McAuliffe announces recipients of 2016 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards
These awards spotlight the outstanding efforts individual and organization volunteers make on behalf of citizens throughout the Commonwealth.
“I am proud and honored to celebrate Virginia’s outstanding volunteers who have made such enormous contributions to those in need throughout the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “These individuals, organizations and companies set an example for us all to give back to our communities and embody the spirit of service which makes Virginia a special place to live and work.”
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 saluting Virginians who have significantly contributed to the life and welfare of the Commonwealth and its citizens.
“I congratulate all of the award recipients for the selfless work they do on behalf of Virginia’s citizens,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Margaret Schultze. “Individuals, who give unto others through service, deliver critical services to those in need, which measurably strengthens our entire Commonwealth.”
Gail P. Harris, Director of the Virginia Department of Social Services’ Office on Volunteerism and Community Service added, “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. Adding essential support to schools, food pantries, disaster recovery and much more, their collective impact resulted in more than 300 million hours of service that can be valued at almost $8 billion.”
Winners of the 2016 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards are:
Adult Volunteer: Walter Hussey (Fluvanna County)
Walter’s passion and excitement for nature led him to plan, map out and implement the 70-acre Meadow Management Program space at Pleasant Grove Park in Fluvanna County. He was instrumental in developing partnerships with six state agencies and a long list of other organizations to get the project off the ground. Collaborating with state agencies enabled Walter to obtain grants for the project, as well as assist in implementing an Earth Day event centered around nature education. He took a public park, with nothing but abandoned hayfields and nothing to offer residents or visitors, and turned it into something special – a place for residents and visitors to enjoy and a haven for native wildlife.
Community Organization: Change the World RVA (Richmond)
Change the World RVA is the only organization in Central Virginia specifically addressing the needs of high school and college students who face homelessness. An all-volunteer organization, Change the World saw an overwhelming need in the community – with nearly 1,800 homeless students in Richmond Public Schools alone. Teams of caring adults provide help to these students with housing, school supplies, transportation, positive encouragement, and more. These adults and young people have become a strong family unit, supporting one another, having fun together, and planning their lives together. Students receive assistance beyond high school into their college careers – a time when they need stability and support even more.
Corporation: Genworth Financial (Richmond and Lynchburg)
Genworth Financial’s employee volunteer efforts are the backbone of their commitment to local communities. In 2015, Genworth employees volunteered a total of more than 22,000 hours globally—and more than 17,000 of those hours were with non-profit organizations in the Richmond and Lynchburg communities. To encourage employees to support the causes they care about most, Genworth Financial offers paid time off for volunteer events, as well as volunteer rewards accounts that match employee volunteer hours with money that can be designated to a non-profit organization of the employees’ choice. While Genworth Financial employees volunteer year-round, their best example of employees’ spirit of volunteerism is their annual Month of Service, which takes place each June. For 30 days, Genworth Financial employees around the world band together to make a positive impact on their local communities through volunteerism. In 2015, Genworth Financial employees participated in more than 300 volunteer projects benefitting more than 150 organizations around the world.
Small Business: Virginia Cancer Specialists of Arlington (Arlington)
In Arlington, when low income uninsured patients need cancer care, they have a wonderful option: Virginia Cancer Specialists of Arlington (VCS). Without VCS, these patients would likely not receive the cancer treatment they need, which can often cost more than $50,000 a month. However, VCS’s patient care philosophy is that health care for all community members is a human right and that, as members of the community, VCS is responsible for helping anyone in need, regardless of that person’s ability to pay. VCS accepts and treats all the cancer patients referred to them by the Arlington Free Clinic and they have provided pro bono care to 160 cancer patients with the cost of many patients’ care exceeding several hundred thousands of dollars. VCS’ patient care philosophy is that health care for all community members is a human right and that, as members of the community, VCS truly values all people in their community and has been a lifesaver for hundreds of people who have nowhere else to turn.
Educational Institution: Goochland County Public Schools (Goochland)
For the past three years, the concept of “engagement in the schools” has become ingrained as a recurring theme in Goochland County Public Schools. With daily engagement practiced throughout the schools, students are developing a lifelong commitment to community service with the added benefit of increased achievement in their academic life. More than 2,500 Goochland students are regularly serving in a variety of organizations and projects. The students also collect food donations through a remarkable “waste-free” lunch program in which non-perishable items not consumed during lunch are donated to the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services food pantry. The schools have also implemented a Brown Bag program which recently fed 187 students on weekends and provided some students with Food Lion gift cards over school breaks ensuring they wouldn’t be hungry while out of school. From collecting clothing items and more than 25,000 pounds of food for Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services (GFCFS) to volunteering at clothing sites, food banks, and election polling locations – students are learning firsthand what it means to care about their community.
Faith-Based Volunteer Service: Virginia Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (Arlington)
Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE) is a truly unique non-partisan organization of nearly 50 faith congregations and institutions of higher education in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William. Driven by ordinary people who care about improving their communities, VOICE’s structure and methods ensure that its actions reflect the interests of a broad and diverse group of community members. The organization works to train community members in person-to-person organizing aimed at equipping them to effect change on critical issues such as affordable housing, access to health care, education, and immigration. Last year alone, VOICE trained 235 people who went on to leverage more than 100 volunteers in the community.
Family Volunteer Service: The Potts Family (Goochland)
At nearly 80 years old, Dr. Meta and Mr. Earl Potts not only volunteer more than 520 hours a year in the Goochland community, but they are the epitome of going above and beyond. At the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services, Meta and Earl help provide healthcare, food, clothing and shelter to low-income individuals. The couple transformed both the organization’s Clothes Closet and Food Pantry by improving donation management and increasing storage space. With Goochland Court Appointed Special Advocate, Meta and Earl advocated and provided support for seven at-risk children, working 25-75 hours a month – including attending treatment meetings out of state averaging 1,200-1,900 miles per month. When Meta was named Goochland Christmas Mother in 2014, she worked for six months to raise money and organize volunteers to purchase, wrap, and distribute gifts to those in need. Additionally, the couple has also established an annual giving program in their neighborhood, as well as reached out beyond Virginia to assist those in need in other areas.
Senior Volunteer: Fran Ricketts (Winchester)
Fran has dedicated her life to helping others for more than 30 years. Her life’s work has been serving through the Congregational Community Action Project (CCAP), a council of 200 churches and synagogues dedicated to addressing the needs of the poor and disadvantaged in Winchester. Fran manages the entire program – from fundraising to recruiting volunteers to personally responding around the clock to the needs of the community. Each year, Fran and the CCAP assist more than 34,000 families in the community. The vast majority of these families are in need of food support and Fran works hard to provide fresh foods and canned goods to keep her community fed. A great many of these families are homeless or at risk of being evicted. Fran annually assists nearly 300 of these families in the Winchester and Frederick County area finding them shelter and a place to store their personal items. When no shelter can be found, Fran even makes sure families have someplace to sleep providing tents, sleeping bags, and cooking supplies. She even goes above and beyond to help individuals plan for the future assisting them with paying for GED testing and helping find job interview clothing.
Youth Volunteer: Isabella Lovain (Alexandria)
Alexandria’s Isabella Lovain is described as a bundle of energy – part super volunteer, part civic activist, and part community organizer. Volunteering at least 10 hours per week for various organizations, Isabella has the uncanny ability to appear wherever there is a need. She also stands out because of her vision and commitment to create change on a meaningful scale. Her role as a student liaison to the Alexandria City School Board has given a voice to the 13,000 students attending public schools in her community. She is also an active member of Inspire Virginia and has independently developed a tool to improve voter registration at her high school with the goal of registering 85 percent of all eligible students. Isabella puts her desire to serve into action — volunteering to help students with scholarship applications, serving on mission trips, participating in river cleanups, providing pro bono photography to military families, and more.