United Way of Inner Wisconsin
The Volunteer Center Honors the 2012 Outstanding Volunteers of the Year
Or click below to view a recording of the program!
Backpack for Kids
Marshfield Clinic Americorp Members - Mead School
- United Way of Inner Wisconsin’s Volunteer Center is proud to announce 2012 Outstanding Volunteers of the Year. The award recipients were honored at the Volunteer Recognition Breakfast, which was held earlier today at the Hotel Mead and Conference Center.
- This year there were 24 nominees. The award recipients were selected by an independent Award Selection Committee. However, all the nominees were real winners!
- The 2012 award recipients are:
- 2012 Outstanding Youth Individual Volunteer of the Year
Linsey Feit: Linsey was on the 2011 Day of Caring Youth Advisory Committee, where she organized a food drive at a local grocery store. Because of her efforts, she raised over $100 cash and two trunk loads of groceries; then went shopping to purchase more groceries with the cash donations. Linsey has over 650 hours of community service, works a part-time job, maintains a 4.0 GPA and also participates in several extra-curricular activities.
- 2012 Outstanding Youth Volunteer Group of the Year
Backpack for Kids: Backpack for Kids helps families in need of food in the Nekoosa School District. Students involved in the project fill empty backpacks with non-perishable food on Friday and drop them off to the schools so students (and their families) who have no food at home during the weekend won’t go hungry. Backpack for Kids participants create a menu, take inventory, pick up food from the grocery store, and fill the backpacks. During the holidays they also gave each family a tie fleece blanket.
- 2012 Outstanding Adult Individual Volunteer of the Year
Gordon Harmon: Gordon is “82 years young” and has a long list of organizations that he volunteers for. He drives local vets to the veteran’s hospitals in Madison and Tomah, sometimes several times per week at his own expense. He initiated a Valentine’s Day dinner at the VHW, is a relief Honor Guard commander and visits the Veteran’s Home in King where he delivers donations for residents and the homeless. He has volunteered for his church for 56 years. He has volunteered for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Walk for 10 years. His own wife, Nancy, passed away from cancer. He has also been active in the Eagles Club for 51 years.
- 2012 Outstanding Adult Volunteer Group of the Year
Marshfield Clinic Americorp Members – Mead School: The Americorp members at Mead School help out as mentors and positive role models. They help students make healthy choices and improve the students’ personal/social and academic success. They create over 40 individual student plans to help build developmental assets and address needs; they also develop case management plans for each child based on observational behavior. Each Americorp member devotes 40 hours per week with a total of 1,700 hours per year. They start their day well before school starts and end their day many hours after the school day lets out.
- For a listing of all the nominees, please read below.
- Pastor Jake Close, Pastor Emeritus at First Congregational UCC Church, gave the prayer at the beginning of the program; Mary Jo Carson, Mayor of Wisconsin Rapids, was present to proclaim this week National Volunteer Week; Roger Harris, the Executive Director at Jeremiah’s Crossing, gave the opening remarks; and Kevin Hendershot, Director of Special Programs at Opportunity Development Centers, Inc. presented the awards.
- United Way of Inner Wisconsin and the Volunteer Center thanks the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune and the Gannett Foundation for sponsoring today’s Volunteer Breakfast; the Hotel Mead for hosting our event; the Volunteer Center Task Force for their help during the program; and the United Way of Inner Wisconsin Board of Directors for their support of the Volunteer Center.
- We would also like to thank the volunteers at River Cities Community Access for videotaping today’s program. The Volunteer Recognition Breakfast can be viewed on Solarus Channel 3 or Charter Channels 96 or 985 on Wednesday, April 18 at 3:30pm, Thursday April 19 at 5:00pm and on Friday, April 20 at 4:00pm.
The 2012 Nominees:
- 3 Youth Individual Nominees
- Tyler Arentz: Tyler is a student at Lincoln High School. He volunteers for the special needs cheer and stunt team called the Wisconsin Extreme Dream Team. Tyler’s autistic brother is a member of the cheer team, which practices every month. Tyler helps the team do its routine. He also helps a Lincoln High School student with a health condition to her locker and her class on an as-needed basis. He also volunteers for his church (St. Luke’s) during Lenten meals, during the 2011 Summer School Program and raised $250 for the 2012 Special Olympics Polar Plunge.
- Ariana De Las Alas: Ariana is a student at Lincoln High School and over the years she has raised $3,500 for the South Wood County Humane Society by asking friends and family to give her monetary donations instead of birthday gifts. The money raised is used for food and supplies for abandoned animals. She also volunteers at Riverview Medical Center delivering flowers and guiding visitors to different departments; she helps run concession stands during basketball games; and is a former President of the Key Club.
- Linsey Feit: Linsey was on the 2011 Day of Caring Youth Advisory Committee, where she organized a food drive at a local grocery store. Because of her efforts, she raised over $100 cash and two trunk loads of groceries; then went shopping to purchase more groceries with the cash donations. Linsey has over 650 hours of community service, works a part-time job, maintains a 4.0 GPA and also participates in several extra-curricular activities.
- 6 Youth Group Nominees
- Backpack for Kids: Backpack for Kids helps families in need of food in the Nekoosa School District. Students involved in the project fill empty backpacks with non-perishable food on Friday and drop them off to the schools so students (and their families) who have no food at home during the weekend won’t go hungry. Backpack for Kids participants create a menu, take inventory, pick up food from the grocery store, and fill the backpacks. During the holidays they also gave each family a tie fleece blanket.
- East Ambassadors – Stop Distracted Drivers: This group at East Junior High School started their campaign by educating their peers about the dangers of distracted driving. They organized assemblies for all ninth grade students which has become an annual event. They also educated parents by having permanent signs installed behind the school showing a cell phone with a line through it. Then they lined up around the school holding signs stating “Put it Down.” They also write articles in the parent newsletter. Finally, they worked with the Wisconsin Rapids Police Department and City Council to pass an ordinance banning cell phone use in the city of Wisconsin Rapids. Over 1,000 volunteer hours went into the project.
- Howe Elementary Student Leadership Class: This group meets once a week before school to discuss service projects. They visit residents at Renaissance Assisted Living Center, and raised money for the Neighborhood Table. Last Spring, with the help of Woodlands Church and Howe School staff, they gave the school an “Extreme Makeover” including new landscaping and bark, painting the halls, stairwells and office, raked the playground, painted the blacktop games, refurbished the basketball hoops, installed a new football/soccer goal and tennis court, as well as a school-community garden. They also presented a series of skits on bullying and helped to create a behavioral matrix of positive expectations in all areas of the school.
- Lincoln High School Student Council: The LHS Student Council has been involved in numerous efforts including food drives for South Wood Emergency Pantry Shelf, raising funds for the Elks Club Christmas Basket program, the Community Candles program, raking leaves on Day of Caring, and school supply drives for Stuff the School Bus. They also hosted a meal for The Neighborhood Table, participated in a campus clean up on Earth Day and locker clean up on the last day of school. School supplies that were collected were sorted and either recycled or donated. They also went caroling at Renaissance Assisted Living Center and raised money during the Special Olympics Polar Plunge.
- Margarita/Ashley Team for TNT: Margarita Rebolledo and Ashley Piltz are ninth graders at East Junior High School. They started volunteering for the Neighborhood Table through the Girl Scout program. They wash and set up tables, pack carryout meals, serve food, prepare desserts, set up beverage tables, and clean floors. They are dependable, caring and friendly to the guests. The Neighborhood Table is grateful to have volunteers like Margarita and Ashley.
- The Schmoeckel/Morgan Sisters: Tameka, Tanisha, Keya and Tezla came to Jeremiah’s Crossing originally as clients. Jeremiah’s Crossing is an equine assisted activity program for children with physical, cognitive, emotional or academic disabilities. The sisters quickly discovered that volunteers are in high demand but short in supply so they offered to volunteer to fill some empty spaces in the lessons – first for their younger siblings, then for other riders and whenever help was needed. The staff even offered to transport the entire family at the end of the day so the four sisters could stay and volunteer. The sisters also gathered pledges for the annual Pony Express Ride-a-thon and raised $450 for the ranch.
- 13 Adult Individual Nominees
- Robert Cleworth Sr.: Robert is the director of the Silver Bells and Beaus Chorus through the Lowell Center. Robert’s history as Music Director at Lincoln High School was a good fit. The chorus group meets monthly from September to May and performs at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, churches, etc. Robert also participates in the Wisconsin Rapids Community Choir.
- Kathy Daly: Kathy spearheaded an effort to establish a snack program at the Boys and Girls Club of the Wisconsin Rapids Area. During a tour of the facility, her group was concerned to see children purchasing snacks from vending machines. Kathy recruited over 100 volunteers to provide snacks to the children each day. She even donates snacks on days where there isn’t enough. Since she started, there has been a decrease in behavioral issues associated with kids being hungry; now they are able to concentrate on their activities instead.
- Linda Durand: Linda volunteers for the Ministry Home Care’s Hospice program as an office and clerical assistant. Ministry Home Care provides support for people in the final phase of a terminal illness. Linda volunteers 4-5 hours weekly in the office by assembling binders for field staff, and coordinates bereavement mailings with other volunteers. Over 1,500 bereavement materials are mailed monthly to families. Linda also saw the need of cleaning in the office, and now empties the trash/recycling, does the vacuuming, etc.
- Amy Fuller: Amy volunteers her time at Rudolph Elementary School as a tutor and on the governance council. With tightening budgets in school districts, volunteers like Amy are more valuable than ever. She tutors a good portion of the school day, almost on a daily basis, focusing on reading, writing and math. She works with students in any area they show a need. She can also be counted on for any of the “extra” things that happen in the daily operation.
- Gordon Harmon: Gordon is “82 years young” and has a long list of organizations that he volunteers for. He drives local vets to the veteran’s hospitals in Madison and Tomah, sometimes several times per week at his own expense. He initiated a Valentine’s Day dinner at the VHW, is a relief Honor Guard commander and visits the Veteran’s Home in King where he delivers donations for residents and the homeless. He has volunteered for his church for 56 years. He has volunteered for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Walk for 10 years. His own wife, Nancy, passed away from cancer. He has also been active in the Eagles Club for 51 years.
- Paul Jeltema: Paul has volunteered at Humke Elementary School in the kindergarten classroom for four years. Twice a week he helps with activities, reads to the children and helps those who are struggling. He volunteers at his church, Christian Life Fellowship, and even started a Sunday School class for students with special needs, called Special Hearts Ministry. During the summer and fall, he volunteers at Jeremiah’s Crossing, a non-profit therapeutic horseback riding ranch for children with special needs. Once a week, he devotes his time to a full day of lessons; then cares for the horses before and after rides. He also helps with fundraiser events there as well.
- Ned Kubisiak: Ned has volunteered at Immanuel Lutheran School for five years. He volunteers on “Maintenance Night,” for school fundraisers and as a soccer and basketball coach. As a volunteer coach he is a positive role model, helps improve the students’ self-esteem and helps develop them to become positive leaders in the school and community. He also strengthens the faith of the students through athletic events. If there ever is a coaching need, Ned is there to help out.
- Dennis Nelson: Dennis volunteers at Vesper Community Academy as Governance Council Chairperson and Volunteer Coordinator. He created and maintains the school’s website, brings in volunteers to support student programming, offers his technology expertise, designs professional marketing tools, sets and facilitates after school enrichments, works to make the school garden a learning platform for the students, and many other tasks. He has the foresight to bring ideas to the table and the willingness to jump in and do the work to bring them to fruition.
- Carole Pfahning: Carole volunteers her time at Mead Elementary Charter School. She also juggles volunteer work at her church and being a mother of three – one of which is a Mead student. At Mead School she is treasurer of the Parent Teacher Committee which meets monthly. She handles the organization’s finances such as fundraising, yearbook collection and school carnival funds. She also volunteers for those projects, including mapping out and planning the school yearbook. She is also secretary of the Governing Council which meets monthly.
- Gayle Prusynski: Gayle started volunteering for Park Place Adult Day Services in 2004. Park Place is a supervised day program for dependent adults providing daily activities and socialization. Gayle has volunteered twice a week, every week for a minimum of six hours per day, oftentimes brining in homemade treats. She helps serve lunch, socializes with the patients, plays games and assists them to their vehicles. Her presence allows Park Place to maintain the required patient-to-staff ratio, keeping up standards for state certification.
- Patrick J. Rescheske: Patrick volunteers his time at Alexander Middle School in Nekoosa. He has been there for five years and oftentimes he comes to the school three times a day. He is there in the morning for tutoring. He comes back again mid-morning to help with seventh grade teaching time, helping students who need extra attention. He also initiated a Nekoosa Chess Club/Team that is open to students in 6th to 12th grade. He also helps out at the community baseball program, offering open clinics for 2-3 hours a day.
- Dick Smrz: Dick volunteers his time at River Cities Community Access, the City of Wisconsin Rapids cable access channel. Dick’s sports footage can be viewed several times a week. On average, he videotapes 2-3 sporting events per week (during sports seasons). He recruits volunteers to do commentary of each game. He also stays on top of the local sports statistics and shares that information before each game to make the coverage relevant and interesting. He also videotapes other events when needed, such as school music concerts.
- Donna Turcany: Donna is a very active volunteer in Adams County. She is president of Faith in Action of Adams County, a faith-based non-profit that provides in home services and transportation to local elderly/disabled through trained volunteers. She volunteers at her church, Trinity Lutheran of Adams, and is a committee member of a live Christmas performance called “A Night in Bethlehem.” At Villa Pines Living Center she organizes a monthly Bird Lovers Program where she teaches participants how to paint bird houses, make pine cone bird feeders and much more.
- 2 Adult Group Nominees
- Marshfield Clinic Americorp Members – Mead School: The Americorp members at Mead School help out as mentors and positive role models. They help students make healthy choices and improve the students’ personal/social and academic success. They create over 40 individual student plans to help build developmental assets and address needs; they also develop case management plans for each child based on observational behavior. Each Americorp member devotes 40 hours per week with a total of 1,700 hours per year. They start their day well before school starts and end their day many hours after the school day lets out.
- Ministry Home Care Hospice – 2011 Snowflake Ball Committee: This committee came together after responding to a call to develop a fundraiser to raise additional funds to directly assist hospice patients and their families on their final journey. Ministry Home Care Hospice provides service to anyone who qualifies for hospice care, regardless of their ability to pay. In four months the committee researched and planned an elegant holiday event that was attended by over 200 people. They had a budget of $0 but wanted to set the ticket prices low. Over 765 total combined hours were devoted to the project with several committee members continuing to volunteer as hospice volunteers as well as for other organizations in the community.