2024 Winners

Ten individuals and one organization were honored for their volunteer service from January to December 2023.

The City of Chandler recognized the contributions of time and dedication made each day by committed volunteers. Organizations, including the faith-based, nonprofits and schools that rely on volunteers were encouraged to nominate individuals with service primarily in Chandler for one of 10 awards.

1,000+ Hour Club

This exclusive club includes individuals who volunteer for more than 1,000 hours in one year.

  • Sanju Timilsina, Nepalese and Friends Association
  • Jean Borchert, AZCEND
  • Sheri Canales, AZCEND
  • Bob Hilbert, AZCEND
  • Esther Orona, AZCEND
Ariana Rahman

Ariana has been actively involved in addressing food insecurity among refugee families through her organization of food packing and distribution events.

Ariana spearheaded initiatives for packing and distributing food to refugee families, showcasing her dedication to community service. She introduced the idea of creating child-friendly cities to Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke and discussed further steps with UNICEF USA staff. As a youth representative for UNICEF USA, she united all UNICEF USA clubs in Arizona to work with local and state entities on critical issues, including the prohibition of child marriage and the establishment of child-friendly cities. Ariana aims to roll out the UNICEF Child-Friendly City initiative throughout Arizona, guided by the Rights of the Child framework.








Ken Hawkes

During Ken's 21 years of service to the Chandler Police Department, he has volunteered over 17,800 hours. Quantifying his incredible contribution over the years demonstrates his heart to serve and his passionate support of the Chandler community and the Chandler Police Department.

Ken became a Volunteer in Policing (VIP) Motorist Assist (MA) on August 26, 2002. He has been a huge advocate for the Motorist Assist program over the years, recommending new equipment options and training opportunities. Ken's adaptability to learn and apply the newest technology has allowed him to remain an impactful member of our team. Some of his Motorist Assist duties have included processing abandoned vehicles, taking lock-out calls, jumping dead batteries, helping with traffic control at accident scenes and downed power events, patrolling City water and airport facilities, and conducting vacation watches upon request. He has been a reliable and consistent member of the team regardless of weather conditions. The officers he works with know they can depend on Ken for assistance. In addition to his MA duties on the road, he has trained and mentored incoming Motorist Assistants and has also been a team lead.




Mary Belding

For the last two years, Mary has shared her time and talents at Chandler Public Library as a volunteer Read to Succeed tutor dedicating two days a week to meet with first-grade students after school to ensure they are ready to read. Initially, Mary volunteered in a more clerical capacity at the Library, assisting at the Basha location. She heard staff talking about the need for Read to Succeed tutors and wanted to know more.

The need for high-quality literacy programs is evident and Chandler Public Library's Read to Succeed program meets those needs through the generous time shared by our adult volunteer tutors. Due to a shortage of volunteers, staff was placing substitutes and looking for a new volunteer for the group of first graders. At the same time, Mary Belding was volunteering as a tutor at the Basha Library and had only one student. Mary was aware that the three students at the Downtown Library were without a volunteer tutor. She wanted to be where the need was. With the gracious help from another Basha volunteer who added her single student into her group, Mary transferred to the Downtown Library so those three children could continue to make gains with their reading skills. Mary has settled into her new space with her new students and will be with them through the remaining sessions this school year. The families had fully committed to helping their children improve their reading and it was 100% due to Mary's involvement that these children could complete the program at the Library.




Ellen Harrington

Ellen Harrington started Chandler-Tullamore Sister Cities fifteen years ago and has made an indelible mark on the Chandler and AZ Irish community since. For over ten years, Ellen has spearheaded the student exchange program between students in Chandler and Tullamore, Ireland which has welcomed dozens of students to Arizona and sent the same to Ireland.

Given the ties between Chandler-based companies like Intel, PayPal, and Microchip sending ex-pats to Arizona, resulting in Maricopa county having the 4th largest Irish population in the United States, this connection is essential to the diverse community of Chandler. Her volunteer efforts have resulted in economic development initiatives, youth exchanges, art and culture exchanges, and Chandler's exposure to an international market.Ellen also joined the Board of Trustees for the Irish Cultural and Learning Foundation (DBA Irish Cultural Center and McClelland Library) in 2021, bringing further connection to Phoenix and Chandler and other cities through the Arizona-Irish Sister Cities programs (six in total). Ellen is a master connector whose passion for both Irish heritage and the City of Chandler combines to perfectly position her for success in these roles. Her volunteer efforts cannot be overlooked nor diminished in their impact to the community.

Tom Jones

Tom is a service-minded person. He assists clients by transporting them to medical appointments or shopping three or four times each week. He also supplies small home repair services to our clients as well as help with computers and phones as well. We have amazing people helping our clients and Tom is definitely one of them. However, Tom spent 30-plus years in the newspaper industry as an IT professional.

He has wasted no time in jumping in to serve as our de facto volunteer IT Manager. He has also helped with a community-based citrus fruit-gleaning campaign that picks ripe fruit and helps distribute it to food banks and needy seniors. When Tom is not picking citrus or helping clients, he has shored up some system work in the offices of Neighbors Who Care, backed up our network and installed new firewalls. Currently, he is also working on the phone system and setting up new employees on systems and providing their technology onboarding. Tom's work with Chandler clients helps more of Chandler's neighbors remain in their homes for up to five years longer because of the services of transportation he provides. Tom credits his heart for service to his dad.





Shaunna Risinger

Shaunna has been volunteering for many organizations since her youth. Starting with Jr. ROTC and as a volunteer firefighter-EMT in her youth, her volunteerism continues to this day, serving not only our Chandler community, but the state of Arizona, and the United States. Locally, she has been a key volunteer for the Blake's Miracle Foundation which raises money to keep the critical music and child­life services in our local hospitals, along with arranging a toy drive each holiday season.

She has also served in a volunteer capacity for both the Drowning Prevention Coalition of Arizona and the National Drowning Prevention Alliance over many years. She has walked with other City of Chandler residents in the Water Walk, and also for the Arizona Burn Foundation to ensure City of Chandler residents are knowledgeable and safer when it comes to water and fire safety. Most recently, Ms. Risinger has served on the Chandler High School's executive committee for the swim and dive booster club, and has volunteered for their dance program and for their most recent musical. She was also a selectee for the Chandler Rise program - taking degreed professionals, willing to make a career change to address the teacher shortage, and turning them in to teachers. She has donated many hours to being a successful candidate for this program. She has and continues to fearlessly tackle any volunteer assignment, regardless of its challenging or hands-on nature. She has volunteered in various capacities - all of which have had significant impact on so many. This alone truly embodies an adventurous spirit and an unwavering commitment to getting the job done, even when it involves tasks that may be considered down-n-dirty. Her readiness to roll up their sleeves and take on any challenge is shown not only in the vast array of organizations for which she has volunteered, but most prominently when saying yes, and answering the call to become a teacher.

Patti Painter

Patti has been an active volunteer and a fixture at the Center for the Arts for over eight years now, completing over 1,500 hours of volunteer service and counting! She was nominated for the Sunbeam Award because her continuously positive attitude, ever-friendly visage, cheerful words and dedication to outstanding customer service truly lights up the Center every time she is present!

Always quick to say hello to staff, and other volunteers, she freely offers hugs and views of her sweet grandbaby’s latest pictures or videos to cheer your day. She also keeps the CCA informed of and encourages us all to celebrate such cheerful holidays as National Hug Your Friend Day, National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, and National Backyard Day by bringing in treats, dressing up to celebrate (as much as our dress code allows) and sharing personal stories related to each special day.







Ben Pollard

Ben works as a realtor for a Sun Lakes-based Redeemed Team company. The group pulled together 18-plus different realtor companies and more than 30 individual realtors that do business in south Chandler and Sun Lakes to form Realtors Who Care and they sponsor, fund, transport clients, and host fun luncheons together for SO-plus of the most vulnerable home-bound clients at Neighbors Who Care.

These clients rarely leave their homes and look forward to these outings in spring, fall and Christmas time. Additionally, he also helps folks with light bulbs, smoke alarms and other jobs requiring a ladder for the team's Stay Off the Ladder program for the elderly. He's also volunteered at Paz de Cristo, Phoenix rescue mission, Feed My Starving Children, at Chandler Brookdale in the Alzheimer's unit playing games with the Alzheimer's patients, and he keeps homeless bags in his car to hand out to the homeless people. Ben and Realtors Who Care identified the clients who were healthy enough to be transported to the luncheon location. The group of realtors pitched in and arranged catering. Then, the group called all the invitees and scheduled transportation with the realtors providing the transportation. Games, delicious food, gifts, and prizes were all part of each gathering. Some of these clients of this event organized and hosted, in part, by Ben Pollard, had not been out of the house since COVID and one guest sent a thank you note to say it was the first social event she had attended in five years! The impact was huge as the clients visited, made new friends, and enjoyed the company of others.



Kai Miles

Kai Miles is a nine-year-old volunteer for About Care. He helps with seniors by getting them groceries, and medications and just being cheerful and there for whatever they might need. He also helps out with Volunteer recruitment and health fairs. Kai is an amazing young man and starting so young to give back to his community. The impact he has is undeniable. He lifts the spirits of all around him and we are so grateful for his help.

The challenge is that he has to do that after school or on the weekends but his demeanor is so welcoming, kind and the sort of things people need in their day. The Team at About Care thinks Kai is one of the best volunteers they have had.