To a person with a disability, a service dog is the gift of independence, freedom and companionship. Without the 24/7 commitment of volunteers like Jackie Cheshire, these dogs wouldn’t get the training required to serve those in need. Jackie, currently raising her sixth puppy to be a service dog for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), receives the puppies when they are eight weeks old and then works with the dogs for a year and a half – including teaching them about 40 commands.
Jackie’s calm determination, passion for the dogs and dedication to enhancing the lives of people with disabilities serves as an inspiration to other puppy raisers and volunteers.
Community Organization: Virginia Dental Association Foundation Mission of Mercy (Richmond)
Mission of Mercy (MOM) provides free hands-on dental care to Virginians who suffer from unrelenting dental disease and pain but are unable to get the help they need. MOM volunteers have donated more than 160,000 hours and have served nearly 60,000 patients in communities throughout the Commonwealth. Their model has been used by 28 other states and has been recognized by the American Dental Association for its innovative approach and commitment to respectful patient care.
Corporation: Dominion Resources (Richmond)
For more than 30 years, Dominion Resources has energized communities through its dynamic employee volunteer program. Dominion employees are making a tremendous impact on communities throughout the Commonwealth. Volunteer efforts range from organizing cancer walks to food drives.
Dominion allows every employee eight hours per year of paid volunteer time as part of their corporate culture of volunteer service. Additionally, Dominion Foundation contributes more than $20 million annually to support, community projects. Their unwavering corporate support year after year, encourages volunteerism.
Educational Institution: Big Brothers Big Sisters of James Madison University (Harrisonburg)
Thanks to the commitment and service of James Madison University (JMU) students, the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) in Harrisonburg-Rockingham County consistently serves more children annually than any other BBBS agency in Virginia.
The student BBBS organization serves as the leadership body, representing more than 500 students who annually serve as volunteer mentors committing a minimum of 28,000 volunteer hours annually to local kids. Each mentor must make a three-semester commitment to spending time with a child each week.
Faith-Based Volunteer Service: Mercy Chefs, Inc. (Portsmouth)
Mercy Chefs is a faith-based disaster relief organization that serves high-quality, professionally-prepared meals to victims, volunteers, and first responders in emergencies and natural disasters. Mercy Chefs was founded by Gary LeBlanc out of his home in Portsmouth in 2006.
Eight and a half years later, Mercy Chefs is serving communities across Virginia and expanding to Texas, New York, Mississippi, Colorado, Louisiana, Arkansas – and internationally to Haiti, Iraq, the Philippines and Zimbabwe. During Hurricane Sandy, Mercy Chefs cranked out 14,000 hot meals in one day. Wherever there’s hunger, Mercy Chefs will gladly take the call to “feed the people.”
Family Volunteer Service: The Mallory Family (Beaverdam)
In Beaverdam, if there’s an emergency call or a community event – you’ll find the Mallory Family. Scott Mallory, his wife Angela, and their children Joe and Jessica, are not just an integral part of the community, but shining examples of civic duty and community spirit. The entire family volunteers for the Beaverdam Volunteer Fire Department, is active with the Beaverdam United Methodist Church, participates in cancer walks in the community, supports the National Night Out through the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, and assists with various Beaverdam Ruritan Club activities benefitting the community.
Whether it’s meeting and greeting at a local blood drive or responding to an emergency call at one of their neighbor’s homes – the Mallory Family demonstrates the power of family and engagement.
Senior Volunteer: V. Knight Bowles (Goochland)
For Goochland residents living in unsafe and substandard housing, V. Knight Bowles is a heroic crusader who exemplifies the motto of his alma mater, Virginia Tech – Ut Prosim (that I may serve). After his retirement as an engineer in 1997, Mr. Bowles has devoted his time to those in need of safe, accessible housing through the Goochland chapter of Habitat for Humanity and the Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services. Since his retirement, he has built 20 homes through Habitat for Humanity and nearly 80 ramps for individuals with physical limitations.
As a community advocate, he tirelessly works to educate residents about the needs in the county, rallies volunteers for various projects, and is a voice for residents who help with the county government. Throughout his entire life, V. Knight Bowles has epitomized the tenets of service and community – from his early military service until today as a leader who lives to serve his community.
Youth Volunteer: Will Salzmann (Sterling)
The homeless population in Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia, has discovered that dignity and compassion comes in the face of a 13-year-old boy. For more than a year, Will has served for 20 hours each month organizing youth and their families for the outreach trips, managing the packing of donations, and providing music to the homeless.
Will established the Love Bin Project, which has delivered more than 1,000 bags of food, 500 coats and jackets, 600 bags of toiletries, and more than 100 pairs of socks, gloves and shoes.
Published on Thursday, May 7, 2015SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave