Eleven individuals and one service organization were honored for their volunteer service from January to December 2017, during Chandler's seventh 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 eight awards.
During the event, Pastor Jose P. Gonzalez and Monica Pope were inducted into the 1,000 Hour Club for serving more than 1,000 hours of volunteer work to Chandler organizations.
Below are the 2018 award recipients with a brief recap of the nomination.
Innovation Award: Brings especially creative and unique solutions to the job.
Tom Escobedo has volunteered with ICAN for the past four years. As an innovator and an avid gardener, he revitalized their underutilized garden while getting the ICAN kids involved in all aspects of gardening. He's also helped the kids build a birdhouse and two benches for the garden. He sought out a seed grant on behalf of ICAN from the University of Arizona and to continue his knowledge of gardening and managing the organization's gardening program, he took it upon himself to become a master gardener. Escobedo also created an indoor summer learning program, so kids may continue gardening during the summer heat. In addition, he also runs ICAN's train town, which involves engaging the kids to set up the town, discuss what trains do and run engines around the track.
Longevity Award: Has worked for an organization for many years, and she provides a commitment and dedication to service that is awe-inspiring.
Betty Crawford used to bring her mother to the senior center many years ago. Now she attends the same senior center and has volunteered with the center for more than 20 years. She volunteers with AZCEND's Senior Nutrition program, where she serves meals, helps participants sign in for lunch, greets seniors, and counts money as the treasurer for the Chandler Site Council. In addition, Crawford keeps an eye out for those new to the program to ensure they feel welcome.
Makes It Happen Award: Works for many organizations, with the goal of contributing anywhere and everywhere.
Jim Bishop volunteers his time with a variety of organizations that all support the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD). Since 2010, he has spearheaded the Vote YES for Chandler Students campaign and has volunteered countless hours to preserve the quality education offered through CUSD. Bishop also is committed to developing Arizona College Prep's (ACP) junior high and high school wrestling programs. He is a full-time captain for Southwest Airlines yet he chooses to schedule his flights around ACP's wrestling practice and competition schedule. He has volunteered as the strength and conditioning coach for four years and has been a key component to the prosperity and growth of the program as well as its success. In the past five years, ACP's wrestling team has expanded from one wrestler to 35 athletes, from one state qualifier to nine state qualifiers. Finally, Bishop has played an active role in developing the Arizona College Prep Athletics Booster Club to maximize its ability to support the student-athletes of ACP.
Multitasking Maestro Award: 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.
Faith Dragoon has volunteered with Neighbors Who Care (NWC) since 2015. Last year alone, she provided more than 300 hours of volunteer service. She volunteers as an office scheduler tasked with finding available volunteers to fulfill client service requests, which requires remarkable patience and people skills. Dragoon often fills in at the last minute when other volunteer schedulers are unavailable. She also substitutes as a fill-in receptionist. In addition to her office administrative duties, Faith volunteers on a Community Outreach Committee, where she has taken on the task of providing a presence for NWC at all community events within their service area. She is directly responsible for recruiting more than 70 additional volunteers for NWC this year, as well as finding numerous frail and homebound seniors needing services.
Strong Arms Award: Is not afraid to take on any job, no matter how "down-n-dirty" it may be. This nominee also may be called the jack-of-all-trades in an organization.
William has volunteered with the Chandler Police Department since 2005. He volunteers as a Motorist Assist, a trainer for new motorist assists and is extremely active with the DUI task force. Brewer has consistently worked the Motorist Assist detail two to three nights per month. As a volunteer driver for the Traffic Unit DUI van, he is proficient at completing DUI paperwork and fingerprints for officers processing DUI arrests, which keeps the arrest processing time to a minimum. In 2017 the DUI van was used 14 nights for the Holiday DUI Task Force. Brewer advised he would take any open nights to assure all nights were covered, which resulted in him driving the van most of the nights. Also, he has chosen to use vacation time from his regular employment to volunteer with the DUI Task Force. His service allowed trained officers to remain in an enforcement capacity throughout the night to remove impaired drivers from the roadways.
Sunbeam Award: Is the most cheerful person in the place! They have the best personality, attitude, and they are always smiling and helpful.
Chantal VanKlompenberg makes an impact with a variety of organizations, including Matthew's Crossing Food Bank, For Our City-Chandler, StreetLight USA, Fans Across America, Perry High School and ICAN's Stuffed with Love Boutique. She started the Perry High School Pumas parent-teacher organization, served as president for many years and still champions their causes. She also has built a reputation as a "queen of making silent auction baskets sing" and volunteers her talent for many nonprofits. She makes the purses and jewelry tables at the Stuffed With Love Boutique for the children of ICAN look like a high-end designer store. She helps feed and clothe the homeless on Saturdays. VanKlompenberg is known for her energy and her ability to make it happen.
Youth Award: Is for youth, 17 and younger. The volunteer is dedicated, positive, and hardworking or otherwise stands out from the crowd.
Lois Zozobrado is a young lady with ambition. Not only does she want to work in the music industry, she has a great desire to help people. During her junior year, she started volunteering for the Chandler Center for the Arts. Because she loved it so much, she was inspired to help students get involved in the community. She volunteers for many organizations and is an accomplished singer and performer. She assisted staff with obtaining youth volunteers for a marketing survey that the Center conducted in the fall. She willingly recruited and spent time coordinating the information with the students. It was an enormous benefit to the Center to have these young people conducting the surveys. Zozobrado is now a senior, currently Perry High School's National Honor Society President and Perry DECA Outreach Officer. Both organizations have been involved in the community working with organizations such as ICAN, Team Emery, Feed My Starving Children, and CCPA.
Working Together Award: Is for a group, in any organization, who completed a group volunteer project in Chandler.
The Chandler Lions Club has been serving the Chandler community since 1939. They are responsible for purchasing eyeglasses for local children if they need financial assistance. Being able to see goes hand-in-hand with learning. Club members also provide Santa photos with the City each Christmas holiday and provide 200 Christmas stockings to Clothes Cabin and battered women. The Lions Club also hosts quarterly forums for low-vision community members who need questions answered. They take pride in providing service where there is a need.
Mayor's Choice Award: This award is not subject to nomination, but instead is selected by the Mayor.
Vernon Stewart will eagerly tackle any job in the spirit of serving the Chandler community. He was critical to the success of For Our City Day Chandler, an annual event that brings together hundreds of volunteers to revitalize neighborhoods and bring our community closer. Stewart took on a leadership role in this past year's efforts when he volunteered to serve on the For Our City Day Committee. Additionally, Stewart serves on the Neighborhood Advisory Committee for the City of Chandler, volunteers with Operation Back to School, helped build a playground at Gazelle Meadows Park, readily assists residents in need, and is constantly going to events to engage with people of all backgrounds. He also puts considerable time and effort into fundraising for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. His love for his community shows through in many ways. For one, he always wears his Chandler, Arizona hat on his head and a smile.
SooSan Stevens-Clarke is involved in a multitude of organizations, including the Chandler Horizon Rotary Club, Chandler Baha'i Community and the Chandler Domestic Violence Commission. She also serves on the For Our City Task Force, YMCA Day of Prayer Planning Commission, Children's Benefit Week Without Violence Peace Poster and Poetry Contest held in October, and the Integrated Health Clinic, which is held in February and October. Stevens-
Clarke works to make the world a better place through her service and provides a level of detailed organization that helps every organization she touches operate more smoothly.
People's Choice Award: The recipient of this award was chosen from more than 1,000 online votes and combined with votes cast by those in attendance at the awards breakfast.
For the past three years, Fernando has volunteered with SSPF as a mentor and coach to elementary and junior high school robotics teams. A junior at Chandler High School, Fernando has provided SSPF with more than 3,500 hours of community service. As a mentor and coach, he teaches kids how successfully fabricate land, air and underwater robots. Last year, Fernando coached a high school robotics team that qualified in their region and earned a birth to the state championships. He also facilitated a summer STEM program for Chandler Unified School District's Destination College and helped teach Chandler and Phoenix educators how to build a LEGO robot and an underwater robot.