Senior Corps and AmeriCorps members serving in Virginia who have performed outstanding service to their communities were honored at the 2018 Virginia Volunteerism and Service Conference on May 21, 2018. The second annual Virginia National Service Awards honored seven amazing individuals who were nominated by their organization's program directors/sponsors. Winners were announced at a special awards luncheon at the conference in Richmond with nearly 400 nonprofit and service leaders.
2018 Virginia National Service Award Winners
For the seniors in Lizzie Scott’s community, she provides so much more than companionship. Her dedication to service has enabled individuals to stay in their own homes and live independently. Mrs. Scott, who has volunteered with some of her clients for more than five years, transports them to medical appointments and errands, makes sure their pantries have plenty of food, and helps out doing light meal preparation and housework. She also links clients with much needed community resources. For one client, she provided assistance when faced with issues regarding their funeral preparations. Not only did she makes sure her client could work out final details with the funeral home, but she contacted several local agencies to help with her client’s financial details. For nearly 20 years, Ms. Scott has been tirelessly dedicated to the needs of seniors in her community – making a real difference in their lives and lifestyles.
Francine Nelson, a retired educator, has dedicated her time and talents teaching fourth grade students in Prince William County the skills they need to handle being at home alone at the end of the school day. The ‘Safe at Home Safe Alone” program is a partnership between Volunteer Prince William, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Virginia State University, American Red Cross and Prince William County Sheriff’s Office. Ms. Nelson’s participation in the program has reached more than 1,700 students, many of whom attend Title I schools. Her calm demeanor and steady, step-bystep guidance has done much to instill students’ faith in themselves and make them feel better able to handle the challenges of being home alone. Ms. Nelson clearly loves what she does and is one of those individuals who was born to teach and work with children and youth. The success of “Safe at Home Safe Alone” is due in large part to her ongoing support and expertise.
Since 2005, Mary Hines has traveled nearly an hour each day to make made it her mission to be a source of encouragement for children. She regularly shares a poem she wrote for the students which conveys that they too can transform into a butterfly from a cocoon. Ms. Hines has been instrumental to other Foster Grandparents and future volunteers by sharing her experiences. She has been recognized in the past with several awards for service, including the Presidential Award for Service. Ms. Hines is a wonderful example of selflessness in service – caring for those around her and determined to make sure our young people believe in themselves.
In just a short time serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA with CAPUP, Will has shown a strong talent for developing community relationships. As a long-overdue needs assessment was just kicking off, Will worked to develop critical relationships with local educational institutions by recruiting students to assist with the process. He was involved in all aspects of the effort – managing and motivating volunteers and reaching out to key players in the community. Will’s successes were pivotal to the effectiveness of the needs assessment, which will ultimately guide CAPUP as it works to make a real impact. His dedication and passion as an AmeriCorps VISTA will no doubt have a long-lasting impact for CAPUP’s ability to clearly define and address critical issues and get the community the assistance they need.
Following a lifetime of service in teaching, Deenia continued her passion for education by joining AmeriCorps where she serves by tutoring at Oakland Elementary in Galax. In her fourth year of service, Deenia has a strong collaborative relationship with the teachers at her school and has successfully trained three new AmeriCorps members. She is also passionate about serving her community -- not only taking each of the National Days of Service to heart, but also active in volunteer projects throughout the year. Deenia was instrumental in planning and implementing four annual launch events, 43 community service projects as part of the AmeriCorps program, and 15 other outside projects. Her team regularly collects more than 2,000 non-perishable food items for Carroll County's Christmas food boxes (nearly double what larger and more affluent schools collect!). Deenia even started a new community service effort at the local soup kitchen in Galax where she conducts activities and crafts for children following mealtime. Always looking for new ways to serve others, Deenia Carico exemplifies the spirit of service of the Robert E. Wone Award.
Both AmeriCorps Alums with CARITAS, the dynamic duo of Lori Schmiege and Huey Gordon manage the CARITAS Furniture Bank operations. Lori, who served from 2010-2011, and Huey, who served from 2011-2012, both react with empathy and a resolve to “get things done,” attitudes they developed as members. They are also both willing and happy to coach and mentor other AmeriCorps members and ultimately show these members how to be excellent employees when they move on to the workforce. Since joining CARITAS staff, they have mentored 40 AmeriCorps members -- that’s 40 hires, 40 written performance development plans and over 100 reviews, and 40 lives touched with daily coaching and mentoring! The tenure of service between Huey and Lori makes them a unique team spreading their light and big hearts within the CARITAS organization while doing the hard work that needs to be done.