|Virginia Governor Democrats Terry McAuliffe 095 (Photo credit: mdfriendofhillary)|
Richmond, Va. (April 10, 2014) – Today during an awards ceremony held at the Governor’s Mansion, Governor McAuliffe announced the seven winners of the 2014 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards. These awards recognize individuals and organizations for their extraordinary volunteer efforts that make an impact on the lives of citizens throughout the Commonwealth.
“Building a better Virginia isn’t just about what elected officials do here in Richmond – it’s about the work that devoted volunteers are doing every day in their own neighborhoods and communities,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Each of these awardees has given of their time to make life better in their corner of the Commonwealth. It is my honor to celebrate these exceptional groups and individuals, who should be an example for all of us of what Virginians can achieve when we work together for the common good.”
Virginia Department of Social Services Commissioner Margaret Schultze continued, “The impact that one person or group can make on an entire community is commendable and should be celebrated. It’s important that we recognize those who have made significant contributions to those in need by volunteering right in their own communities.”
Fran Inge, Director of the Virginia Department of Social Services’ Office on Volunteerism and Community Service added, “Each year, the Commonwealth recognizes those who have demonstrated a commitment to serving their communities. These individuals and organizations are among the 1.79 million Virginians who made a difference in the lives of others by volunteering last year. Virginians on average contributed more than 221.7 million volunteer hours annually, equaling $5.1 billion of service to the Commonwealth.
The awards ceremony was organized by the Office on Volunteerism and Community Service at the Virginia Department of Social Services, in partnership with the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism. These organizations are charged by the Governor with saluting Virginians who have significantly contributed to the life and welfare of the Commonwealth and its citizens.
Winners of the 2014 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards are:
Outstanding Community Organization Award: Newport News Community Emergency Response Team (Newport News)
Serving a community of 187,000, the Newport News Community Emergency Response Team (NN CERT) has become a model for excellence for others in the region. Comprised of citizen volunteers committed to building community preparedness through outreach and emergency shelter response, NN CERT volunteers have donated more than 3,100 hours in 2013 alone.
Outstanding Educational Institution Volunteer Program Award: VCU ASPiRE (Academic Scholars Program in Real Environments) (Richmond)
Virginia Commonwealth University’s (VCU) ASPiRE program enrolls undergraduates who commit to complete nine hours of academic coursework and at least 100 hours of off-campus service for at least four semesters. Between August and December 2013 alone, ASPiRE students contributed more than 7,500 service hours to the Richmond community.
Outstanding Family Volunteer Service Award: The Frank G. Castelvecchi, III Family of Montpelier (Montpelier)
For six generations, the Castelvecchis have served their neighbors through the life-saving role of firefighting. Today in Montpelier, if there’s an emergency -- chances are a Castelvecchi will be there when the alarm sounds. For the Castelvecchi family, service to the community isn’t something you do with your extra time left over at the end of the day; It is a daily way of life.
Outstanding Small Business Award: Williams Bakery of Mechanicsville (Hanover County)
Ronnie and Cathy Williams, owners of Williams Bakery, a Richmond area fixture since 1911, have been giving back through donations of food and service throughout their history. Twice each month, the family-owned bakery donates enough bread, cookies, and pastries to the Western Hanover Emergency Action Team (WHEAT) food pantry to serve up to 100 families.
Outstanding Adult Volunteer Award: Nicole Paige Muller of Charlottesville (Charlottesville)
Through the Neighbors-4-Neighbors National Food Drive Initiative she started when she was just 16, Nicole has raised donations of more than 650,000 pounds of food. A full-time University of Virginia student, Nicole still personally organizes two annual campaigns, one local and one national. Her campaigns are responsible for food donations feeding more than half a million hungry Americans and monetary contributions providing more than 220,000 meals.
Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award: Jim George Smith, Jr. of Dahlgren (King George County)
A retired attorney, Jim George Smith, Jr., travels approximately 20,500 miles per year to mediate with families in crisis because he believes they deserve a chance to reach a resolution without costly litigation. Mr. Smith has dedicated his retirement years working with families on cases referred by the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts of Fauquier, Culpeper, and Stafford Counties. Through his efforts, he has worked through more than 250 cases per year.
Outstanding Youth Volunteer Award: Unity Bowling of Henrico (Henrico)
In middle school, Unity created the Read Along with a Pal Program (RAPP), recruiting students to mentor others needing reading help and worked with teachers to develop study plans. All RAPP program students passed their SOL tests that year. At 14 years old, Unity has collected more than 6,000 books for children and families across the Commonwealth. She has even had international impact, due to her networking abroad sustaining a children’s library established in 2011 in the village of El Calejon in the Dominican Republic.
# # #
The Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards are presented by the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism and VDSS’ Office on Volunteerism and Community Service on behalf of the Office of the Governor. These awards have recognized exceptional volunteer service in Virginia for more than 20 years. Additional information about the program and full bios on this year’s recipients can be found online at http://www.vaservice.org/go/