Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Awards will be presented to 21 individuals, seven groups and two businesses during a virtual ceremony at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 18.
The recipients will be recognized for significant contributions, engagement and impact in diverse activities.
"It is indeed a privilege to honor these individuals, organizations and businesses for their selfless work on behalf of others,” said Gov. John Carney. “Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year has been an especially trying one. That’s made the work of our volunteers all the more important and valued. I deeply appreciate the effort they put forth every day throughout our state to make Delaware stronger and a better place to call home.”
The Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Service Awards, administered by the State Office of Volunteerism, honor the contributions of individuals and groups in Delaware that have made a positive impact in their communities or across the state through service and volunteering. The awards are sponsored by the Office of the Governor, the Department of Health and Social Services, Division of State Service Centers, State Office of Volunteerism, and the Governor’s Commission on Community and Volunteer Service.
“I salute these worthy recipients and all those who volunteered their time and energy this year to help improve the health and well-being of their neighbors in need,” said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Molly Magarik. “The coronavirus pandemic has brought special hardships for many of our residents in 2020, which is why I am doubly grateful for the generosity and unselfish commitment of these volunteers.”
Ten of these award winners are from Sussex County.
Among her many volunteer roles, Maureen Griffith serves as a leader with the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, where she guides the morning Young Audience series and facilitates free performances at the Freeman Stage for children and families. She leads others by example, serving on the front lines in leadership roles and in the background with quiet determination to make the world a better place.
As a Delaware Hospice volunteer, Anne Ward transports patients to doctors’ offices for appointments, picks up necessary supplies, and serves as a respite worker for caregivers. She also has provided many meals for the elderly and those with disabilities, and spends time sending letters and cards to the sick or lonely.
As a volunteer advocate leader with the Alzheimer’s Association, Aimee Isaac goes above and beyond in fighting Alzheimer’s and supporting Delaware families facing the disease. Isaac uses her passion, her story, her time and unique skills to influence policymakers to make Alzheimer’s and dementia a national and state priority.
Toni Short runs Lighthouse for Broken Wings, a grassroots organization that provides a holistic, wraparound approach to help individuals and families who are homeless get back on their feet. Her efforts also support Sussex County Code Purple shelters during the winter.
Changing Fates Equine Rescue of Delaware Inc. is dedicated to locating abused and neglected horses, and rescuing, rehabilitating, retraining and rehoming them. Its mission is to also provide sanctuary for horses not suitable for adoption. This important work is carried out by numerous volunteers who work to feed and care for horses, maintain the grounds and raise funds to support these efforts.
The Shepherd’s Office is a faith-based drop-in center for people who are homeless, hungry or lonely. Its mission is to provide an alcohol- and drug-free, supportive, faith-based environment for people who have no family support, who are recovering alcoholics, recovering drug addicts, homeless, hungry or lonely.
Lunch With a Purpose was started in 2006 with the simple purpose of bringing women together each month for lunch while raising money to donate to a Sussex County nonprofit. In addition, they held a food drive during the luncheon with food donated to the Food Bank of Delaware. Around 200 women participate each month, and to date, Lunch With a Purpose has raised more than $250,000 for local charities while collecting tens of thousands of pounds of food for the Food Bank of Delaware.
Chicks For Charity organizes monthly fundraising dinners at no cost to selected nonprofits serving Sussex County. Over the past 10 years, volunteer organizers Marcie Urgo and Kari Ainsworth have raised more than $128,000 to support local service efforts. Their program provides a vehicle for nonprofits, especially small, local organizations with a special niche, to raise critical funds to fulfill their missions.
Volunteers of the New Life Thrift Shop in Sussex County receive donations and then sort, clean, repair, price and sell them. Unusable items are sold for other uses, such as scrap metal for recycling and worn clothing to a rag-making company, to garner more funds. Electrical items, such as lamps, appliances, electric wheelchairs, and sewing machines, are tested and often repaired. Nothing goes to waste. In 2019, the shop raised over $506,000 for service agencies in Sussex County that meet community needs.
Schell Brothers launched Project Kudos to build positivity and show gratitude to people in the community. Shifting focus during the pandemic, the Project Kudos bus has donated more than 440,000 meals to community members and partnered with numerous school districts and organizations to support families throughout Sussex County.