Several individuals and an organization from Marquette County have been recognized for outstanding efforts to make their community a better place to live.
Recipients of the 2014 Marquette County Outstanding Volunteer Awards were announced by the Volunteer Coordinators of Marquette County during the 18th annual volunteer recognition event April 5 at the Westwood Mall in Marquette.
Jeanette Maki of Gwinn was named Volunteer of the Year. Maki is a long-time promoter of tourism and economic growth in southern Marquette County. She is the volunteer President and Director of the Gwinn-Sawyer Area Chamber of Commerce, an organization which she co-founded in 1984 and has been involved in ever since. She is also founder and editor of the Gwinn Quarterly newspaper. She has organized events including the Midnight Run Dog Sled Race, Town-Wide Rummage Sale, Fun Daze and the Fun Daze parade as well as Santa in the Park and Tree Lighting Ceremonies at Nordeen Park and Sawyer. She delivers Meals On Wheels to homebound residents of Gwinn and helps with the town’s Clock Tower Project. She is also a caregiver to two elderly relatives. She has logged over 12,000 volunteer hours with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Marquette County since becoming a member in 2001.
Madison Touchinski, 18, of Marquette received the Youth Volunteer Award. Touchinski, a senior at Marquette Senior High School, is a member of the Great Lakes Center for Youth Development board of directors. She serves as board secretary and is active on the organization’s youth development task force. She has played key roles in many of the organization’s activities including the recent Rise UP Youth Summit and presentations on positive youth development.
Joan Zbacnik of Marquette received the Senior Volunteer Award. Zbacnik is a Red Cross Preparedness program disaster action team leader in Marquette County, heading up local volunteers and assisting clients in house fires, spring floods, and forest fires. Since 2005, she has been deployed to 14 disasters nationally including Hurricanes Ivan, Katrina and Sandy; tornados in Oklahoma, Texas and Illinois; flooding in Colorado and downstate Grand Rapids and the Duck Lake Fire near Newberry.
Heather Modell of Marquette received the Adult Volunteer Award. Modell began volunteering with Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes in 2011 when she and two assistant volunteers formed Troop 5033 with five girls in kindergarten. Under her leadership, the troop has grown to 34 girls in kindergarten through third grade with seven assistant volunteers and an eighth grade helper. In addition to her troop activities, she is active with the Marquette-Gwinn Area Girl Scouts Service Team which coordinates area troops and events.
St. Vincent de Paul Society of Ishpeming received the Volunteer Organization Award.Nearly 40 volunteers sort and stock shelves in the charitable organization’s food pantry, interview clients and take applications for financial assistance in its Friends in Need Office and sort, fix, price and display donated items in its thrift store. The volunteers’ efforts help keep the organization self-sustaining.
Sarah Hujar, a senior at Northern Michigan University, received the Michael D. Nunnally Northern Michigan University Student Volunteer Award. Hujar has been active in campus-wide volunteer opportunities including Make a Difference Day, Relay for Life, and this year’s MLK Day of Service. She has served in leadership roles in NMU Circle K, a community service organization, all four years of college. She currently volunteers as a public relations and marketing intern with Great Lakes Center for Youth Development as part of the NMU Student Leader Fellowship Program.
The Volunteer Coordinators of Marquette County host the awards and volunteer recognition event each spring in conjunction with National Volunteer Week which this year is April 6-12. The event recognizes all volunteers for their service to communities in Marquette County.
The Volunteer Coordinators of Marquette County provide networking opportunities for those working with volunteers and share resources on volunteerism-related projects. The group invites those who work with volunteers to join its monthly meetings. For more information about the Volunteer Coordinators of Marquette County, contact Jane Iery at 906-228-3578.