More than 50 Lawrence-area individuals and groups were honored Thursday for their good will and commitment to making a difference.
Seven volunteers from six local agencies received special recognition for 10 or more years of volunteer work during the 2014 Wallace Galluzzi Outstanding Volunteer awards, organized by the United Way of Douglas County's Roger Hill Center.
"There's a great environment when you get that many people who want to do good stuff to the community," said Erika Dvorske, president and CEO of the United Way of Douglas County. "People enjoy being around other volunteers."
The seven volunteers receiving special recognition were Jim Ballinger, of Theatre Lawrence; Sue Eckhoff, of Douglas County Senior Services Inc.; Jerry Foree, of Theatre Lawrence; Steve Hillmer, of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity; Kenny Johnson, of Lawrence Hidden Valley Committee, Inc.; Susan Jones, of Small World; and Arline Seely-Bensch, of Kansas Audio Reader Network.
Dvorske said each agency nominates its own volunteers for recognition, whether it be for tutoring services they provide, board leadership, organizing various events or other services.
"A lot of these agencies have a tendency to work so hard and not often celebrate, so it's a nice chance for agency folks and their volunteers to connect and chat," she said.
Seventeen individuals were recognized for working directly with those in need, from infants to senior citizens. They were: Dr. Bill Anderson, of Van Go, Inc.; Bev Bartscher, of Lawrence Memorial Hospital; Stuart Beals, of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity; Alicia Cusano, of The Willow Domestic Violence Center; Michele Dillon, of Grace Hospice; Russ and Diane Hailey, of Family Promise of Lawrence; Barb Heeb, of Health Care Access; Earline James, of the Lawrence Humane Society; Rob Land, of the Douglas County AIDS Project; Bruce Miller, of the Social Service League; Al and Connie Negen, of Family Promise of Lawrence; Liz Niswonger, of Lawrence Meals on Wheels; Mike Pryor, of Just Food; Anna Paradis, of Douglas County CASA; Molly Schemm, of StopGap, Inc.; Gary Schmidt, of Douglas County CASA; and Melissa Streit, of Douglas County AIDS Project.
Five groups and families were recognized for making an "enormous difference" in the community: Frank Male, Craig Sweets and Melissa Wick, with Kansas Audio-Reader Garden Volunteers; Meadowlark Estates Retirement Community, with Lawrence Habitat for Humanity; Robilea Swindell and Jerry Feese, with Douglas County Emergency Management; Ashley and Brian Sandefur and family, with Family Promise of Lawrence; and Lora Wiley and family, with Lawrence Meals on Wheels
Eight volunteers received awards for leadership provided to their respective agencies: Ruby Demoe, of the Recovery and Hope Network; Brad Finkeldei, of Family Promise of Lawrence; Jill Giele, of Friends of Hidden Valley; Linda Jalenak, of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity; Sue Lewis, of the United Way of Douglas County; Helen Seymour, of Douglas County CASA; Lori Tesdahl, of Kansas Audio-Reader Network; and Terrance Tidzump, of the Recovery and Hope Network.
The event also celebrated six youth volunteers, ranging from high school to college students, for their service: Adele Falk, of The Willow Domestic Violence Center; Maddie Jones, of Grace Hospice; Sadie Keller, of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity; Joel Rosenberger, of Lawrence Habitat for Humanity; Paige Schmidt, of Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority; and Bill Wilson, of the Douglas County Aids Project.
Five individuals were recognized for efforts "behind the scenes" that often go unheralded: Nathan Hutchcraft, of the United Way of Douglas County; Don Kallos, of the Girl Scouts; Diane Mahoney, of The Willow Domestic Violence Center; Janet Mills, of Trinity In-Home Care; and Drew White, of Independence, Inc.