2018 WPS Volunteer Awards
The 30th Annual WPS Volunteer Awards were held on the morning of Thursday, April 19, 2018, at the KI Convention Center in downtown Green Bay. The awards program is the result of a partnership between Wisconsin Public Service and the Volunteer Center of Brown County. The WPS Volunteer Awards recognize and celebrate individuals and groups who volunteer in the community for a wide variety of nonprofits. Over 1,700 local volunteers were nominated for one of eight awards sponsored by local businesses. The event is the largest in Brown County that honors the impact that volunteers have in the community. The Greater Green Bay Community Foundation joined in supporting the event by a Community Impact sponsorship, which increased the award amounts to $1,000 for the recipients and $500 for the runners-up (these amounts are gifted to the nonprofits of the winners' choice). The Youth winners receive personal scholarships.
Here are the recipients and runners-up in each of the award categories!
Large Group Award Recipient
Habitat for Humanity – ReStore Volunteers
Founded as a creative funding source for Habitat for Humanity, the ReStore collects donations of used appliances, furniture, building supplies, and other household goods for resale in the shop. Teamwork is at the core of ReStore’s philosophy, and volunteer teams work together in a variety of roles to keep the shop running smoothly. From the Offensive Line, who provides customer service at the front of the shop, to the Defensive Line that assists with picking up and preparing merchandise for sale, the ReStore’s volunteers bring passion and dedication to the shop with them every day.
By assisting with the collection and sale of donated items, volunteers not only support the Green Bay affiliate Habitat for Humanity chapter, but also practice environmental sustainability by recycling and reselling a variety of materials. Since 2009, Habitat for Humanity ReStore has been able to divert an astounding 5.5 million pounds of unwanted product out of landfills. Volunteers also fill a unique role at the shop. The “Metal-Heads” receive special training to process unusable or unsellable items containing metal and sort the scrap metal for recycling. This metal recycling program is run entirely by volunteers and has raised more than $165,000 to support Habitat for Humanity’s home ownership program.
The ReStore’s volunteers are so dedicated that customers often come in looking for a specific person to assist them with their needs. And since the ReStore opened in 2009, its volunteers have picked up, organized, cleaned, processed, and resold more than 50,000 donations and counting! Together, this team of volunteers works hard, has fun, and does a lot of good for those in need in our community.
The Ashwaubenon Press wrote about the ReStore volunteers receiving this award. Read more here.
Large Group Award Runner-Up
Literacy Green Bay – Adult Tutors
Small Group Award Recipient
Warren and Julie Schultz
Warren and Julie are truly “jacks of all trades” when it comes to their work at Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary. Their determination to protect the environment by protecting our wildlife is matched only by their desire to share their knowledge with those around them. Always willing to lend a helping hand, Warren and Julie have served the Wildlife Sanctuary in a variety of roles, including assisting with events, serving as board members for Friends of the Wildlife Sanctuary Guild, and rehabilitating wildlife through the R-PAWS Program. They have even cared for orphaned, injured, or ill wildlife in their home, nurturing them until they are once again able to be released into the wild. According to their nominator, “Our small staff works hard, but cannot accomplish many of the things that Warren and Julie take on just themselves.”
They also take on the role of “jack of all trades” for the Greater Green Bay Habitat for Humanity. For the last 12 years, Warren and Julie have spent more than 4,200 hours on over 100 buildsites. They have been committed to volunteering as crew leaders on their buildsites, a role that includes training and providing guidance for new volunteers. So not only do they have an impact on Habitat homeowners and staff, they have assisted and provided leadership to Habitat’s volunteers. Warren and Julie also have a way of making homeowners feel empowered through the process of building their future home. According to their nominator, “Warren and Julie are genuine and just love to help people in any way they can.” This dynamic duo truly embodies what it means to dedicate one’s life to the service of others.
Small Group Award Runner-Up
Founders Group of the Oral Health Partnership
Arts & Culture Award Recipient
UntitledTown Board and Volunteers
Conceived in October of 2016 and incorporated as an organization in November, the board of UntitledTown had the daunting task of putting together Green Bay’s first-ever literary festival in just six short months. What followed was a truly unprecedented feat that represented the power of dedication and passion to bring a dream to fruition. By February of 2017, the board had exceeded its ambitious fundraising goal of $100,000. And in April, UntitledTown was born, with more than 80 individual literary events taking place at eight different venues in just three days. At its core, the festival aims to foster both reading and writing in Northeast Wisconsin. However, the board quickly discovered that it also had the power to impact the community on a far deeper level by helping young writers find their voice, building community through storytelling, and even providing a tool through which businesses can recruit and retain qualified employees. All told, UntitledTown estimates that more than 5,000 community members were impacted by the festival in 2017. One participant stated, “I’ve spent a good portion of my life wistfully imagining that I could one day be a writer. UntitledTown 2017 lit a spark in me to stop imagining it and start doing it instead.”
The seven board members of UntitledTown volunteered more than 4,000 hours to plan and implement the festival. Representing diverse backgrounds, they shared their expertise to assist with fundraising, marketing, web design, logistics and services, as well as staffing the events. Together, they began a new and beloved tradition that advances the love of literature in our community. Ellen Rosewall, Professor of Arts Management at UW-Green Bay, quantifies the truly miraculous nature of their accomplishments, stating, “I’ve never seen any arts event – not new ones, not well-established ones, not big ones, not small ones – be so flawlessly executed.” This is only the beginning for UntitledTown, and we look forward to seeing what the future holds.
Arts & Culture Award Runner-Up
Cheryl Murphy – Mosaic Arts
Adult Award Recipient
Steve began his work with Literacy Green Bay a decade ago as one of the adult tutors. As a retired math teacher, he was uniquely qualified to work with students who needed assistance with math in order to obtain their GED. He was matched with two students and continued to work with each of them until they not only achieved their GED, but also secured employment. Other instructors in Literacy Green Bay’s Family Literacy program got wind of Steve’s successes and asked for assistance with math instruction, especially because this is a subject area that many learners struggle with. In 2010, Steve became a math tutor in the Children First Family Literacy Program. Since then, he has regularly volunteered two nights a week, patiently tutoring students and providing them with the confidence they need to be successful.
In many ways, Steve’s impact as a volunteer can be felt across our entire community. In today’s economy, having at least a high school credential or GED is a prerequisite for employment. For 95% of the clients served by Literacy Green Bay, math is the subject that they struggle with the most and the testing area that created the biggest obstacle to their being able to pass the GED exam. Steve sticks with his students until they achieve success and says that his greatest pleasure is watching his students walk across the stage at their GED graduation ceremony. His work directly impacts the local economy by enabling more citizens to enter the workforce and, in many cases, enroll in post-secondary education. Though teachers may retire from the classroom, they never retire from sharing their love of learning with those around them. Steve has truly embodied that spirit and says that tutoring the GED students is the reason he gets up every morning in retirement.
Adult Award Runner-Up
Michele Janda – St. John's Homeless Shelter
Youth Award Recipient
Lia was first introduced to Hope House in Manitowoc when she was just nine years old. When she and her mother arrived at the shelter for homeless families, Lia met a young boy who thought the packages she had in her hands were for him – it was his birthday. When Lia asked the director of the shelter if they were planning on celebrating the boy’s birthday, she was heartbroken to learn that the organization did not have the resources to throw him a party or give him gifts. The next day, Lia returned to the shelter, this time carrying a birthday cake, balloons, and a small gift for the boy. And so, the Hopeful Hearts Club was born. Today, Lia keeps a close eye on Hope House’s calendar and throws a birthday party for each of the kids living at the shelter. She gets to know each guest of honor, throwing a unique party around his or her favorite book, movie, toy, or special interest. In almost six years, Lia has never missed a birthday at Hope House.
Under Lia’s leadership, the Hopeful Hearts Club has expanded to celebrate not just birthdays, but holidays, seasons, and even a baby shower for one the shelter’s residents. The Club also assembles Welcome Bags for each child who moves into the shelter, containing hygiene products, a handmade blanket and pillowcase, a nightlight, and a stuffed animal. Lia has actively worked to build relationships with local businesses to support the work of the club and secure donations of cake, food, party supplies, gifts for each of the kids, and even in-kind design and event planning work.
Though she has made an immeasurable impact in the lives of countless kids, Lia remains truly humble about her accomplishments. Shy and reserved when she started the Hopeful Hearts Club, she has blossomed into a young woman who has publicly advocated for Hope House, even helping the organization raise more than $600,000 through the Capital Hope Campaign. With all that she does, Lia embodies the spirit of what it means to be a volunteer. Her nominator put it best when she stated, “She’s not doing it to meet a high school requirement or because all of her friends are doing it – she volunteers because she cares deeply about the kids in our community.”
Youth Award Runner-Up
Andi Krawczyk – Exceptional Equestrians
Education Award Recipient
As the founder and current president of Lakeshore First Robotics, Arrow works to create educational opportunities for students in Manitowoc and surrounding counties centered around science, technology, engineering, and math. With more than 30 robotics teams and hundreds of students involved each year, Lakeshore First Robotics provides students with solid, quantifiable experience in business, marketing, engineering, manufacturing, and programming. Each team is led by a volunteer mentor, and this network of community volunteers, committed to improving education through extracurricular activities, would not be possible without Arrow’s passion and dedication. By complementing the traditional educational system, Arrow and Lakeshore First Robotics have been able to increase the amount of time students are learning and inspire them to work hard and work together.
Not only does Arrow mentor student robotics teams throughout the school year, he also provides leadership for other team mentors and plans regional robotics competitions. Over the last decade, many of the students he has worked with have gone on to higher education and returned to the program to mentor new participants. He truly is creating a legacy of leadership, both within Lakeshore First Robotics and in the community. In addition, Arrow is instrumental in the fundraising, collaboration with school districts, budgeting, and volunteer recruitment necessary to keep the organization thriving.
Arrow truly provides the gift of his time and resources to help the students of Lakeshore First Robotics succeed. Annually, he volunteers more than 500 hours, not including weekend trips to robotics competitions. He is passionate about the work and passionate about helping set students up for success in an evolving technological climate.
Education Award Runner-Up
Joyce Poister – Syble Hopp
Leadership Award Recipient
Roy T. Bennett once said, “Great leaders have vision, share vision, and inspire others to create their own.” Mary Miller has done just that as a volunteer for Encompass Childcare. During her tenure with the organization, she has served in many capacities, including three six-year terms on the Board of Directors, chair of and volunteer for the Big Event for Little Kids, and numerous task force committees. Under her leadership, Encompass was able to accomplish several key goals that have brought the organization into the future and helped them to meet their mission to care for and educate children, giving them the tools they need for success in school. For the thousands of children who have benefited from Encompass’ services over the last 30 years, Mary Miller is an unsung hero.
Mary believes in the power of YES! and inspires others to believe that anything is possible if we are willing to just say yes. Passionate about providing every child the opportunity for success in school through early education, Mary’s work with the Big Event for Little Kids has raised over a million dollars to offset the cost of childcare for families in need. Because of her efforts, parents of all socioeconomic backgrounds can have the peace of mind of knowing that their children are well cared-for and are being given the tools they need to prepare for both their education and their lives.
Mary has helped Encompass navigate through challenges to better serve its children, families, and teachers. As chair of a search committee seeking a location for a center on Green Bay’s west side, Mary found a facility on a bus line, centrally located to serve an area in need of affordable childcare. She also showed great concern for Encompass’ teachers, finding innovative ways to compensate them for their hard work while keeping salaries from raising costs for families.
Leadership Award Runner-Up
Cathy Dworak – Salvation Army
Heart of Gold Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient
As a servant leader, Lori seeks out the needs in our community and works diligently to meet those needs. Since 2010, she has volunteered with Junior Achievement, an organization that partners local teachers with community or business leaders to teach a curriculum on financial literacy, starting a business, or career preparation. In the last eight years, she has gone into 30 classrooms and mentored countless students, filling the void in economic education at an undergrad level. Motivated and engaging, Lori is willing to serve whenever and wherever she is needed. Often, at-risk schools are the most difficult for Junior Achievement staff to find volunteers for, but Lori jumps at the chance to work in those schools because she knows and understands the value in reaching their students. Through the Junior Achievement curriculum, Lori inspires her students to think about their financial futures and to believe that they will be successful. But, perhaps more importantly, she inspires them to lead. By making each student feel as though they are her top priority, Lori adeptly teaches the students to have a healthy relationship with money and with those around them.
After her time in one classroom, a student told Lori that because of her he came to believe that everybody can do something to help the community if they are willing to try. Perhaps without even knowing it, this young man described Lori Cuene perfectly. During her time as a Leadership Green Bay participant, Lori gained a greater understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our community, and saw it as her responsibility to take on those challenges and help find creative solutions to them. Her reach expands beyond Junior Achievement, as she also dedicates her time to Destination Imagination; Mosaic Arts, Inc.; On Broadway; Downtown Green Bay, Inc.; Freedom House; the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon; Girls on the Run; JOSHUA; Young Life; NAMI; and the Brown County Coalition for Prevention of Suicide.
Lori has a rich history of volunteering in the community, and the spirit of volunteerism is something she learned from her parents and grandparents. Today, Lori similarly models the importance of giving back to her two daughters, often making volunteering a family affair. She has taught not only her girls, but also the many students she has worked with over the years, that they have a responsibility to the community and to one another. We can all feel confident that the next generation of engaged citizens will continue to be active in their communities due to Lori’s service.
Heart of Gold Lifetime Achievement Award Runner-Up
Rod Leadley – Exceptional Equstrians
Check out our Facebook page for a full gallery of photos from this amazing event!
Thank You, Sponsors!
The following sponsors continue to be involved in this great event through their generosity and support. The Volunteer Center appreciates the sponsors' recognition of volunteerism within our community.