Senior Corps and AmeriCorps members serving in Virginia who have performed outstanding service to their communities were honored at the 2017 Virginia Volunteerism and Service Conference on May 16, 2017. The first annual Virginia National Service Awards honored five 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.
2017 Virginia National Service Award Winners
Senior Corps Senior Companion of the Year
Peggy Miller, Clinch Valley Community Action, Tazewell
As a Senior Companion serving in Tazewell, Peggy Miller provides so much more care for her clients than just the day-to-day assistance enabling them to stay in their homes. In addition to the light housekeeping, medication reminders, meal preparation, and transportation for appointments and errands – Peggy has a passion for understanding her clients’ needs and going the extra mile for their quality of life. Additionally, she serves as a mentor-trainer for new Senior Companions offering incredible insight into their abilities and able to perfectly match them with their clients. Peggy works tirelessly for her current clients and even frequently checks in on former clients. She understands that the connections between Senior Companions and their clients are not only just improving the lives of those they serve, but this has far reaching impact out into the community. For those fortunate individuals she serves directly, she is a blessing in their lives making independence a wonderful reality!
Senior Corps RSVP Volunteer of the Year
Rita Clark, Campbell County Board of Supervisors RSVP, Gladys
As one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and over, RSVP allows seniors to share their skills and talents while serving in a variety of volunteer activities. Rita Clark has not only dedicated her life to helping others, she is a dynamic volunteer recruiter and leader. A member of the Campbell County Senior Advisory Council, she volunteers at various hospitals, nursing homes and nonprofit organizations. As president of the local senior group the “On the Go Club,” Rita has built an extensive network of volunteers who check on one another, send cards, and prepare meals. She sews bags for local Boy and Girl Scout troop drives and regularly serves hot lunches at a nonprofit assisting homeless and hungry community members. For those individuals Rita recruits to volunteer alongside her, she is a dynamic role model who inspires them to follow her lead. She is not only a shining example of how serving can make a big difference in the community, but she shows those around her how service can make a tremendous impact on their own health and happiness.
Senior Corps Foster Grandparent of the Year
Annie Clark, Peninsula Foster Grandparent Program, Newport News
Annie Clark has served with the Foster Grandparent program for more than 20 years mentoring more than 100 students. She currently serves as the Foster Grandparent team leader for the Hunter B. Andrews Elementary School in Hampton where she volunteers more than 20 hours per week assisting and mentoring first graders. Annie has a deep compassion for children, not only in the school where she serves, but also throughout her community. Outside of the Foster Grandparent program, she shares strong messages about responsibility and character building during impromptu "teaching" moments with children in her neighborhood. During local elections, Annie conveys the importance of voting by mobilizing a "youth brigade" whom she accompanies door-to-door to canvas their neighborhoods. Visitors who come to her home will find a bulletin board with important information about neighborhood activities and political news posted by her front door. In addition to Annie’s tireless commitment to youth, she has also served as a volunteer with the local fire department, is a dedicated member of her church, and as the lead for the Crime Watch program in her neighborhood. She sets an amazing example for everyone in her community for outstanding civic engagement and community pride.
AmeriCorps VISTA Member of the Year
Maurice Robinson, Virginia Mentoring Partnership, Chesterfield
Maurice Robinson draws on his own personal experiences and his passion to fight poverty to connect with students as a Mentor Program Coordinator with Henrico Heroes, a school-based mentoring program in Henrico County Public Schools. Several years ago, he learned about VISTA and was immediately drawn to the program and its mission to reduce poverty. Serving first with Virginia Housing Alliance working on homelessness issues and then with Pathways working for education and job training for ex-convicts re-entering society, Maurice is now focusing his attention on at-risk youth. His positive attitude and a strong work ethic has made a huge impact to the program. Acting as a liaison with site supervisors at each school, Maurice has developed an innovative points system – adding an element of excitement to the program by encouraging the attendance of the mentees, mentors, and even the parents in order to win pizza parties and other exciting prizes. Having served two previous terms as a VISTA member, Maurice has also been a positive influence on other VISTA members serving as a resource for information and advice. Ultimately, his great sense of humor, ability to interest and appeal to an audience of listeners, and deeply thoughtful reflections he shares with his students, make him loved by everyone around him. Maurice’s positive impact on his students and on Henrico’s schools will be felt long after his term is over.
AmeriCorps State Member of the Year
(Robert E. Wone Award for Exemplary Service)
Sarahbeth Vernon, Virginia College Advising Corps, Charlottesville
Sarahbeth Vernon serves the Northern Neck communities of Richmond and Westmoreland counties by advising high school students to develop and enact their post-secondary plans. Although she grew up in Richmond, she had several family members who resided in Northern Neck and was excited about giving back to this community. As a college advisor, Sarabeth provides one-on-one admissions and financial aid advice to any student or family seeking assistance; organizes group workshops that encourage students and families to consider, plan for, and apply to colleges and universities; and orchestrates community events that create excitement around post-secondary opportunities in order to build a college-going culture. In the program’s first year in this region, she is the community’s inaugural college adviser and has exceeded all expectations in launching the program in two unique school environments. A large part of Sarabeth’s success was due in part to her work in leveraging collaborative relationships within the community. This has included developing an eighth grade mentorship program that connects students to local community leaders and prominent figures with similar backgrounds. Sarabeth’s tireless work ethic and tremendous compassion for her students has complemented the existing services in the county to help even more students attend colleges that will serve them well, academically and financially. She plans on continuing to serve students as a special education teacher. Sarabeth is an outstanding example of commitment to community by utilizing skills, passion, and heart to make an impact for generations to come.