27th Annual Event Recognizes a Record Number of Dedicated Volunteers

Madison, WI (May 2, 2017) – Today, 177 nominees were recognized for what often goes unrecognized – exemplary service in volunteerism. They were honored at the 2017 United Way Community Volunteer Awards: Celebrating the Heart and Soul of Dane County, held at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club with more than 700 people in attendance. Eleven awards were presented to individuals, groups, businesses and organizations for having the greatest impact in volunteerism in our community.

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

“United Way understands the influence of volunteers making change. It’s not enough to just give money or to just volunteer, you must have resources to make change, and hands to make it happen for a stronger community,” said Renee Moe, President and CEO of United Way of Dane County. “The Community Volunteer Awards are a celebration of this notion. These 177 nominees represent a thriving culture of giving back that has the dual purpose of making our community a better place and bringing more people together.”

“This event is a preview of what’s to come – we are going to be working on bringing more volunteers to the community through engagement with businesses, retirees, youth and community groups,” 2017 Board Chair Anna Burish explained.

Keynote Speaker Sal Carranza of the Latino Education Council added, “The people attending today’s event represent thousands of volunteers who are breaking down boundaries across our community every day. This diverse group of nominees put in thousands of hours of work, and those hours often go unrecognized. They truly are the heart and soul of Dane County.”

In 2016, over 2,600 United Way volunteers gave nearly 98,000 hours of their time – which translates into a value of $2,306,712. That does not include the other 16,000 volunteers who provided more than 420,370 additional hours of service to United Way partner agencies in support of United Way’s focus areas of Education, Income and Health.

Nolan Brown, Co-Chair  of the United Way Community Engagement Capacity Building Team, hosted the event, while WKOW-TV’s Greg Jeschke and Amber Noggle acted as emcees. 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 are joined by sponsored by Support Sponsors, JP Cullen and Physicians Plus, and Community Sponsor, National Guardian Life. WKOW Channel 27 and WORT-FM are our Media Sponsors. We are grateful to the Business Volunteer Network, Dane County Administrators of Volunteer Services and the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Fund for their award sponsorship. We are also thankful to Total Awards & Promotions, the Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor’s Club and Celebrations Entertainment for their support.

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 VolunteerYourTime.org.

2017 Award Winners:

Goodman Gemstone Youth Award ($1,000 and $1,000 scholarship):
Danielle Wendricks has put in countless hours over the last 4 years to better the Madison Community. She is involved with LaFollette High School’s National Honor Society, where she volunteers at school fundraisers to support the Rape Crisis Center. She is also a member of her high school Key Club. This year, Danielle and the Key Club took on the project of creating a food pantry to help their fellow students, and take the issue of hunger. Danielle participates in the Lancer Squared Club as well, spending time with and serving as a mentor to her peers with special needs.

Mike McKinney Award ($1,000) (named for a longtime Madison newscaster, volunteer, mentor and Community Volunteer Award emcee, who passed away in 2006):
Dawn Crim is a member, and the current president, of the Madison Network of Black Professionals. She has been a member there since the organization was created in 2004. As a founding member, Dawn saw a gap in terms of how African Americans were experiencing social, professional development, networking and collaborative efforts in Madison. She, along with several other African American leaders in the community, set out to create a space, now known as the Madison Network of Black Professionals, for African Americans to thrive. Since becoming president, Dawn has been able to grow the organization from 45 members to 76
members last year, as well as raise awareness of the organization in the community.

Community Volunteer Business Award ($1,000):
Bluetree Network, Inc employees volunteer for many agencies, including Second Harvest Foodbank, Tri 4 Schools, and Project Home. Since the beginning of their organization in 2013, they have participated in the “Share Your Holidays” campaign by donating and sorting food for Second Harvest. Their efforts, and the funds they raised, resulted in 21,516 meals for our community! Bluetree has also partnered with The Road Home, which strives to help homeless families with children. They have cleaned and painted, organized a backpack and school supplies drive, and made a multi-year commitment to sponsor affordable housing for a family.

Community Volunteer Award ($1,000):
Jeanne Moren received this award for giving her time and talents to Journey Mental Health Center for 35 years. Jeanne has served as the volunteer backbone of Survivors of Suicide (SOS) since 1982 when she was personally affected by a loss. She facilitates a weekly support group for the friends, parents, spouses and children of those who have committed suicide. Jeanne says that when people attend this group for the first time, they are surprised to find they are not alone, and this is tremendously healing.

Community Volunteer Award ($1,000):
Sue Humphrey has been a Parent Stressline Advocate since 1990, volunteering 20 hours per month to provide validation, support, and humanity to parents and individuals who are in crisis. The Parent Stressline of the Canopy Center offers a listening line 14 hours a day, 365 days a year, that is staffed by volunteer Advocates. Sue has helped tens of thousands of parents in Dane County to thrive in raising their children, and to see that they are not alone in their darkest moments.

Community Volunteer Youth Award ($500 and $500 scholarship):
Freddie Lopez-Daniel is a student at Memorial High School, and in addition to excelling in school and working part time, he dedicates more than 20 hours each week to working with minority youth. Freddie is the current president of his school’s Latino Club, serves on student council, has been involved with “Regeneracion”, a community Latino youth group, and the Day without Latinos protest. He also founded the Student Activist club this year, which helped raise nearly $500 for the victims of Syria.

Distinguished Service Nonprofit Award ($250):
Madison Dental Initiative serves the dental needs of the homeless residents of the Salvation Army of Dane County. Last year, 80 volunteers provided dental care for 673 individuals, a value of more than $400,000 in services. Madison Dental Initiative has become a vital part of the safety net dental clinic for those most in need in our community. The volunteer dentists, dental hygienists, and dental students are crucial to their success and strive to serve more patients every year.

Distinguished Service Award ($250):
Madison College Volunteer Center was honored for their volunteerism at five different agencies: Community Action Coalition, East Madison Community Center, River Food Pantry, Schools of Hope at Wright Middle School, and Karmenta Nursing Home. 85 students participate in the Volunteer Center each semester. In total, they volunteer 1,700 hours, which is equivalent to more than $37,000 in wages. They are making a tremendous impact by doing everything from helping children in after school programs, to serving community meals, to helping older adults with rehabilitation.

Distinguished Service Award ($250):
Melanie Schmidt was recognized for being a key leader, volunteer, and visionary for Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS). Melanie had devoted the last five years to helping that organization transition during a period of extraordinary growth. Thanks to Melanie’s leadership, she has helped DAIS programs become more streamlined, more efficient, and more effective in meeting the needs of domestic violence survivors and their families in Dane County.

Distinguished Service Award ($250):
Robert Rahn has volunteered for the past 15 years, giving 100 hours every month to the City of Madison Police Department. He leads a volunteer initiative which offers retired police officers a way to remain involved in the department, and continue to use their experience, training, and wisdom to help relieve the workload of active officers. He has been instrumental in establishing and leading the Retired Officer’s Advisory Resource (ROAR) program for the MPD.

Distinguished Service Award (Lifetime Achievement) ($250):
Jan Somerfeld was honored for her lifetime achievement of giving more than 17,000 hours over the last 18 years to support and advocate for older adults in our community. Jan has volunteered at the North/Eastside Senior Coalition (NESCO) since 1999, serving on the Board of Directors, helping to transform fundraising, and representing NESCO throughout the community. Through her leadership on the Board and standing committees, she has helped identify areas where the agency lacks resources and brought together volunteers to fill those gaps.

About United Way of Dane County:
United Way of Dane County fights for the education, financial stability, and health of everyone in Dane County.
Through strategic partnerships and collaborative work, United Way brings the many voices of Dane County together to find common ground, develop a strategic architecture for change, and make measurable progress, while engaging organizations and individuals with the opportunity to give, advocate and volunteer to change lives in Dane County.