McAuliffe announces recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards

terry mcauliffeGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced Thursday the recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards during a special ceremony held at the Executive Mansion. These awards spotlight the outstanding efforts individual volunteers and organizations make on behalf of citizens throughout the Commonwealth.

“It is an honor and a privilege to announce this year’s Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award recipients,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.  “We should all strive to follow the examples set by these individuals, organizations, and companies and give back to our own communities, which helps to make Virginia such an extraordinary place to live and work.”

Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Margaret Ross Schultze congratulated this year’s winners saying, “The volunteer contributions made by these individuals and groups are remarkable. We are thrilled to be able to recognize their hours of service and celebrate the impact they are making in their local communities.”

“As we honor these nine outstanding award winners, we also recognize and thank the 2 million Virginians who volunteered in communities across the state last year,” added Gail P. Harris, Director of the Virginia Department of Social Services’ Office on Volunteerism and Community Services. “These volunteers add essential support to schools, food pantries, free clinics and much more. Their collective impact resulted in nearly 300 million hours of service that can be valued at almost $6 billion!”

The awards ceremony was organized by the Office on Volunteerism and Community Services, in partnership with the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism and the Virginia Service Foundation. These organizations are charged by the Governor with recognizing Virginians who have significantly contributed to the life and welfare of the Commonwealth and its citizens.


2017 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards

Outstanding Community Organization: GrandInvolve, Fairfax – The innovative GrandInvolve program partners older adults with Fairfax elementary school students to help them with different skills and talents. The volunteers come to the schools at least once a week for several hours, assisting with reading and math, material preparation, library services, mentoring and kindergarten readiness. After only three years, the program is already in six schools with 100 regular, dependable volunteers, with plans to expand to all 41 Title 1 schools in Fairfax County within the next 10 years.

Outstanding Faith-Based Organization: Mt. Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries, Chesterfield County – With more than 5,000 members and a volunteer force of more than 800, Mt. Gilead Full Gospel International Ministries is one of the fastest growing congregations in the Richmond area. Over the past two years, Mt. Gilead has worked to assist people experiencing hunger by providing nearly 140,000 meals through FeedMore and through the church’s mobile food cart, “the Net.”  Fighting homelessness is also a huge priority for Mt. Gilead. Throughout the year they partner with Virginia Supportive Housing to help provide permanent housing and supportive services for the homeless. Last year, a team of eight members volunteered more than 100 hours of service coordinating monthly sessions and providing meals and activities.

Outstanding Education Organization: Backpacks of Love Cumberland Elementary School Coordinators, Cumberland County – Backpacks of Love provides wholesome food to school children in the counties of Powhatan, Cumberland, and Buckingham so that they don’t go hungry over the weekend. Backpacks of Love’s highly engaged board members collect all donations, distribute food items to schools, and solicit community and corporate sponsors. At Cumberland elementary and middle schools, three volunteers — Carol Allen, Pat Parker and Arlene Robinson — faithfully pick up the food items and ensure that more than 250 food bags are delivered in a timely and discrete manner on the last day of each school week. To date, Backpacks of Love has delivered more than 40,000 backpacks (which equates to approximately 240,000 meals) to students in rural Virginia.

Outstanding Small Business: Pepicelli’s Pizza LLC, Ashland – Lisa and Tom Checkosky’s restaurant is not only the best place to go in town for a slice but also an outstanding example of giving back to the community. The list of organizations and causes supported by Pepicelli’s goes on and on – from the Hanover Humane Society to the Ashland Police Foundation. Pepicelli’s is dedicated to serving the needs of the community with financial contributions, donations of pizza at events, and by giving their time. The Checkosky’s have provided food and sponsorship for a nonprofit, assisting families with medically fragile children, hosted countless school spirit nights at their restaurant, and opened their doors to nonprofit groups to use their warming ovens for fundraisers.

Outstanding Corporation: SunTrust, Richmond – Among SunTrust’s corporate commitments is “employee volunteerism that helps to build and strengthen communities.” This commitment and culture of caring is evident among Richmond-based SunTrust employees.  More than 800 SunTrust teammates have volunteered for a host of organizations, contributing nearly 38,000 hours of service. Nearly 3,000 volunteer hours were spent delivering financial literacy information to students through Junior Achievement, a program where volunteers helped more than 6,000 K-12 students gain basic budgeting knowledge and foundational understanding for how local economies function. SunTrust volunteers have also helped to fully renovate a donated property in Fredericksburg for a deserving wounded warrior and volunteered at the Richmond Fisher House, and the McGuire Veterans Trauma Center, Operation Homefront at Fort Lee.

Outstanding Volunteer Family: The Stewart Family, McLean – Finding affordable dental care is a huge challenge and, too often, the result is that limited-income families suffer from poor dental health. The Stewart Family of McLean has made meeting this vital need a family mission by helping build and sustain a dental program that provides free services to adults and children who could not otherwise afford the care. Through the Arlington Free Clinic, George and Connie Stewart — and their children Julie, Joy, Jenny, and George — have volunteered their time, contributed their funds, shared their expertise, and provided immeasurable in-kind support through their family business to support this cause. In addition to the dental program, the family operates Doorstep Ministries, a nonprofit with the mission to financially help people with one-time monetary assistance for emergency expenses.

Outstanding Senior Volunteer: Wallace Green, Virginia Beach – When Wallace Green realized that the main causes for his kidney failure were a lack of knowledge, his choices in diet, and the type of medications prescribed — he became a one-man champion for the cause of prevention. Wallace coordinates, plans, and participates in health fairs; offers free presentations; and organizes fundraising events to promote preventative measures. If there is a health event in the community, you can be assured Wallace is there. Last year, he single-handedly provided health education to more than 7,000 veterans and other citizens. Last year he logged in more than 400 hours spreading his message and traveling more than 2,500 miles at his own expense.

Outstanding Adult Volunteer: Cydny Neville, Prince William County – Full-time teacher Cydny Neville serves a minimum of 20 hours per week organizing community outreach across Prince William County and Northern Virginia. She has also assisted more than 100 small business owners with professional development training and helped them secure business licenses by guiding them through their paperwork.  It is also because of her efforts that more than 1,000 youth have been able to celebrate their birthdays, thanks to her Annual Birthday Bag Drive.

Outstanding Youth Volunteer: Lawrence Jia, Midlothian – In Lawrence Jia’s freshman year at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School, he created “Money Matters to Students,” a financial literacy program which, today, has 100 volunteers across three continents and has reached more than 1,000 Virginia students. Lawrence has also taken his program internationally, partnering with Tsinghau University in Inner Mongolia where he has been able to teach personal finance to more than 800 students. Alongside his work in financial literacy, he is a nationally-ranked extemporaneous speaker, winner of multiple awards in the Model UN/Congress, founder/editor of the finance/news section of his school newspaper, and manages the finances of his church youth group.

The Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards are presented by the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism and Virginia Department of Social Services’ Office on Volunteerism and Community Service on behalf of the Office of the Governor. These awards have recognized exceptional volunteer service in Virginia for more than 20 years. Additional information about the program and full bios on this year’s recipients can be found online at