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Leading Volunteers Recognized At Be More Awards Ceremony
Updated March 31, 2017 9:06 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - The Be More Awards, which honor local volunteers for committed community service, were presented Tuesday, at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

Forty-four individuals and nineteen groups, all of whom had been nominated by community members, were recognized for their generous commitment to improving the community in one way or another.

The awards program was sponsored by the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network, with support from the IU Credit Union, United Way of Monroe County, the City's Community and Family Resources Department and WTIU Public Television.

"You collectively demonstrate that service unites. It brings people together to tackle tough challenges and build a stronger, more vibrant community. You have taken your passion and turned it into meaningful change, and you're inspiring others to do the same," Mayor John Hamilton said, before he presented the last award of the evening.

Award recipients in 10 categories were selected by an independent panel of judges. Mayor John Hamilton presented the final award, the Be More Dedicated award to Marge Penrod, who volunteers with the Opportunity House, saying "She is one of the pieces of a puzzle that quietly holds our community together, making it a better place for those who struggle."

Mayor Hamilton also presented each honoree with a commemorative plaque and Community Foundation President Tina Peterson presented each with a check for $500 for their organizations.

Additional presenters included Barry Lessow (Executive Director, United Way of Monroe County), Beverly Calender-Anderson (Director, City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources Department), Brent Molnar (Station Operations and Content Director, WTIU ), Marc McAleavey (State Service Director,Serve Indiana, a division of Indiana Department of Workforce Development), Brian Richardson (Assistant Director, Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion in the IU School of Public Health and recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Black Male Leader of Tomorrow Award), Bryan Price (President, IU Credit Union), Steve Veldkamp, (IU Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Life and Learning), and William Morris (attorney at law and WFIU host of Just You and Me.)

Be More Healthy Award (Health and Wellness)

Presenter: Barry Lessow, Executive Director, United Way of Monroe County
Recipient: Volunteers in Medicine
Summary: Those who volunteer through Volunteers in Medicine of Monroe County are filling an important gap in medical services to unserved and underserved adults. Volunteers in Medicine is able to serve individuals who are between health care plans, transitioning into health care, and those without health care. Ten years of this committed volunteerism has resulted in approximately 500 medical and lay volunteers serving over 12,000 people. In 2016 alone, these volunteers served 1100 people. From health education and dentistry to primary care and acute walk in, the diversity of the issues Volunteers in Medicine encounters calls for an amazing amount of organization, professionalism, and compassion. Volunteers in Medicine volunteers work hard to ensure that each person is able to receive the medical care that they need.

Be More Committed Award

Presenter: Beverly Calender-Anderson, Director, City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources Department
Recipient: Reova Meredith
Summary: Reova Meredith began the Center for Women's Ministries, offering Bloomington women 30 years of excellent, free counseling. Having experienced the value of professional counseling herself, Reova was struck by the unfair reality that many others do not have the financial resources to access this type of care. By founding and supporting this organization, Reova has allowed countless women access to counseling they sought. The course of women through the program provides an opportunity for them to give back through volunteer counseling. Reova has expertly designed a pairing system that other professionals in the field refer to and utilize. Reova sets a beautiful example for others in the Bloomington community to step up and address a need they see. Her hard work and innovative approach have allowed many women to get the assistance they desire.

Be More Energized Award (Youth)

Presenter: Brent Molnar, Station Operations and Content Director, WTIU
Recipient: Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth
Summary: The young people involved in the Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth have committed to educating others about critically important environmental concerns. Their members work hard and smart to spread information about addressing these concerns. They also successfully promote changes everyday households can make, such as installing solar panels, and they advocate for important climate legislation. Negative environmental changes will have disastrous effects for our global neighbors and for future generations. These young people are incredibly professional and hardworking and are placing environmentalism at the forefront of community discussions. They have directly engaged over 1,000 community members, including three members of Congress.

Be More Sustainable Award (Environmental Sustainability)

Presenter: Marc McAleavey, State Service Director, Serve Indiana
Recipient: Bloomington Community Orchard Volunteers
Summary: The Bloomington Community Orchard survives and thrives on the hard work of volunteers only. These volunteers have a powerful vision of what growing and sharing fruit can mean for the community. It can empower people to play a more proactive role in their local food systems, as well as create more food-secure and harvest-filled communities. The Bloomington Community Orchard does just that so well that it serves as a global model, advising other interested people and organizations around the world on how to create something similar in their communities. The commitment of these volunteers is hard to replicate! Hundreds of Bloomington residents commit to this vision, and interlacing education into all aspects of service to the orchard makes it a sustainable--and contagious--vision.

Be More Phenomenal Award (Board Member)

Presenter: Tina Peterson, President and CEO, Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County
Recipient: Dave Wright
Summary: Dave Wright's service to Monroe County Court Appointed Special Advocates has been adaptive and critical for over sixteen years. Dave has many skills and strengths, and he is there to contribute in any void that develops. His advice and hard work guided the direction of CASA. Since his retirement, Dave treats CASA as his full time job and is an irreplaceable asset, especially as the number of children needing advocates has doubled over the last two years. How can the Bloomington community even try to measure or understand what he has done? One could count the children for whom he advocated, as well as the volunteers, staff, and board he has unwaveringly supported. The broader picture would be the thousands of children that have found permanent and safe homes through CASA and Dave.

Be More Compassionate (Animal Welfare)
Presenter: Brian Richardson, Assistant Director of the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion, IU School of Public Health; recipient of the 2017 Outstanding Black Male Leader of Tomorrow Award
Recipient: Lindsay Schroeder
Summary: Each family celebrates the holidays a little differently; we could all learn from Lindsay Schroeder's commitment to service as a hallmark of her holiday season. For many years, Lindsay has designed and created hand-sewn ornaments to raise money for WildCare. Lindsay works at College Mall Veterinary Hospital, and is able to sell her ornaments there throughout the holiday season. Her ornaments are so beautiful and such a long-standing tradition, many times visitors at her workplace come not to receive veterinary care but specifically to purchase one of Lindsay's ornaments! Lindsay's impact is difficult to measure, but her hard work, on top of a full time job and parenting a four year old, proves that one person's efforts and compassion truly make a difference.

Be More Knowledgeable Award (Education/Literacy)

Presenter: Bryan Price, President and CEO, IU Credit Union
Recipient: Mary Goetze
Summary: Mary Goetze's work through New Leaf-New Life is marked by compassion and intelligence. Over the years, she has also worked with LOTUS, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and American Red Cross. Mary pays attention to the obstacles inmates face, and this challenges her to problem solve with them. The struggle of inmates to remain connected with their young children inspired Mary to create the Read To Me program. Mary's Read To Me program has enabled 500 incarcerated parents to send recordings of themselves reading a book to their children, improving morale for the parents and providing a bridge over which they can send love to their children. Mary also began a program to support inmates pursuing additional education. Mary steps in when needed so that New Leaf-New Life can best serve inmates, and has consistently found creative ways to improve inmates' quality of life.

Be More Involved (College Student)

Presenter: Steve Veldkamp, IU Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Student Life and Learning
Recipient: Vanessa Elias and Stephanie Huezo
Summary: The important work of Vanessa Elias and Stephanie Huezo through La Escuelita para Todos (Little School for All) allows children and adults to become Spanish-English bilingual. Their work with children has a huge impact - they serve as teachers, role models, and emotional supports. Their determination to relate to students and help them meet their goals is an empowering experience for these children. Vanessa and Stephanie understand the importance of helping the children improve their English, but also understand how important it is that they embrace their heritage. The mission of La Escuelita is carried out by inspiring volunteers, and Vanessa and Stephanie embody the commitment and skill of these community members.

Be More Creative Award (Arts/Culture)

Presenter: William Morris, Attorney at Law and WFIU host of Just You and Me
Recipient: Fred Parker
Summary: Fred Parker's commitment to the solid presence of jazz music in the Bloomington community is tireless and immeasurably fruitful. When many jazz venues closed in Bloomington, Fred found himself energized, seeing this as an opportunity. He helped an existing organization adapt to a changing music culture through B'Town Jazz. Fred's work has allowed jazz to reach an estimated 20,000 listeners over the last 10 years. Fred handles a great deal of work behind the scenes of jazz performances around town, from organizing months ahead of time to taking down equipment after events. Without his long-lasting support of this art form, jazz musicians and jazz lovers alike would not have the plentiful opportunities they have today.

Be More Dedicated (Lifetime of Service)

Presenter: Mayor John Hamilton
Recipient: Marge Penrod
Summary: Marge Penrod has been donating her time as a volunteer each Wednesday at Opportunity House for 41 years -- close to 2,000 days! Her knowledge about jewelry and skill in jewelry repair are invaluable assets to Opportunity House, creating a dependable income stream that benefits many. The proceeds from the Opportunity House thrift store supplement child care costs for families with children in the Monroe County United Ministries day care. This allows parents to work, knowing their children are safe and involved in developmentally appropriate activities. Marge offers Opportunity House a unique set of skills and unmatched humility and dedication. She is one of the pieces of a puzzle that quietly holds our community together and makes it a better place for those who struggle.

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