RSVP Site table

Madison, WI (April 20, 2016) – Today, 74 nominees were recognized for their outstanding efforts to make Dane County a better place for all. They were honored at the 2016 United Way Community Volunteer Awards, held at Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club with 500 people in attendance. Eleven awards were presented to individuals, groups, businesses and organizations for having the greatest impact in our community.

The Community Volunteer Awards takes the opportunity to highlight the enormous benefits volunteers bring to our community. Leading by example, the nominees and award recipients encourage everyone to engage in their community through volunteerism.

“Volunteers are the soul of United Way,” said Renee Moe, President and CEO of Dane County. “Volunteers give their time and talents, so we can create the greatest and most impactful change in Dane County. We are incredibly grateful for the passion, expertise and hard work that every volunteer brings to United Way and hundred of nonprofits throughout the community.” In 2015, 20,219 volunteers provided more than 437,000 additional hours of service to United Way partner non-profits. That equals nearly $11 million in value!

To find a volunteer project perfect for you, your family or company, contact United Way’s Volunteer Center at 608-246-4380 or online at

Nolan Brown from Spectrum Brands joined WKOW-TV’s Greg Jeschke and Amber Noggle as hosts. Winners received $250 to $1,000 to be given to the nonprofit at which they volunteer.

The Community Volunteer Awards are generously presented by CUNA Mutual Group and sponsored by WKOW Channel 27, WORT, Dean & St. Mary’s, National Guardian Life Insurance and Physicians Plus. We are grateful to the Business Volunteer Network, Dane County Administrators of Volunteer Services and the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Foundation for their award sponsorship. We are also thankful to Total Awards and Celebrations Entertainment for their support of the Community Volunteer Awards.

2016 Award Winners:

Goodman Gemstone Youth Award:
Emma Hanisko is 16 years old and has volunteered for a majority of her life. She serves as the President for Cambridge 4-H and is involved in her club’s service projects with organizations like Toys for Tots and the Cambridge Food Pantry. For the last five years, Emma celebrates her birthday with a Party for the Pantry, where she collects donations for Cambridge Food Pantry instead of gifts. This year, she collected a record 315 items, with more than 1,200 items over the last five years. Emma received a $1,000 scholarship as well as $1,000 to be donated to a nonprofit of her choice.
Mike McKinney Award (named for a longtime Madison newscaster, volunteer, mentor and Community Volunteer Award emcee, who passed away in 2006):
Karl Stadler volunteers at RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program), giving 80 hours a month and has been volunteering there for the last decade! RSVP connected Karl to Porchlight, where he has given more than 6,900 hours! He often spends 30 hours a week, repairing and maintaining housing units. Karl also volunteers with Habitat ReStore, sorting donated items and stocking shelves. RSVP has tallied up Karl’s volunteerism and he has given 9,100 hours to various nonprofits over the last 10 years! Karl received $1,000, which will be donated to the nonprofit Karl serves.

Business Volunteer Award:
Zendesk not only supports Madison-area nonprofits financially, but it empowers its employees to regularly volunteer. This year, Zendesk is setting a goal of giving 1,000 hours of service by at least 90% of their employees! Zendesk is committed to working with nonprofits that provide basic needs like food, clothing and shelter. Employees harvest local produce with Food Pantry Gardens, then sort and package that produce with Second Harvest, and finally, volunteer with River Food Pantry to distribute this food. Zendesk received $1,000, which will be donated to the nonprofit it serves.

Community Volunteer Award for Lifetime Achievement:
Larry Schaefer received this award for his dedication to Supporting Active Independent Lives or SAIL. Larry has been volunteering with SAIL for the last 18 years and his volunteerism dates back even further to 1991! Larry provides rides as a volunteer of RSVP and the Middleton Senior Center. Combining all of his volunteer work, Larry has spent 7,500 hours driving people to appointments since 1997. Coordinators at SAIL say Larry’s commitment is amazing. He is always available and willing to give a ride to those who need it. Larry received $1,000, which will be donated to the nonprofit Larry serves.

Community Volunteer Award for Outstanding Leadership:
DeKendrea Stamps has been giving her time and talents to East Madison Community Center for nearly two decades! She volunteers around 25 hours a month and serves as the center’s Board President. DeKendrea is passionate about her community and strives to make sure communities of color have a voice. She will receive $1,000 for East Madison Community Center.

Community Volunteer Youth Award:
Maia Beirne is 16 years old, an Oregon High School sophomore and dedicates her time to Panthers vs. Cancer, a service club she created! It raises student awareness in the fight against all forms of cancer. More than 70 people have joined! They raise money in order to make blankets and baskets for patients fighting cancer. They will also visit local hospitals to visit children and adults battling cancer.

Distinguished Service Nonprofit Award:
East Madison Community Center celebrates its 50th anniversary this year! Started by volunteers in 1966 in the basement of a church, East Madison Community Center has grown into a 20-thousand square foot facility in the heart of the Truax area. This community center brings together 250 volunteers who power nearly 5,000 hours of support every year! Volunteers are key to EMCC’s success. Without them, the center’s 10,000 hours of programs offered every year would be cut by a third.

Distinguished Service Award:
R.E.A.D.I. Group (Retired Employees Are Dedicated Individuals) was honored for their volunteerism at Second Harvest Foodbank! This group of retired employees has given more than 12,000 hours over the last 12 years! Hunger is a serious struggle for 1 in 9 Dane County residents, including 1 in 5 children. R.E.A.D.I. volunteers are determined to get more meat, food that’s high in demand, to more families. Second Harvest estimates R.E.A.D.I. volunteers saves 70% of perfectly good frozen meat that would otherwise go to waste. In one shift, volunteers sort 15,000 to 20,000 pounds of food! This group volunteers at Second Harvest twice a month and it’s just one organization R.E.A.D.I. volunteers serve in our community.

Distinguished Service Award:
St. Olaf Respite Care Team are dedicated to providing rest and relief to family caregivers, at no cost to the family. This team from DeForest gives 40 hours a month and has been volunteering for the last 17 years! Through their time, they visit with those who are homebound, while their family members can take a well-deserved break. The team served a couple in which the husband was the full-time caregiver for his wife. Team members visited them three times a week for eight years, without fail! Her doctor says, because of these visits and the exercises she was able to perform with the team, she was able to live independently for much longer, than without this support.

Distinguished Service Award:
Jim Spilburg volunteers at Agrace Hospice Care. Jim is a warm and friendly presence who puts patients at ease, whether it is through playing games, reading a book, holding their hand or simply sitting quietly in their room with them. Jim has volunteered with patients over the last 10 years, giving 25 hours every month. Jim has enriched the journey of hundreds of patients and their families over the years.

Distinguished Service Award:
Bob Gwynne was honored for his volunteerism with Triangle Community Ministry and Second Harvest. Bob is a board member at Triangle Community Ministry and single-handedly started the Second Harvest Mobile Food Pantry in 2009. He recruited 20 volunteers and this mobile pantry is available to 500 residents of the Triangle in downtown Madison. Every month, around 130 families get fresh produce, meat and other food thanks to Bob’s dedication.