RICHMOND – Governor Ralph Northam recognized the recipients of the 2018 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards during an awards ceremony held at the Executive Mansion yesterday evening. The annual awards program spotlights the outstanding efforts individual volunteers and organizations make on behalf of citizens throughout the Commonwealth.
“I am pleased to recognize this year’s Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Award recipients, who serve as wonderful examples of how we can all positively impact our communities,” said Governor Northam. “Their selfless acts have made a difference in so many lives across Virginia.”
Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS) Commissioner Duke Storen also congratulated this year’s winners, noting “Volunteerism impacts the lives of so many families and individuals in need of assistance and support. Virginia is a better place to live and work because of the service and dedication of our volunteers within their respective communities.”
VDSS Director of Volunteerism and Community Services Gail P. Harris added, “As we honor this year’s award recipients, we also recognize and thank the two million Virginians who volunteer across the Commonwealth each year and put their caring spirit into action by giving generously of their time and talents.”
The awards ceremony was organized by the Office on Volunteerism and Community Services, in partnership with the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism and the Virginia Service Foundation. These organizations are charged by the Governor with recognizing Virginians who have significantly contributed to the life and welfare of the Commonwealth and its citizens.
Winners of the 2018 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards are:
Outstanding Community Organization: Dogs on Deployment, Newport News
The Hampton Roads chapter of Dogs on Deployment assists military members and veterans in finding free temporary homes for their pets during times of deployment, hospitalization, training, homelessness, and other circumstances. In just three years, they have become the largest chapter in the country with more than 200 volunteers across the region.
Outstanding Faith-Based Organization: Spring Hill Baptist Church, Blackstone
Spring Hill Baptist Church has launched a wide variety of local initiatives to bridge divides and bring together diverse groups in their small town of Blackstone. Spring Hill is leading the change to improve their community – from conducting food and school supply drives to hosting a church security program.
Outstanding Corporation: RRMM Architects, Chesapeake
Throughout the year, volunteers from RRMM Architects donate countless hours to Virginia Beach City Public Schools and the Virginia Beach Education Foundation. Their staff utilizes their talents and skills by volunteering to work with students in the planning and design of major projects. Most recently, students collaborated on a major renovation project, the Old Donation School building. Students were consulted to explore various innovative building practices – from sustainable building practices to STEM concepts.
Outstanding Education Organization: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Alumni Richmond Chapter, Richmond
The VCU Richmond Alumni Chapter has made volunteering their key priority. One of their largest efforts, the Alumni Charity Challenge, benefiting FeedMore, has collected nearly 79,000 pounds of canned goods. Another effort, Operation Veterans Appreciation, brings together nearly 100 students, alums, VCU faculty/staff, and area residents for a day of recognition and appreciation to veterans recovering in the Spinal Cord Division of McGuire Veterans Hospital.
Outstanding Small Business: Quality Stone Concepts, Virginia Beach
For nearly a decade, Quality Stone Concepts’ owners and employees have volunteered with the Virginia Beach Education Foundation where they mentor students enrolled in construction courses at the Virginia Beach Technical and Career Education Center. Quality Stone Concepts’ certified contractors mentor plumbing, carpentry, and electrical students. Students complete industry certifications, making them highly qualified for employment after high school graduation. Teachers estimate that more than 20,000 students will benefit from these creative learning and job development opportunities.
Outstanding Volunteer Family: Tommy and Jimmy Davis, Mechanicsville
For more than 15 years, Tommy and Jimmy Davis dedicated their time and talents to providing much-needed home repairs and re-building efforts to individuals and families in need. The brothers committed their lives to service through Resurrection Disaster Relief, a home repair nonprofit serving Hanover and Louisa counties and a ministry they started at their church called “Helping Hands.”
Outstanding Senior Volunteer: Cathie Cummins, Union Hall
Recognizing that adaptive equipment is often too expensive for many families, Cathie Cummins started Children’s Assistive Technology Services, which provides for the reuse of pediatric rehabilitation equipment. As a result of her efforts, approximately 570 children received 619 pieces of adaptive equipment.
Outstanding Adult Volunteer: Dana Dougherty, Arlington
Dana Dougherty has made it a personal mission to make sure that students in the region have multiple opportunities to improve their health. Dana created 2Fit2Quit, a program that educates staff and parents about the benefits of “brain breaks” and movement throughout the school day. Through her efforts, funding was received to purchase exercise balls, wobbly stools, and pedal desks for classrooms. Dana also spends countless hours running an “all are welcome” fitness program for students and families at Oakridge Elementary, a school where 40 different languages are spoken.
Outstanding Youth Volunteer: Addison Raso, Hanover County
At just 16 years old, Addison has dedicated hundreds of hours to serving others. She has a special passion for service to individuals with disabilities which led her to a special program developed at her church called God Inspires Friendships Together (GIFT). Addison leads this ministry each week, creating the biblical lessons, modifying them, and providing adapted activities that coordinate with each lesson. Most recently, Addison has also begun volunteering as an after-school tutor in the Mosby Court neighborhood and has volunteered in Haiti with an orphanage for youth/adults with special needs.
The Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards are presented by the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism and the Virginia Department of Social Services’ Office on Volunteerism and Community Services on behalf of the Office of the Governor. These awards have recognized exceptional volunteer service in Virginia for more than 20 years. Additional information about the program and full bios on this year’s recipients can be found online at http://virginiaservice.virginia.gov/volunteering/governors-volunteerism-awards/.