize them for their commitment to making a difference in the lives of others."

Three Men and a Tenor, one of the state's finest and funniest acts, joined the Governor and First Gentleman in honoring the nominees.  The Governor's Service Awards were made possible only through the generous contributions of corporate sponsors.  The 2009 major contributors include:  Delta Dental, Comcast, Blue Cross Blue Shield/Accident Fund, Ford Motor Company Fund, DTE Energy, EDS-an HP Company , Meijer, Acheson Ventures, Consumers Energy, the Council of Michigan Foundations, MASCO Corporation Foundation, Michigan Nonprofit Association, State Farm Insurance, and Oakwood Health System. 

In addition to the awards, Olivet College, a private liberal arts institution in south central Michigan, presented all five finalists for the Youth Volunteer of the Year with a Community Responsibility Scholarship valued at $6,000 per year renewable for four years.  This unique scholarship program is designed to reward students for responsibility, community service, civic engagement, and volunteerism.

The Governor's Service Awards recipients were selected from the finalists in each of the eight award categories.  Friends, relatives, and colleagues submitted nearly 120 nominations to pay tribute to individuals and organizations who exemplify the spirit of volunteer service.  An objective peer review panel and the board of the Michigan Community Service Commission, the organization that manages the event, selected the finalists and winners.

The Governor's Service Awards are presented annually to individuals, businesses, and organizations to acknowledge their commitment to solving community issues through volunteerism. Eight awards were presented in the following categories:

The Governor George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteerism, which is the most prestigious of the Governor's Service Awards, was presented to John Duley of Okemos.  The award honors an individual who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to community involvement and volunteer service.  John has made significant contributions to Capital-area communities since the 1960's.  While employed at Michigan State University (MSU) as a professor and campus minister, John was instrumental in the development and implementation of the Student Tutorial Education Project (STEP), a program that used MSU students and faculty at summer tutorial programs at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi.  In the 1970's he worked to incorporate service-learning into MSU's curriculum and helped create the National Society for Experiential Education-which led to the future creation of Campus Compact.  In the 1980's John founded the Greater-Lansing Housing Coalition , a community-wide organization dedicated to supporting quality and affordable housing.  And in the 1990's, he led an initiative to provide low-income residents with access to computers and the Internet, thus forming Closing the Digital Gap.  He is still involved in this effort today at age 88 and he consistently exceeds community expectations as he aims to encourage voluntary action in all citizens.

The Corporate Community Leader award was presented to Yeo and Yeo of Saginaw.   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. Yeo and Yeo of Saginaw, a certified public accounting and consulting firm, has made community service a top priority since 1965.  The company's culture is one of giving back to the community with time, talent, and resources.  The more than 200 employees housed in nine offices throughout Michigan serve on boards and volunteer for numerous civic, arts and humanities, community, and church organizations.  Some of the major projects and/or organizations engaged include: Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program instructors, Adopt a Family, area annual Blood Drives, Adopt a Garden, American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Walk, Leadership Kalamazoo, Habitat for Humanity, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Goodwill.  Yeo and Yeo employees have contributed more than 15,000 hours of community service during business hours, and, more than 13,000 hours have been contributed during employees' personal time.

The Mentor of the Year award was presented to Jonathan Crawford of Detroit .   This award honors an individual who has made a significant difference in a child's life over time through mentoring. Jonathan serves as a mentor for two young men, Austin and Raekwon, through the Wayne County 4-H Mentoring Program.  Jonathan communicates on an ongoing basis with his mentees and their parents to work on their emotional impairments and academics.  He often takes them to Oakland University basketball games, local events in the Detroit area, Wayne County 4-H Mentoring Program activities, and other opportunities.  Jonathan has found other ways to give back to the Detroit community as well, such as providing tutoring for the Academic Achievement Tutoring Service and Pro Literacy Detroit, mentoring through the Burns Seventh-Day Adventist Church Pathfinder Program, and assisting with area Boy and Girl Scouts.  At age 74, Jonathan has established a life long legacy of helping others and enjoys expanding the opportunities of young people.

The Outstanding Mentoring Program award was presented to the Michigan State University Extension Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring Program of West Olive.  This award honors a mentoring program for developing and maintaining high-quality experiences for both the mentor and mentee.  It recognizes a program that effectively utilizes the Mentor Michigan Quality Program Standards in all aspects of program delivery.  Michigan State University Extension Journey 4-H Youth Mentoring Program of West Olive has been focusing on positive youth development since its creation in 1992.  The program pairs Ottawa County youth exhibiting delinquent behavior with caring adult mentors in an effort to reduce criminal behavior.  Youth participate in the program voluntarily and are referred by probation officers, therapists, and other community agencies through Journey's partnership with the 20th Judicial Circuit Court, Juvenile Services Division.  The adult-youth matches spend at least 2 hours a week together in a variety of community activities.  And, matches are expected to continue for at least one year.  In 2008, 20 youth and 24 volunteers participated in the program.  Mentee court records document continued progress, demonstrating the program's effectiveness. Additionally, during the 2008 program year, 53 percent of mentored youth did not commit any delinquent offenses during their match and 74 percent of mentored youth decreased the frequency and severity of offenses during their match.

The Outstanding Volunteer Program award was presented to the South Oakland Shelter of Royal Oak.  This award acknowledges the importance an organization or club makes in community life.  The South Oakland Shelter of Royal Oak is a nonprofit organization that provides a rotating emergency shelter program for homeless men, women, and children.  It was created in 1985 by a group of seven churches located in southern Oakland County - services today are provided by 67 Christian and Jewish congregations.  South Oakland Shelter's ( SOS) mission is to break the cycle of homelessness by providing temporary shelter and supportive programs to help individuals and families live independently.  The shelter cares for approximately 30 homeless individuals each week and provides safe, supervised overnight accommodations, three meals each day, and daily transportation to jobs, school and appointments.  Volunteers are key to the success of SOS as each week requires 60 to 100 individuals to donate their time.  Some of their efforts include clerical work, cleaning, sorting, and computer assistance.  SOS cares for more than 300 homeless individuals annually, of which 25 percent are children.

The Senior Volunteer of the Year was presented to William (Bill) Yaeger of Ann Arbor .  This award honors a senior citizen who has taken action to make her or his community a better place to live.  Bill has spent the past 22 years as a Volunteer Counselor for the Michigan MMAP (Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program) and as a Catholic Services Tax Aide Volunteer. At age 85, he continues to lend much of his time to these efforts-often devoting 30-40 hours a week from May through November and 40-60 hours a week from November to December and February to mid-April.  Over those 22 years, it is estimated Bill has helped thousands of Michigan's citizens in a variety of ways:  assisting with Medicare plans and problems, applying for special low-income help programs, completing Medicaid applications, resolving medical bills, and completing yearly taxes.  His life-long volunteer efforts have also included working at St. Thomas Church in Ann Arbor, Veterans Administration Hospital, Knights of Columbus, and St. Vincent de Paul Society.  Bill believes everyone can benefit from volunteering and, he says, "People will miss the best part of their lives if they don't do volunteer work."

The Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Marianne Tanis of Wyoming.   This award honors an individual who strives to improve the lives of neighbors, friends, community, or congregation.  Marianne has devoted herself to prisoners housed in West Michigan correctional facilities since the 1980's.  Originally, Marianne provided worship services through the Crossroads Ministry Team, but upon further engaging the prisoners, she decided to create a program that would inspire them and their futures.  In 1999, Marianne created art programs at the West Shoreline Correctional and Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facilities.  She developed two distinct programs to meet the needs of the prison population:  a program teaching pencil drawing and a program teaching acrylic painting on canvas.  Since the program's initiation, more than 500 prisoners have had the opportunity to participate with more on waiting lists to join.  Marianne offers the art program to prisoners to help them discover problem solving through drawing and painting.

The Youth Volunteer of the Year award was presented to Marcus Brown of Coleman. This award honors individuals who are 21 or younger who have already begun making a significant difference in their community by volunteering. Marcus has devoted the past 13 years of his life to volunteering - and he's only 19!  Marcus entered the foster care system as a young child and was later adopted.  He is one of the original members of the Midland/Isabella Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative (MYOI) Youth Board, a youth collaborative whose members were previously or are currently in the foster care system.  The collaborative increases community awareness of the need for foster parents and mentors for teens, recruits and assists in training foster parents, and helps each other and fellow teens transition to adulthood.  Prior to his service efforts with MYOI, Marcus donated his time to his local soup kitchen and his local 4-H club, where he still volunteers today.  He also volunteers in classrooms at the elementary and high schools in Coleman where he shares his personal experiences and wealth of knowledge.  Marcus is currently attending Mid Michigan Community College.

Three other special awards were also presented.  Lauraine Hoenshield of Brighton received the Russell G. Mawby Award for Philanthropy for her outstanding service and Edward and Nancy Hanenburg of Grand Haven won the Community Foundation Award for Philanthropy.  The Carter Partnership Award was presented to Grand Valley State University - Westown Jubilee Housing.  This award inspires and rewards partnerships between colleges or universities and community groups that work together in exceptional ways to improve people's lives while helping students learn the value of service.