As Lady Bird Johnson once said, “Where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
The Seeds of Hope Awards were created to celebrate the good happening in the greater Green Bay area and surrounding communities during the pandemic. The Volunteer Center of Brown County asked community members in Brown, Shawano, and Oconto counties to submit their stories of how they or someone they know rose to the challenge by volunteering or planting seeds of hope during these times (from March 1, 2020, and onward). Whether it is helping a neighbor in need, delivering groceries to a homeless shelter, sewing masks for front-line workers and community members, or volunteering on the front lines, we know that the very act of giving plants seeds of hope in our community, and each volunteer is just as important as the next.
We want to celebrate the dedication of these individuals and groups who are giving of their time and energy.
The deadline to submit was July 2. The Volunteer Center of Brown County chose five recipients to receive $200 each to gift to a local cause of their choosing (a 501c3 nonprofit or 501c4 organization).
Thank you to ALL the nominees and congratulations to our winners!
Seeds of Hope Award Winners
“Where flowers bloom, so does hope.” In Carrie Arnold’s case, the blooming flowers are clean, great-smelling laundry, and the hope is found in the dignity of knowing and being known.
In March, when COVID-19 hit, Carrie became the “laundry lady” for a group of men from St. John’s Homeless Shelter. Beginning when nearly two dozen staff members were home in quarantine for two weeks, Carrie answered the call to launder their personal items and bedding. During March and April, Carrie laundered dozens and dozens of loads of laundry for the group of men.
Carrie and the men bonded over the experience, affectionately calling her the “Laundry Lady” and referring to “Carrie Laundry” as its own special thing. Evidently, “Carrie Laundry” just smells better and makes their guests feel all the more loved. This is the very heart of St. John’s. For a supporting blog post, visit www.stjohnhomelessshelter.org/laundrylady
Deb Harrington has ALWAYS been the type of volunteer who goes above and beyond. She has been an American Red Cross volunteer for nearly 11 years.
Deb manages the American Red Cross warehouse space, which is more than 13,000 square feet and also includes three disaster vehicles and eight sheltering trailers. She ensures all logistical needs are met in 16 counties in Wisconsin and the U.P. To do this, Deb schedules and works with other volunteers, all the while ensuring that social distancing and other COVID-19 requirements are met. Since mid-March, Deb has volunteered more than 100 hours. On average, she spends 8-16 hours a week volunteering with the Red Cross and is always willing to pitch in when a need arises. By overseeing and keeping the warehouse stocked, Deb ensures that the Red Cross’ 300+ disaster volunteers are able to meet the need of our community, whenever disaster may strike. These disasters could include home fire, tornado, or flooding. While Deb does a lot of this work herself, she is always considering ways to engage our other volunteers safely. Other volunteers will say they’re always happy to help Deb because of her positive attitude and her willingness to ensure they have the best volunteer experience. She is a true example of a servant leader.
Jayne Black is the president and co-founder of Creative Kids Rock. Jayne creates awareness about dyslexia and celebrates the creative artistic strengths of children with dyslexia. During the pandemic, she was not able to hold events, but knew she had to continue her mission of reaching children through inspiring art and creativity!
Jayne created multiple virtual events, like the “Virtual Art Project Cards for our Elderly” event, where children and families could volunteer to make art/cards that were then sent to nursing homes to bring smiles and virtual hugs. Over 400 cards have been created and sent to local nursing homes. Jayne also created a virtual art project where volunteers decorated lunch bags for Howe Community Resource Center. These lunch bags were then handed out by the Howe Community Resource Center at their free student lunch site. Jayne also put together 125 art projects that surprised the students receiving free student lunches to inspire creativity during this time. Jayne felt it was more important than ever for people to do art and be creative to get their feelings out, like words on a canvas. She believes that art is powerful in so many ways and wanted to help in any way that she could. Jayne’s message to children with dyslexia and all children is to shine bright, and these projects did shine a bright light during what was for many a dark time.
Melanie Brick is a true inspiration to the community and the school district she serves. She currently works for De Pere Public Schools as a social worker.
Melanie is constantly reaching out to friends, family, and the community to help families in need. She frequently manages food drives and organizes needs for displaced families. She has gone so far as to find transportation for individuals and money for car repairs. At Easter, she organized an Easter basket/meal drive for 100+ people. In June, Melanie created a GoFundMe fundraiser page for children who had lost their mothers so that people could help with funeral costs and daily living expenses. Melanie is a true inspiration. She is someone to admire and look up to. The world would truly be a better place if more people could follow her lead. How she accomplishes everything she does, while working, helping on her family farm, and raising her children, is truly unbelievable. Perhaps she has more than 24 hours in a day to do all her good work!
Operation Community Cares
Operation Community Cares (OCC) was started in response to COVID-19, when director Will Nething noticed an elderly couple shopping while stores were being bought out of essential items. He noticed there was a challenge getting essential items to those in need who were at-risk or out of work due to the virus.
This is when Will approached Brandon Danforth and Shannon Demeny. They quickly reached out to local non-profit organizations who had to close their doors to the clients who had relied on them prior to COVID. After establishing partnerships with these organizations, the team put a process in place that allowed them to consolidate the resources each organization had to offer. They then recruited their own volunteer base made up of about 20 volunteers who would assist in delivering these essential items to the community. In a nutshell, Operation Community Cares became something like the “Amazon of Non-profits.” They helped deliver to over 2,000 homes in our community and accumulated over 2,000 volunteer hours.
Operation Community Cares is now working with their partners to get things back to “normal” and have been directing those in need to the correct resources. For more information about Operation Community Cares, visit www.occwi.org.
The Seeds of Hope Awards were made possible by a generous gift from American National Bank.
See the NBC26 segment on the Seeds of Hope Awards here.
Questions? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.