Volunteer Recognition Awards

Valley Christian High School Volunteers 2019

The City of Chandler and For Our City-Chandler are excited to present the annual Chandler Volunteer Recognition Awards in honor of the tremendous impact and contributions volunteers bring to our community.

Faith-based groups, nonprofits, schools, businesses and any other group with volunteers were encouraged to nominate individuals for one of eight Chandler Volunteer Recognition Awards. Also, all volunteers with more than 1,000 hours received a lapel pin and certificate from the Mayor. Volunteers with more than 100 hours will receive a certificate from the Mayor.


  • Chandler Mayor's Youth Comission (Secretary/Board Member)
  • Girl STEMpowerment (President/Co-Founder)
  • Arizona Sustainability Alliance (Project Lead)        

Nikita Bharati is a shining example of what the greater community needs. For instance, her character and work ethic make her the perfect leader to stand at the forefront of a revolution in STEM. She's part of a small minority of students who demonstrates a genuine passion for the field, one that has translated into a number of admirable efforts to make space for the underrepresented and marginalized in STEM. I am a mere bystander to her many endeavors, and from my point of view, she handles a seemingly overwhelming amount of work with ease and drive that I can only envy.

For example, as Co-President of Science is Fun, a club that empowers youth with various scientific demonstrations, she presented science presentations across the state at elementary schools and community events. But what Nikita does outside of the classroom far exceeds the expectations of a high school student. She is the president and Co-Founder of Girl STEMpowerment, an international organization that combats gender bias and toxic stereotypes within STEM with inclusive activities and events. These events, whether they're an all-girls math tournament or workshops covering a number of STEM fields, are inherently empowering experiences.

Currently, I am the Co-Operations Manager of the organization, and I always see just how much these girls look up to Nikita and the other volunteers there. What she's done with these workshops creates a space for girls to simply explore their interests in various STEM fields without the burden of self-doubt or social stigmas.

Nikita's impact on the community is felt outside of Girl STEMpowerment. She demonstrates an aptitude for exposing those that are barred from or lack the resources to engage in STEM. She currently works with the Arizona Sustainability Alliance and Microsoft to integrate environmental science and technology into low-income schools. Students have the opportunity to work with 'food computers': specialized in growing chambers that incorporate robotic systems to monitor and modify plant growth. Additionally, as the team lead of Arizona Youth Climate Strike, she provides young adults the knowledge and resources to engage in climate activism, be it by getting connected with state representatives or organizing events like cleanups and strikes.    

Finally, Nikita has a strong passion for civics and works to engage her fellow peers with their government and city. Over the past four years, she has worked with the Chandler Mayor's Youth Commission where she has served as secretary and board member to make recommendations to City Council regarding youth in Chandler, Arizona. In this role, she has developed critical leadership skills and engaged in community service and fundraising events to support youth in my region.  

I know of no one else more qualified for this award. Nikita Bharati is an inspiration to her co-workers and peers, myself included, for the work she's done for our community and the opportunities she's provided across it. She has accomplished so much in only her first two years of high school that I can't even begin to imagine what her future holds, but I know the world can only benefit from it.

  • For Our City - Let's Pull Together
  • For Our City Day       

Joe has been an incredible asset to many of For Our City's programs, including Let's Pull Together and For Our City Day. Joe is the type of volunteer that will take on a project no matter how large or small, from helping a disabled resident clean up her alley to mobilizing his church to be involved with For Our City Day.

He is a go-to volunteer that will take on any task and complete it with professionalism and compassion. We recently had a resident that reached out that has a broken air conditioner, but she did not qualify for our Emergency Home Repair program. She is battling cancer and due to her medical bills, she was unable to pay to fix her A/C. This resident had been in our queue for quite some time, and Joe took on this project knowing how big of a task it might become. He was able to mobilize his congregation to get funding for a new A/C unit for this resident and to ensure that she has working heat once winter rolls around.

He is an amazing asset to For Our City and the larger Chandler community and is the perfect example of the Strong Arms Award.

  • Willis Junior High School (CUSD)     

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.


  • Chandler/Gilbert YMCA
  • About Care

Stan Szarek joined the YMCA in 2008.  In 2010, he started subbing afterward he then began regularly teaching the Adult Circuit class on Fridays.  Two years later, he expanded his course to three days a week two sessions per day due to demand for the course.

Typically, his courses would average 26 members a day and more than 350 members per month.  Stan is dedicated to both growing and sustaining the Group Fitness of our Community of Seniors.  Stan has impacted the YMCA in such a positive manner. 

You would imagine that he is an employee of the YMCA through the dedication he exhibits but only resides as a volunteer.  He reaches the older community and makes it encouraging by choosing music that they favor.  This leads them to be inspired to interact in his course and wish to proceed even further. The exercise area at times turns into a group karaoke session. 

Through all his inspiring work and effort, we believe from the YMCA that he deserves to receive the Longevity Award.

Nomination Categories

All volunteers with more than 1,000 hours will get a lapel pin and certificate from the Mayor.

This nominee brings creative and unique solutions to the job. Please share an example of the nominees on the job resourcefulness.

This nominee has worked for an organization for many years; they provide a commitment and dedication to their service that is awe-inspiring.

This nominee works for many organizations, with the goal of contributing anywhere and everywhere, in any way they can.

This nominee is someone who takes on a diverse array of multiple assignments, jobs or objectives at the same time and can juggle them effectively, while accomplishing all of them successfully.

This nominee is not afraid to take on any job no matter how “down-n-dirty” it may be. This nominee may also be called the “jack/jill-of-all-trades” in an organization.

This nominee is the most cheerful person in the place. They have the best personality, attitude, and they are always smiling. Their mere appearance brightens the area around them.

This award is for a group (in any organization) who completed a group volunteer project in Chandler.

This nominee is strictly for youth, 17 and younger. This nominee can be dedicated, positive, and hardworking or somehow stand out among others.

1,000 Hour Club

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

  • Ricardo Felix, Chandler Traditional Academy
  • Helen Gonzales, About Care
  • Rea Dias, About Care
  • Betty Ingram, AZCEND
  • Svetlana Todorov, Intel
  • Michael Duran, Intel
  • Caryn Shoemaker, About Care*
  • Lori Dayton, AZCEND*

Last year's volunteers were chosen for service from January to December 2018. 

*Repeat Inductee

Looking for places to volunteer

View a list of current volunteer opportunities through For Our City-Chandler.

Volunteer programs like For Our City-Chandler have the purpose of helping coordinate service needs of the City of Chandler and non-profit organizations with the service resources of faith-based communities, employers, business groups, and others in the Chandler area. Learn more about For Our City-Chandler