Local women, business, program receive U.P. volunteer awards

by Linda Remsburg

1411_arts_volunteer_awardsTwo women, a business in Marquette and a charitable program in Munising are among outstanding volunteers honored during the sixth annual U.P. Service Awards program at the U.P. Nonprofit Conference at Northern Michigan University.
The awards are given by the U.P. Volunteer Network and sponsored by Great Lakes Center for Youth Development to recognize exemplary volunteer efforts throughout the U.P. in the categories of youth, under twenty-one; adult, ages twenty-one to sixty-four; senior, ages sixty-five and older; volunteer program and business community leader.
Mary Vertanen of Marquette was honored in the adult category. As a lifetime member of Girl Scouts of the USA, Vertanen embodies its mission to “build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.” As service area manager in the Gwinn/Marquette area, she supervises a team of volunteers creating annual programs shared by 200 girls and seventy adult leaders. She also is a troop leader, creating weekly lesson plans for more than eighty girls in grades K-12.
Madison Touchinski, eighteen, of Marquette received the youth award. In her third year as a board member with GLCYD, Touchinski has served on the Youth Development and Branding Task Forces and as board secretary. She has been a key leader in several GLCYD initiatives, including the 2014 Rise UP Youth Summit and a presentation on Family Assets.
Superior Entertainment Center of Marquette received the business community leader award, which recognizes a for-profit business demonstrating exemplary citizenship by giving back to its community. The business has partnered with local nonprofit organizations to host fund-raisers that have raised tens of thousands of dollars for services. It created a Youth Bowling Scholarship Fund, allowing high school students to compete locally for scholarships. It also supports a Bowling Life Skills Fund, providing free bowling to groups using the activity to support positive development for at-risk or underserved community members.
Alger Community Food Pantry in Munising is the honoree in the volunteer program category, which acknowledges the importance of clubs or organizations in driving volunteer activity. Founded in 2012 through a consolidation of three food pantries in Alger County, the Alger Community Food Pantry exemplifies community collaboration. More than ninety trained volunteers keep the pantry running. In the past year, more than 600 requests for food were filled, 2,200 bags of food and supplies were handed out and 280 families were helped.
George Major, seventy-eight, of Newberry, received the award in the senior category. Major dedicated the last ten years to being a volunteer driver for the Michigan Department of Human Services and Upper Peninsula Health Plan. He transports clients from Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac counties to medical appointments all over the state. Over ten years, he has served more than 13,000 hours, totaling over 187,000 miles.
The U.P. Volunteer Network builds the capacity of U.P. organizations to connect citizens with meaningful service opportunities that meet critical community needs. In addition to promoting volunteerism and recognizing volunteers, the network provides volunteer management training to nonprofits and administrates UPvolunteer.org, matching volunteers with opportunities to serve.
In addition to GLCYD, U.P. Volunteer Network partner organizations include UPCAP’s 2-1-1 call center; United Way of the Eastern U.P. Volunteer Center; Dickinson Iron Community Services Agency Volunteer Services and RSVP; RSVP of Marquette County and RSVP of Delta, Schoolcraft and Menominee counties. To recruit volunteers or find volunteer opportunities, call 228-8919 or visit UPvolunteer.org

— Linda Remsburg

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