2020 Volunteerism Award Winners

Governor Ralph Northam has officially announced the winners of the 2020 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards. The annual program recognizes the outstanding contributions of individual volunteers and organizations to the well-being of the Commonwealth and its people.

“People in every corner of the Commonwealth are rising to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and volunteering their time, skills, and resources in this time of great need,” said Governor Northam. “With these awards, we recognize the spirit of volunteerism and celebrate the exemplary service of individuals, groups, and organizations that have made significant contributions to their communities and the lives of their fellow Virginians. This year’s honorees embody our shared values of compassion, empathy, and kindness, and we should all strive to follow their examples.”

“We are grateful for the critical support, collaboration, and dedication these volunteers have contributed to communities across the Commonwealth,” said Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner S. Duke Storen. “It is through this spirit of ‘people helping people’ that families are empowered, communities thrive, and Virginia becomes a stronger place to live and work.”

“These ten award winners represent the depth and breadth of volunteerism and community service of more than two million Virginians who freely give their time and talents each year,” said Chairman of the Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism Julie Strandlie. “The civic fabric of our communities is stronger because of their generosity. The Board looks forward to joining Governor Northam to celebrate the 2020 honorees at a future event. We offer our appreciation and gratitude to all Virginians who serve.”

The awards are 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. Watch the official awards ceremony video.

The winners of the 2020 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards include:

The Hope Center (Petersburg)

The Hope Center, which serves as the community outreach of Downtown Churches United, Inc. (DCU), contributes more than 14,000 hours of service to the Petersburg community annually.  Providing hunger and financial relief services, The Hope Center operates the Daily Feeding Program, which includes a food pantry, help with paying utility bill payments, and regular blood pressure screenings. The Daily Feeding Program provides a hot lunch for more than 80 people a day with servers from a mix of Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant congregation. The food pantry operates approximately 20 hours a week and distributes groceries to an average of 175 households a week. More

First Baptist of Lambert’s Point (Norfolk)
For a decade, the congregation at First Baptist of Lambert’s Point – led by their Pastor Anthony Paige – has served the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of students at the Madison Alternative School. Each year, the volunteers from the congregation collect and distribute much-need supplies for the under-resourced students who come from many Norfolk Public Schools.  Throughout the school year, Pastor Paige and the volunteers also help the students work through personal barriers that have interfered with their success. At the end of the school year, graduation is held at the church – an emotional and moving day for the students and congregation alike. More

OUTSTANDING CORPORATION | Northwest Federal Credit Union (Herndon)
Northwest Federal Credit Union has made a strong commitment to their community by implementing a powerful community service initiative called “Transforming Lives Through Acts of We.” By partnering with many local organizations, credit union staff have countless opportunities to serve and receive 24 paid volunteer hours per year. In 2018 employees volunteered more than 7,800 hours, and donated more than $120,000 to their community partners. More

HERO Club of Amherst County High School (Amherst)
The student-led HERO (Helping Everyone Reach Out) Club was started by freshman Alannah Wilson at Amherst County High School four years ago. The club serves as a way to answer people’s questions about disabilities, convey how those disabilities affect people, and facilitate self-determination and self-advocacy. The HERO Club has grown to 30 volunteers annually and is comprised of students with and without disabilities. In addition to hosting various speakers on a variety of topics, the club presents educational outreach programs and does outreach throughout the year to various organizations – all while focusing on their motto, “I can, you can, we can, together.” More

OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS | SecureTech360 (Springfield)
SecureTech360, a cybersecurity and IT consulting firm located in Springfield, has a small staff of less than 20 employees making a huge impact. Employees have committed to serving more than 300 hours mentoring students and participating in several walks to raise funds for a variety of causes. SecureTech360 has also donated more than $30,000 to several different local charities and provided more than $15,000 in scholarships monies to several nonprofit organizations dedicated to educating and serving underrepresented communities. More

OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER FAMILY | The Blanco Family (Fairfax Station)
For a decade the Blanco Family has dedicated their time and talents volunteering for the Workhouse Arts Center in Fairfax Station. The entire family has dedicated countless hours to the center, including mom, Caroline, serving on the board; dad, Andrew, providing his operations expertise throughout the 55-acre campus; and their children, David and Meredith, volunteering for the organization’s annual haunted trail, one of the Center’s most important revenue generating events, designed to support the mission of the Workhouse. Recently, the family jumped into action when the event was in jeopardy making sure that it went on as planned – ultimately making sure the center could continue it work in the community. More

OUTSTANDING SENIOR VOLUNTEER | Edward L. Weiner Esq. (Fairfax)
Attorney Ed Weiner has combined his love for jazz and justice to raise much-needed revenue for music scholarships at George Mason University and supporting civil legal aid. Ed developed a special concert event and formed a nonprofit, Jazz4Justice, encouraging replication of his concept by crafting a “J4J in a box” for others to use his concept. Through Ed’s events alone, more than $500,000 has been raised for music scholarships, and an additional $500,000 to support legal aid reaching tens of thousands of low-income Virginians facing life-altering civil legal issues like domestic violence protective orders, custody disputes, fighting illegal evictions and preventing unlawful foreclosures or denials of benefits to which they are entitled. More

Since 2011, Jean Schiro-Zavela has dedicated 1,700 hours of volunteer time to Britepaths, a financial literacy program in Northern Virginia. Jean volunteers providing administrative support to the organization and is responsible for entering all of the data needed to implement, assess, and report on the program. In the first 11 months of 2019, Jean was instrumental in documenting and tracking the 900 individuals who attended free financial literacy education classes or who met with a financial planner. Additionally, she entered data for and tracked another 663 individuals who attended one-on-one sessions with a financial literacy mentor. Her competence, commitment, and passion has helped hundreds of Virginia families become financially self-sufficient. More

Aniyah Hubert, a senior at Averett University, began volunteering at a young age and continued throughout her high school and college career in full force. Serving with Sister4Sister, she acquired a sponsorship to support two local women’s shelters by purchasing, organizing and stuffing more than 40 care packages. She also serves as a counselor for the crisis hotline and assists younger students on campus for freshman orientation week, recently. For the next phase in her life of service, Aniyah has decided become an AmeriCorps member as a STEM/Literacy Developer for the Danville Church Based Tutorial Program. More

OUTSTANDING YOUTH VOLUNTEER | Olivia Gilbert (Prince George)
Olivia Gilbert (age 13) is a force for fighting hunger in Prince George, collecting more than 6,500 pounds of food to date. Olivia, who started volunteering at just four years old, began by sending care packages to her cousin’s military unit overseas and then went on to focus on addressing hunger issues by collecting food donations. In 2014, she started collecting food from her school and later expanded to collecting donations from her after school care organization, dance classmates, family, friends, various organizations, six schools in Prince George County, and the Prince George County School Board office. She also volunteers her time in the food bank — helping to distribute food, clothing and other items. More

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 Services on behalf of the Office of the Governor. These awards have recognized exceptional volunteer service in Virginia for more than 20 years.