Ten individuals and one organization were honored for their volunteer service from January to December 2019, during Chandler's eighth annual Volunteer Recognition Breakfast.
The City of Chandler joined with the nonprofit For Our City-Chandler to recognize 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 ten awards.
Individuals who volunteered more than 1,000 hours are pictured at right and include Stan Szarek, Lori Dayton, Betty Ingram, Rea Dias, Rita Kasperski, and Betty Neal.
Below are the 2020 award recipients.
It is so worthwhile for me as a teacher to find meaningful, real-life activities for my 6th graders to engage them. One way I like to engage my 6th graders is by playing the Stock Market Game during the first half of the school year. The students love it, but I am not the most knowledgeable person when it comes to the Stock Market Game. I was thankful to find Nicholas Padula as a volunteer to come in and talk to all 4 of my classes - 92 6th graders.
Nick came in to talk to my students about the Stock Market and man, did their minds just start going! We have played the Stock Market Game for the past 3 years, but this is the first year my students ACTUALLY understand the Stock Market, how to play, how to read the information on the website, and they ask about the Stock Market game daily. My students are learning, having fun, and the excitement that I have seen from my students is refreshing.
Nick reached out to me multiple times asking about my students and has sent me advice over email to share with them. He also came in after fall break to refresh them about the Stock Market and meet with every single group individually to talk to them about their progress in the game. My students are engaged, learning, and excited.. thanks to Nick!
Ted has been a part of the homeless ministry for 10 years in Chandler. He drives all the way from Maricopa twice a week to help them find clothing food comfort compassion showers and a Christian-based message. He drives in on Thursday mornings from Maricopa to take them all to showers and return them wherever they need to go. Ted has been a light in our community for the past 10 years does it with a big smile on his face And is always willing to go the extra mile.
Mario is amazing! It is hard to only select him to one category. I am nominating him for the Makes it Happen Award. My role is as the student council advisor at Casteel High School. Mario is always coming in and asking how he can help. He works with my students on ideas and ways to promote a positive and energizing culture. He volunteers his time and resources into making Casteel a great place to be. His smile and personality is contagious. Students relate to him and listen to his ideas and soak up his energy. He is a person everyone wants to be around. It is not uncommon to find Mario on campus during the day, as well as activities at night.
Adeel is a model student, club member, and officer. He is a co-founder of the PHS club, Reach Higher, based on a nationally recognized initiative created by Michelle Obama that seeks to recognize and support students to further their college and career plans. In Reach Higher, Adeel is the President. His passion for connecting with students, showing them support, and demonstrating his inclusive and open leadership skills builds a fun environment for club members.
Adeel deserves to be recognized because of his dedication to Reach Higher, he spends so much time creating, helping and working with college contacts to come visit PHS. He surveys students to bring/offer college/career prep workshops to campus. He's present 100% at college events, guides volunteers, delegates and oversees most aspects of our events, an example is the PHS College and Career Preview Night. It is a huge night and open to all PHS kids and parents. He makes sure to help the career center and that it goes smoothly.
Thanks to Adeel, the Career Center can bring more opportunities to our students.
Dan is one of the brightest 'volunteers of volunteers' I have been honored to work beside in my 25 plus years of volunteering.
ACTIVITIES: Dan is the primary reason that the RSM program 'Driving Our Veterans' is successful. Dan leads the team, driving (100's) Veterans [Homeless, Low Income & Disabled] to and from non-emergency VA and other Veteran Service organizations. On top of that, Dan is fixing and serving thousands of meals for special needs programs and outreaches in Chandler and other East valley events. Additionally, he is a part of the food programs in Chandler for RSM and For Our City personally delivering thousands of food boxes to needy Chandler families annually. Oh, almost forgot to mention that he steps up and picks up donations for the S.T.U.F.F. Thrift Store that supports all of Resurrection's programs. There is more but I think you get the reason I say Daniel Watson is a worthy candidate for more than one of the awards.
IMPACT/NEED: Annually serving more than 5,000 people personally with services and needs selflessly. With so many other areas of need in the community not sure how they would get done without Dan on our team.
CHALLENGE: Dan is a recovering substance abuser healed through his walk with the Lord. Dan has suffered a spouse loss way too early in his life with her. Overcoming homelessness on the streets through (self-directed) recovery programs. He has had numerous physical setbacks in life and into what should be the 'retired' years he continues to try and do more for people in need.
STORY: I watched and cried as Dan served and cared for (one of many) 'Joni & Friends' wheelchair-bound clients with food at their annual 'walk & roll' lunch, what a heart for others he has.
There's more but I think you get the idea; The Lord will say 'thank you for serving' to this servant on that day in which Dan stands before Him.
Dr. Scott Nelson, a school psychologist, retired from the Mesa Unified School District in the Spring of 2018. However, Dr. Nelson knew that he still had a passion for helping young people and wanted to continue having a positive impact on youth.
In the Fall of 2018, he joined the Willis Junior High School staff as a volunteer and has since put in countless hours mentoring students and supporting our school community. Many of our students face daunting social and emotional challenges and Dr. Nelson has worked hard to help us address these needs by leading students in small group discussions three to four times a week during our lunch periods. These small group sessions are opportunities for students to receive mentoring, share challenges, and develop empathy. Our kids see that they are not alone in the challenges they face and they have the opportunity to build positive relationships with Dr. Nelson and their peers.
This year, working with our parent liaison, Dr. Nelson has also added a small group for our English language learners and refugee students. Many of these students are dealing with their unique trauma and challenges and a small group has been a valuable outlet for them to share, be heard, and receive counseling.
In addition to his work with student small groups, Dr. Nelson takes the time to present his story to all of our seventh-grade classrooms. He discusses the challenges he has experienced after a serious childhood accident that left him without the full function of his legs. He emphasizes perseverance, a growth mindset, empathy, and the importance of understanding and valuing the unique strengths and worth of every person. These presentations have become an integral part of our efforts to foster a positive learning environment where every student feels safe and valued.Dr. Nelson is a regular on our campus. He volunteers his time in our Community Resource Room and assists with a vaping diversion program designed to educate Willis parents and students on the dangers of these devices.
Also, every Friday, Dr. Nelson sets up his laptop and a speaker system in our courtyard and plays music during our lunch periods. He does this to build a positive community, give students an outlet for their energy, and build relationships with the kids on our campus.
Although he is a volunteer, Dr. Nelson has become an integral part of the Willis staff. He is widely recognized by our students and school community and we are grateful for all that he contributes. Dr. Nelson demonstrates a willingness to do anything to support our students, our staff, and our school. He is truly a difference-maker at Willis and in our downtown Chandler community.
From the start, Colleen has had a strong dedication to the Chandler Police Department. Colleen's primary volunteer functions are with our Property & Evidence Section and Criminal Apprehension Unit. In these two areas, Colleen's roles are diverse requiring different sets of customer service roles, in order to get the job done. When volunteering in Property & Evidence she displays her always pleasant and willing personality.
Over the years, with her help, Property & Evidence has been able to accomplish many of its annual goals. One goal was to disposing of the entire backlog items that were ready for disposal. Colleen helped to locate, pull and dispose of the items with the staff. Her help with this project allowed staff to focus on other areas that needed attention.
The other area in which Colleen volunteers is for the Criminal Apprehension Unit, as a Telephone Compliance volunteer. The Telephone Compliance Program was established in an effort to make headway into clearing the rather vast backlog of misdemeanor warrants within the City of Chandler. This program has been extremely successful, year in and out, due in whole to the work of the volunteers who make up the team. The team has dwindled and for over a year, Colleen has been our sole volunteer for the Criminal Apprehension Unit, telephone compliance section. She works hundreds of hours during the year, contacting misdemeanor warrant suspects by telephone, informing them of the status of their warrants, both methods of clearing the warrant, and the consequences of disregarding them.
In each call, Colleen displays her professionalism, determination, and at times, the compassion that makes up these conversations. In the fiscal year 2018/2019, Colleen's efforts led to the clearance of hundreds of City of Chandler warrants, which had a combined bond amount of over $225,368.25. The voluntary compliance generated from Colleen has freed up a great deal of sworn officer duty hours because officers did not have to expend the time and the cost of tracking people down and booking the offenders into jail.
Colleen is an excellent volunteer who believes strongly in giving back to the community. She understands that volunteer service is a balance of individual sense of fulfillment, mutual benefit to the agency and positively impacting the great community. Colleen exemplifies the qualities of a loyal volunteer.
*If selected, I will provide the monetary amount for 2019, rather than the fiscal year.
Ginger Voltmer has been a volunteer with Neighbors Who Care since 2016 and has become one of our most valuable resources. In addition to volunteering with her own homeowner's association, she has performed more than 180 direct services for elderly clients this year with Neighbors Who Care, contributing a great deal of her time & energy to our programs and special projects. We had a very difficult time assigning Ginger a category for her nomination.
She is a multi-tasking maestro, a sunbeam and an innovator with strong arms who's around for the long haul. After some discussion, we decided to nominate her under the 'Sunbeam' category. Her smile is contagious, and her positive attitude is inspiring. She has brandished that smile on every one of more than 180 client services this year which included 130 times grocery shopping for our clients or taking them to shop for themselves.
Her 275 hours of volunteer service is carefully spent making sure they have the items they most need, and then helping them get this precious cargo into their homes and properly put away. Another of Ginger's duties involves driving Neighbors Who Care clients to medical appointments. This can involve anything from taking a frail, homebound senior to a simple follow-up visit to a trip for lifesaving dialysis or chemotherapy treatments. Ginger is known for 'going the extra mile' on these trips, waiting in the doctor's lobby during the appointment or making additional stops for prescriptions on the way home. Mrs. Voltmer is well known for her boundless enthusiasm.
For two consecutive years, she has served on NWC's fall fair planning committee. She has decorated, cooked and even square danced in costume to entertain fairgoers. This year, she not only volunteered to handle all concessions for the fair, but she also inspired two family members to volunteer as well. As if this weren't enough, Ginger devotes every week to answering phones at the Neighbors Who Care office. She helps to schedule transportation, in-home visits, respite care, meal delivery and more for frail, homebound seniors in Sun Lakes and Chandler.
So far this year, she's volunteered more than 300 hours answering important phone calls from neighbors in need. Lastly, Ginger's sister, Valerie was recently a victim of the wildfires in Paradise, CA. Ginger reached out to help and helped her to relocate to Chandler, where she is rebuilding her life with the help of her family. Ginger has a passion for service and a very, very big heart. She serves with a genuine smile and lights up the room wherever she goes.
Moreover, she is a marvelous baker, and regularly brings delicious baked treats to fellow volunteers and office mates. She plans well, works hard and always, always, always offers a smile or encouraging word. A genuine pleasure to work with, we heartily nominate Ginger Voltmer as the city of Chandler's volunteer of the year!
Gretchen and Gary Ukele are vital busy volunteers with About Care as well as Meals on Wheels. They go above and beyond what a normal volunteer would do. For About Care, they do new client intakes as well as provide ongoing help with clients.
Typically after doing an hour visit to sign up a new client, they will take that client on their first service request. They not only provide transportation to our clients but have actually done so much more than that. One of our clients had to move out of her apartment suddenly because they wanted her to get rid of her cats.
Gretchen and Gary found her a new apartment, helped her move and made sure she had the necessities once moved. They are cheerful and reliable and About Care is lucky to have them.
I would like to nominate Anahi Hernandez for the Youth Award. She is a 6th grader at Sanborn Elementary. She is the oldest of three siblings and she is such a caring/loving mother hen helping her mom at home as mom works a lot. She makes sure that her three younger brothers are always doing their homework and are taken care of at school and at home. Anahi greets staff and peers every day, all day, asking how their day is going or just giving a smile and a hello.
There have been many families struggles that she has overcome and continued to keep her positive spirit and her responsibilities as a good citizen, student and caring human being. She is a positive leader and role model to all people on campus and I feel she is the perfect candidate for the Youth Award.