2021 Volunteer Recognition Award Winners

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 10 awards. 

 

Jon Lyons |  Sun Lakes Rotary Club 

Jon is the President of the Sun Lakes Rotary Club and had lead us through the COVID19 pandemic. He has kept our membership strong by keeping our Zoom meetings on schedule each week. We have even started to add new members and we now able to attract a higher caliber of speakers because of our new meeting formats.The Sun Lakes Rotary Club has also been able to maintain all of our charitable service projects including Teacher of Month for teachers in Chandler and installing community closets in select schools throughout Chandler. A new program that we have been able to start is a Chandler chapter of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library that provides books to new born children through age 5 at no cost to the family.

 

Betty Ingram | AZCEND 
etty Ingram is a long time volunteer in AZCEND's Food Bank. Throughout the 2020 pandemic, she helped multiple times a week to provide nutritious food to people in need. She helped coordinate volunteers to pack the holiday food boxes that were given out in November and December.

 

Lori Dayton |  AZCEND 
Lori Dayton is a long time volunteer with AZCEND's Food Bank. She helps with data entry, tracking donations, instructing volunteers, and many other tasks that keep the Food Bank running smoothly. She volunteered 1130 hours in 2020.

 

Joseph Jackson |The Salvation Army, Chandler Corp 
Mr. Joe, as we call him, volunteers in our food pantry each day. For many years he has prepared food boxes, unloaded delivery trucks, collected donations from area restaurants, and loaded groceries for families. Mr. Joe is a faithful, steady, encouraging part of our team. When the Covid pandemic began, he did not alter his schedule, despite being in a 'high risk' demographic. He understood the increased need as more and more families were impacted by illness and job loss. We are so very grateful for his commitment to, and compassion for the people of Chandler. His love for Jesus and people is evident in all he does.

Susan Stevens-Clarke saw a special on the news about the tremendous need for food in our community. During the pandemic, she saw people who were working, but struggling to meet needs and she started thinking about the people who do not have jobs or homes and how great their needs may be.

In August 2020, she connected with AZCEND's I-HELP program to help feed the homeless. She coordinated with the Chandler Horizon Rotary Club to host one meal a month and she organized the 'Global Girlfriends' to host a second meal each month. The 'Global Girlfriends' is a group of her friends from all around the world who live here locally. Susan wants the I-HELP guests to feel like they are at her house and she is serving them. Each meal is themed and made special by meals being served homestyle, the menu printed and displayed for the guests, napkins and cutlery tied with a ribbon and tablecloths used.

She asks herself 'If it was me, what would I like to eat?  and is very conscientious of dietary preferences. She likes to provide a wide variety of foods which is easy with each of the 'Global Girlfriends' taking turns making the main dish and everyone adding side dishes. Because every meal is made with care, she makes every I-HELP guest feel special.

For the last 35 years Marguerite Deardorff's friends and family know that Mondays are her 'library day' and that if they plan something during her volunteer shift processing new library books, she will decline the invitation. She has a tremendous amount of dedication to her volunteer service and sees it as giving back, recognizing what libraries have done for her and her family over the years. 

She didn't have access to a public library in her community until she was married but did volunteer as a senior in her high school library.  As an avid reader, having 2-3 books going at the same time, the Chandler Public Library is very much a part of Marguerite's life and has been for quite some time. Marguerite and her family moved to Chandler in 1962. She worked at Chandler High School as the secretary to the assistant principal and athletic department from 1969-1980. 

Marguerite started volunteering for Chandler Public Library in 1986 at the Rocky Mountain Building.  During her time as a volunteer, she has seen four new libraries built in Chandler and processed thousands of books for the Library. Volunteer service records estimate her 35-year contribution at more than 4,700 hours of service to the Library. During Marguerite's volunteer time at the Library, she helped establish the Friends of the Chandler Public Library Gift Shop. 

During those first days of the gift shop, the Friends of the Library had to borrow shelves from the Chandler Women's Club in order to display merchandise.  When the Women's Club needed their shelves for events during the year, Marguerite and the other volunteers would have to box up all of the merchandise and put it all away until the Women's Club brought back the shelves! 

Marguerite has seen lots of changes to the Library and Chandler during her time as a volunteer and long-time resident.  In addition to her work processing new books for library patrons, she is an ambassador for the Library in the community, sharing her message that 'Libraries are so important. It isn't just about reading, but all of the things that libraries do for the community.' 

Chandler Public Library is honored to nominate Marguerite Deardorff for the For Our City Longevity Award in gratitude for her long-standing service in support of the Library and life-long literacy in the community.

 

Rambha Singh supports a variety of charity organizations, including St. Mary Food Bank, ASHA, Pratham USA, Sewa International and the India Association of Phoenix. She is the founder and president of Rajput Association of North America in Arizona.

During COVID, she led various community service projects in Arizona through her Rajput members and their young kids- $2,700 fundraisings for COVID, helped three stranded Indian families for three months with food and essential supply, making and supplying 15,000 masks for the community, 1200 lbs. food drive for United Food Bank and recently helped elders getting vaccinated.

As a volunteer with a huge support base, Rambha makes a huge impact to the success of any volunteering or charity events. She leads from the front and motivates her organization members to follow and support in all activities she is asked to help on or ones she undertakes herself. She has been part of the Chandler Diversity council and engages the City of Chandler in her community outreach events.

Rambha runs a Salon/Day spa and Indian Restaurant in Chandler and donates from her business to local charities.

 

While on her way to a recent appointment to see a new eye doctor, our client, Lael--who is a 95-year old Chandler resident--said she was feeling very anxious. She was told months before by another doctor that she would likely lose her eyesight in a year's time. She was afraid of what this new doctor was going to tell her. 'I was antsy,' Lael says, 'but my funky mood was turned around by my Neighbors Who Care driver, Mary.

he was extremely friendly and positive and very, very cheery!' Lael continues, 'She listened to me and was so affirming. She helped me feel so much better about my situation. And it turns out that she was right! I had nothing to worry about!'

Lael's example is one of many that we hear about our volunteer, Mary Ernst. Mary has been volunteering with Neighbors Who Care since 2017. She offers her services as a volunteer driver several times a month and has given nearly 400 hours of her time as a volunteer. Mary is always eager to help our clients who are predominantly homebound seniors in South Chandler/Sun Lakes and living in their own homes with no one else around to help them.

As we all know, it has been especially challenging this past year trying to find available volunteers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But Mary has been right there willing to help our clients. And, she goes above and beyond to drive them to appointments in long-distance locations. It is never a problem for her to drive into Phoenix or up to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale for any of our clients.

In fact, she will specifically ask for those assignments because she knows that not every volunteer is able to drive those long distances. Neighbors Who Care Administrative Director Verna Mahnke describes Mary this way: 'Mary is a happy person. Always laughing. I'd say she's really jolly!' Verna adds, 'It's my impression that Mary really enjoys those long-distance drives because she gets to spend more time visiting and having fun with clients.

She just loves being with people! Mary is also very genuine in her desire to volunteer. Even when going through her own knee and hip replacements, Mary expressed her desire to heal quickly so she could get back to volunteering.

According to Verna, Mary's attitude is always one of service. 'When our volunteer Office Schedulers call on Mary for an assignment,' Verna says, 'they are always greeted on the phone with a super friendly 'Hello! How can I help? Tell me if you have any long-distance drives available.'' What a blessing it is to have someone who is so willing to help those who truly need it.

And if any more convincing is needed about whether Mary is deserving of the Sunbeam Award, just ask our client, Lael. 'She REALLY, REALLY, REALLY qualifies for this award,' Lael says. 'I'd give an A++ to her!'

 

Eram Khan is a gem to our American Muslim Women's Association (AMWA) nonprofit organization. She undertakes a variety of jobs many not originally assigned to her. As treasurer, she has so many financial tasks to oversee from case management, emergency financial assistance applications, budget reports, documenting donations and expenses, handling banking transactions, monitoring our storage unit, etc. And Eram has an important integral voice in executive discussions on all programs and initiatives.

Eram is responsible for promoting the $1,000 Educational Scholarship program for local women, solely vetting all applications every year and getting required documents from applicants and promptly presenting all collected data to board members for blind voting. Eram is the liaison for AMWA's RISE Refugee Tutoring Program (Refugee Integration, Stability, and Education).  She communicates with ASU tutors who work with local schools to assist refugee children in schoolwork and in life lessons. AMWA saw a need for laptops for underserved local students.  

We recently budgeted for this new program and Eram searched, purchased, and delivered 21 Chromebooks to date to deserving students. AMWA provides interest-free car loans and on occasion donates cars to those in need. Eram arranges for all such loans, interviews applicants, recruits community members to check out donated cars for safety and smooth operation, and fundraises to help the applicant cost remain zero.  

Needless to say, Eram, as the longest attending board member in our organization, is naturally our historian full of fun facts and amazing local color about our nonprofit from more than two decades of community service. How she ended up with all these roles is easy as she is willing to give of her time, effort, and energy to AMWA. Eram volunteers her time (as do all AMWA board members), tackles a multitude of roles in our organization and is a dedicated and hardworking role model for us all to treasure. Indeed, she is the definition of a multitasking maestro.

Juan Te Dailey volunteers and runs a non-profit in the community called Dsquared homes for the homeless. The Teen Unity Board partners with this organization very frequently, when we partner Juan Te is always at the helm of the ship steering us all in the right direction.

She is always a hard worker and is NOT scared to get her hands dirty to get what needs to get done done. Homelessness is a growing concern in the state of Arizona and nationwide, Juan Te's organization works to provide proper housing for the homeless as well as providing hygiene bags and care items to get them through the day.

No matter the problem Juan Te finds a way to fix it whether that be no storage for donations or too many needs for bags and not enough manpower to fill them. One time while picking up donations from Juan Te she had her entire backyard FULL of items that needed to be put away. I said to her “have enough room?” she says “ALWAYS” she is always ready to work and never shies away from it.

Sue Mayo has volunteered with AZCEND's Food Bank since October 2019. She volunteers consistently three days a week and in 2020 gave over 540 hours to feed those in need during the pandemic!  Although with a mask, you cannot see her smile, her eyes 'smile' and her cheerfulness makes every volunteer feel welcome at the Food Bank.  During her shift, she uses at least one pun that always gets a chuckle.

She also has a costume for every holiday and loves to celebrate with chocolate. She is an amazing baker and loves to treat the volunteers with homemade goodies. She also paints rocks with inspirational messages that she gives to staff and fellow volunteers. She rallies the volunteers on Friday mornings, which is our busiest time in the Food Bank. She makes volunteers feel special by pointing out specific things the volunteer did that impacted the community.

Zovio's Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program drives a positive impact in the community and forms meaningful relationships with nonprofit partners. We're proud to offer sixteen hours of paid time off to volunteer per year so our employees can support 501(c)(3) organizations. All told, in 2020, Zovio employees volunteered 5,100 hours in the community both virtually and in-person and 12 employees totaled more than 100 hours of volunteering during the year!

The employees and programs that give back on behalf of Zovio are collectively known as Z Crew. Our submissions for the Working Together Award will highlight the volunteer activities and needs Z Crew addressed in the community during 2020. Volunteering: Due to COVID-19, Zovio focused on creating a holistic environment to support our strong culture of volunteerism, provided virtual volunteering opportunities, and hosted safe in-person volunteering events when possible.

We understood the difficulties of getting employees engaged during the pandemic, so we focused on building confidence and creating awareness in partnership with nonprofit leaders. In April, the CSR team held a webinar with industry experts Sarah Hayes, Director of Advocacy and Partnerships at VolunteerMatch and Jenny Lawson, Chief Civic Innovation Officer at Points of Light, to discuss the benefits of virtual volunteering and how to safely volunteer in-person during COVID-19.

Virtually, our employees volunteered with our nonprofit partner, Jobs for Arizona's Graduates (JAG), by supporting their 2020 virtual Career Development Conference. Employees volunteered to be judges in a student competition that emphasizes career skills to secure employment or pursue higher education after graduation. In-person, 45 Zovio employees participated in the City of Chandler's For Our City Day. We were able to help beautify four seniors' homes by landscaping, painting, and planting trees. We were able to do this safely, socially distanced and in masks.

Community Needs: Zovio stepped up to address many of our community's needs due to the pandemic while continuing to support nonprofit organizations that are providing Opportunities for All and Learning Beyond the Classroom. This includes: Donating $25,000 to the Arizona Coronavirus Relief Fund, which provides personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers, supports local nonprofits, and helps students access technology to support distance learning. Sponsoring the Chandler Chamber of Commerce's #BusinessStrong COVID-19 relief program.

Providing executive leadership and supplements to the Chandler Unified School District to support virtual learning for students as they transitioned to online learning. Holding our annual United Way Workplace Campaign with Valley of the Sun United Way. The campaign yielded a total of $60,306. Many of those donations went to COVID-19 relief support. Hosting a food drive in partnership with Kitchen on the Street to support their Need Bags of Hope program.

Zovio employees donated enough food to create 261 meals for local school children. Donating laptops to the Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation's Community Laptop Drive to support K-12 students who lacked technology at home to continue the school year virtually. Partnering with Valley of the Sun United Way and Waymo autonomous driving service to participate in a holiday food drive that supported families facing food insecurity during COVID-19. Zovio employees donated nearly 1,000 food items.
 

As a natural-born leader, Loralei has always been one to push for change. The Arizona Connections Academy junior saw first-hand how Arizona's LGBTQ+ community is impacted by bullying, harassment, and discrimination; perplexed by inaction, she knew she had to do something. Loralei joined her school's Gender-Sexuality Alliance Club where she realized the lack of support her classmates received from their community. She went on to join GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Educational Network) Phoenix's SHINE team where she volunteered with students and educators in Chandler and other regions of Maricopa County to encourage LGBTQ+ equality in schools. She has volunteered to plan community events, such as the annual Breaking the Silence Dance, and leads informational sessions to Arizona educators on LGBTQ+ matters, helping GLSEN Phoenix reach over 500+ educators in the Phoenix area.    

Empowered, Loralei created Queer on Campus, a student-led organization that encourages the safety, support, and success of LGBTQ+ students in secondary and higher education. QOC works with student volunteers to spread awareness, lobby for policy changes, and host events in efforts to create a safe and comfortable environment for LGBTQ+ students to learn. She currently acts as Executive Director of this organization, networking with sponsors, allies, other organizations, and communicating with elected officials and the community.

She has also volunteered for other organizations, such as HER:Empowered, which promotes women's engagement in politics and acts as the Arizona State Chair of Project 9, a youth-led organization that aims to increase civic involvement. She has successfully advocated for policy changes, shadowed Arizona State Senators, and discussed policy with Arizona's educational officials. Loralei hopes to encourage other youth to use their voices to speak out about important issues.

Loralei is an active part of her school community, volunteering as a member of the National Honors Society, mentoring younger students as a Peer Tutor, and serving as Student Council President in which she acts as a representative of student needs to school administrators and helps organize numerous school events, such as a food drive for St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank and assemblies.

Loralei's contributions to supporting LGBTQ+ allowed her to become a recipient of the University of Arizona's FMI Institute Youth Vision Award and Junior Achievement's 18 Under 18 Award. She plans on continuing to volunteer and serve within her community with hopes of creating a positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ youth.