Thursday, April 23, 2009

Volunteers recognized at Good as Gold Ceremony

By Courtney Westlake

UIS and the Junior League of Springfield hosted the Springfield Good as Gold Ceremony on Thursday evening, April 23, to acknowledge community members and organizations for their volunteer efforts.

More than 50 people were recognized during the ceremony for their achievements and efforts, including those receiving the Heart of Gold awards, Youth Volunteer Award(Jack Flesner) and Organization Agent of Service Award (Graham Elementary School Lunch Bunch Mentoring Group). The Junior League also honored a local junior high school girl, Allie Beams, for her leadership and volunteerism with their Outstanding Graduate Award.

Dave Daniels, 103.7 WDBR radio host, and Jessica English, WICS News Channel 20 anchor, served as emcees for the event.

"Our volunteers gave more than 17,200 hours in 2008," English acknowledged during the ceremony.

Five nominees for the Distinguished Volunteer Award were also recognized during the event with a short presentation. The Distinguished Volunteer award winner, John Woods, received a donation stipend to give to the charity of his choice.

UIS student Shana Stine was one of the five nominees for the Distinguished Volunteer Award. Stine founded the organization Jump for Joel, which raises money and awareness for orphans at the Gathiga Children's Hope Home in Kenya.

UIS recognized members of the UIS community at the ceremony with Golden Star Awards for one staff or faculty member and one student who have demonstrated an exceptional commitment to service and volunteerism.

Also honored were numerous UIS students with the UIS Outstanding Community Service awards for their volunteers roles in projects like Jefferson Middle School mentoring and Harvard Park mentoring, and organizations like Americorps and the Leadership for Life service wing in Lincoln Residence Hall. UIS students Howard Kang and Diamond Ross were among those recognized from the community with Heart of Gold Awards.

Mary Caroline Mitchell, associate director of UIS Alumni Office, was the recipient of the UIS Star Staff Award.

Mitchell works to connect alumni with UIS Community. She developed and implemented a group called SAGE, which stands for Service, Activity, Group and Enrichment and is an alumni group for those 50 and older who participate in continuing education programs. SAGE members actively volunteer on campus and in community.

Mitchell also volunteers for UIS Welcome Week, the UIS Holiday Stars Project, UIS Homecoming, Commencement and Project Success.

"In the community, Mary Caroline is known for her participation in the Sangamon County Community Foundation's Women for Women group, Pioneer Days for the Strawbridge-Shepherd House, Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach and Westminster Presbyterian Church," Daniels said.

Craig Pelka was the recipient of the UIS Star Student Award. He initiated and coordinated the part-time job fair and graduate school fair at UIS, served as liaison to the student newspaper and more.

His volunteer activities include the Mercy Communities Home Restoration Project, Animal Protective league, camp counselor for Muscular Dystrophy Association summer camp, conversation partner for the UIS RSL Conversation Partner Program and member of Illinois State Fair College Advisory Board.

"Craig Pelka is an excellent example of extraordinary dedication," English noted. "He has empowered students to succeed and provided the tools and resources to do so. For the community, he has not only provided his time but also his expertise to help organizations' message to be heard."

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