35th WPS Volunteer Awards logo

2023 WPS Volunteer Awards

WPS Logo

This inspiring and heartwarming event, held on April 27, 2023, at the Lambeau Field Atrium, brought together nearly 440 people to focus a spotlight on area volunteers who give selflessly of their time and the nonprofits whose missions they help fulfill! All individuals, groups, and nonprofits who were nominated were honored, and award recipients and runners-up were announced in nine categories. Scroll down to read their stories!


About the WPS Volunteer Awards

Made possible by event sponsor WPS, along with the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation and our generous award sponsors, Capital Credit Union, Constellation, Festival Foods, The George Kress Foundation, Georgia-Pacific, Green Bay Packers Give Back, Nicolet National Bank, Schreiber, and United Healthcare.

The award amounts (for all but the Nonprofit Impact category) are $1,000 for recipients and $500 for the runners-up, which will be gifted to the nonprofit of their choosing. Youth receive these amounts as scholarships. In the Nonprofit Impact category, three organizations will be awarded $1,000 each, sorted by level of annual operating budget (up to $299,999; $300,00-$999,999; over $1 million).

Additionally, funds raised before, during, and after the event allow the Volunteer Center to continue our mission of creating a stronger community by engaging volunteers to support nonprofit partners.

Want to relive your favorite moments or weren’t able to attend?
Click below to watch the event on YouTube.

2023 Nominees

A list of all the volunteers, volunteer groups, and nonprofits that were nominated this year can be found HERE!

2023 Recipients and Runners-Up

Large Group Award

Sponsored by Green Bay Packers Give Back

Recipient: Miracle League of Green Bay Buddies

For kids with special needs, physical and cognitive challenges can sometimes prevent them from being part of traditional sports teams. The Miracle League of Green Bay removes barriers and allows kids with special needs, ages 4 to 19, to experience the joy of baseball. All Miracle League players are paired with a volunteer ‘buddy’, someone who mentors the player, helps them get the necessary equipment, and assists with batting and fielding. On a practical level, the buddy’s main job is to keep their player safe and help meet whatever physical, cognitive, or social needs they might have. However, being a buddy is also about building relationships, so the player feels like they are a part of the team. It’s about celebrating the player’s amazing abilities and building up their self-esteem. And most importantly, it’s about cheering on the player and giving them the freedom to enjoy America’s pastime! While those with different abilities are sometimes viewed as ‘other’, the Miracle League Buddies show their players that they are a part of a community that values them for who they are and what they bring to the team. They give so much to the players on the field every game and are truly ‘Angels in the Outfield’.

Runner-Up: Unity Veteran Volunteers

Large Group runner-up - Unity Veteran Vols

Veteran volunteers provide regular companionship to veterans on hospice care and support their families through a difficult time. Often during these visits, veterans begin to talk about their service experience, sometimes sharing stories they may never have told anyone before. With their brothers and sisters in arms present, they may feel more comfortable speaking about what they’ve been through, providing peace and closure as they near the end of life. These volunteers also conduct pinning ceremonies, at which the veteran is given an American flag pin and a pin representing their branch of military service. This meaningful recognition shows deep gratitude for the sacrifices the veteran and their family have made in service to their country.

Small Group Award

Sponsored by Festival Foods

Recipient: Sunshine Crew at St. John’s Ministries

These cooks, the Sunshine Crew, started giving of their time at St. John’s Ministries’ main homeless shelter downtown and now make breakfast for guests at the Wellspring location on Walnut Street. This group of volunteers uses whatever food is available to create amazing breakfast meals. These ladies not only fill the stomachs of the homeless, but also help meet the social and emotional needs of the guests, as many clients are socially isolated and without close friends or family to talk to. This group of ladies does it all with a smile, serving others with servant leadership and humility. Many winter mornings start out cold and gray, but the Sunshine Crew brightens it up for guests and staff alike, making a huge difference in the lives of homeless women.

Runner-Up: Bread Run Drivers – Salvation Army

Small Group runner-up - Bread Run Drivers

No matter the weather, the Salvation Army Bread Run Drivers make six to nine stops a morning five days a week, picking up overbaked goods and extra food products. The food then goes back to the Salvation Army where it is given out to its 150 clients through its food pantry or used to supplement the noontime meal. Not only is this group helping to feed the homeless, it is also reducing food waste. In the last year, the Bread Run Drivers spent nearly 700 hours picking up food five days a week. Many of this group’s volunteers have been helping out for over 10 years. This group realizes they are on the front lines working with businesses like Festival Foods, Big Apple Bagels, and Kwik Trip. If they are late for pickups or don’t communicate well with these businesses, it could put future donations in jeopardy.

Arts and Culture Award

Sponsored by Nicolet National Bank

Recipient: Lynn Liddle-Drewiske

Arts and Culture recipient - Lynn Liddle-Drewiske

A symphony consists of many individual instruments that, while beautiful on their own, come together to create something magical. Lynn makes many different contributions to the Civic Symphony of Green Bay that would be remarkable on their own, but when looked at collectively, are truly impressive. She has performed with the Civic Symphony for 20 years, leading the flute section through four concerts a year, with rehearsals in between. As a former music teacher, Lynn knows how instrumental education can be in sparking an appreciation for music, especially in young children, so, as co-chair of the education committee, she has also spearheaded the children’s concert, bringing 700 local schoolchildren to enjoy live orchestral music, an opportunity that they otherwise may not have had. She also designed a curriculum to help make the students more engaged in the symphony’s performance and has served as a board and program committee member.

Runner-Up: Jean Jostad-Shonkwiler

Arts and Culture runner-up - Jean Shonkwiler

Evergreen Theater, a nonprofit theater company dedicated to offering professional-quality productions and advancing the arts in our region, produces eight shows each year, with cast sizes ranging from 10 to 50-plus. For the past six years, Jean has served as the company’s photographer, capturing cast and crew headshots and photographing performances. Jean’s photos, offered to Evergreen completely free of charge, help to market the productions, enticing audiences to enjoy live theater and support the arts in our community. Photos from Evergreen’s last 31 seasons are protected in the organization’s archives, ensuring that the magic of each production lives on. Jean plays an integral role in continuing that tradition.

Adult Award

Sponsored by Georgia-Pacific

Recipient: Diane Mangan

Adult recipient - Diane Mangan

Ribbon of Hope was founded by four breast cancer survivors who felt the need to help local women and men struggling with the financial burden of a cancer diagnosis. Diane has unselfishly taken on whatever task was needed by the foundation, from secretary for the board of directors to office manager to Request Committee ‘expert’. The Request Committee is made up of 10 breast cancer survivors who are responsible for executing all financial requests. In 2010, when the Ribbon of Hope Foundation lost everything in a devastating fire, Diane was one of the first on board to help find a new office. During the search for new space, she moved the Request Committee to her house so their work could continue. As a cancer survivor, Diane knows the challenges patients face. With compassion as her trademark, she is always ready to help recipients by lending an empathetic ear.

Runner-Up: Deb Johnson

Adult runner-up - Deb Johnson

Deb started volunteering with Unity Hospice in 2003 and has logged over 1,600 hours, mostly as a companion visitor. She visits patients in private homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities. Deb understands that holding a hand or providing a light touch on a caregiver’s shoulder can often convey a much stronger message than words. It can be a very trying time for family members or friends, and Deb is always available to listen and to talk with them when they reach out. She does not actively seek recognition for her volunteer work and agreed to being nominated only because it would benefit Unity through increased awareness of the work hospice volunteers do and the hope it would inspire others to volunteer.

Youth Award

Sponsored by United Healthcare

Recipient: Luis Raya Torres

Youth recipient - Luis Raya Torres

Luis participates in N.E.W. Scholars, an after-school college readiness program offered by CollegeReady that empowers over 200 Green Bay students with resources, support, and tools so that they can be the first in their families to go to college. As part of the program, students are asked to volunteer, and Luis has dedicated his time to issues he cares about, including assisting with trash pickup and greeting guests at the Downtown Green Bay Farmer’s Market, participating in a neighborhood cleanup project, and providing translation and other services to parents and families at a workshop for N.E.W. Scholars. Luis is setting an example for young people that volunteering teaches valuable skills and plants seeds that will continue to grow and impact our community for years to come.

Runner-Up: Delaney Gallagher

Youth runner-up - Delaney Gallagher

The frozen tundra of Green Bay presents a harsh environment for those members of our community living without shelter. Recognizing that, Delaney created a program called Long Johns for St. John’s to collect warming items such as long johns, coats, hats, gloves, and boots for the clients and guests of St. John’s Ministries. Since 2020, she has collected more than 3,000 warming items and raised an astonishing $10,000 to provide comfort, shelter, and resources for homeless individuals! She seeks in-kind and financial donations, works with the media to spread awareness, and promotes the program on social media. Wise beyond her years, Delaney has become a force for good and an advocate for those in our community who are all too easily forgotten.

Volunteer in Education Award

Sponsored by The George F. Kress Foundation

Recipient: Crystal Trejo

Education recipient - Crystal Trejo

Three years ago, as a math teacher in the Luxemburg-Casco School District, Crystal saw that some students who originated from Central American countries were not doing as well as their fellow students who were born in the US and who spoke fluent English. She started an after-school program, called Centro de Actividades y Servicios Altruistas, to help solve this problem. It provides Spanish-speaking students with a place to go after school to get help with their homework and share cultural experiences with peers. In addition, Crystal now also volunteers her time offering adult English classes on weekends. Her efforts are clearly visible in the students’ positive actions and attitudes, and in their planning for the future.

Runner-Up: Bill Wright

Education runner-up - Bill Wright

English is one of the most difficult languages to learn and Bill is very patient and compassionate as he helps students make the adjustment to living in America. He has logged more than 600 volunteer hours for Literacy Green Bay over the last 10 years. In addition, he helps improve Literacy’s adult tutoring program by sharing the lessons he’s learned. For example, it’s important to keep in mind that some of the people trying to learn English are doctors, lawyers or engineers in their native countries and often speak more than one language. Many of Bill’s ideas and suggestions have been adapted into the training given to new tutors. He can also be spotted working at several other nonprofit organizations in the area.

Nonprofit Impact Award

Sponsored by Capital Credit Union

Recipient (Budget up to $299,000)

Foster the Village provides aid to the foster care community in Brown County, supplying free clothing, shoes, diapers, and other care items to children who arrive in foster care without adequate supplies. Volunteers process and organize incoming physical donations and stock the shelves with basic needs items. They can also be found cleaning the rooms used by the public. Most importantly, they talk with the children who come in to better understand their needs and help them find that perfect winter coat or pair of new shoes. The volunteers strive to connect with each child to make them feel comfortable, safe, and welcome. In 2022, their volunteers went above and beyond, donating hundreds of hours of time to pack up the contents of the former location and move into a new building.

Recipient (Budget $300,000-$999,999)

Nonprofit Impact - CASA

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Brown County is a volunteer-based nonprofit that provides a voice for children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect and are under the legal protection of the court system. A CASA volunteer, after being trained, will visit regularly with a child and submit a monthly report on the child’s safety and well-being to the judge, who then uses this information to make important decisions about the child’s future. In 2022, volunteers logged approximately 2,500 hours of service to children who often need a consistent adult in their life after experiencing abuse and/or neglect. CASA volunteers build a special relationship with the child, and the child is then more likely to get help with other services, spend less time living in foster care, find a safe and permanent home, and do better in school.

Recipient (Over $1,000,000)

Nonprofit Impact - St. John's Ministries

St. John’s Ministries recently expanded gender-specific services with the opening of their women’s overnight shelter. Volunteers, along with a variety of service groups, helped move furniture and supplies, build beds, and set up the kitchen, laundry, and donation room spaces. This represented hundreds of hours of volunteer time and laid the foundation for St. John’s to serve some of the most vulnerable women in our community. In addition, St. John’s recently started the Joseph Project, a faith-based employment training program that prepares individuals for full-time careers. Volunteers designed and led workshop sessions on things like budget and finance, interview skills, life skills and more. These volunteers invest time and talent into the future of our region’s economy by preparing the participants for successful employment. The respect and care St. John’s’ volunteers show is especially important to those experiencing homelessness and housing instability, who are so often marginalized and overlooked. Whether cleaning, feeding, teaching, or leading, these volunteers provide hope, honor dignity, and effect lasting change.

Volunteer Leadership Award

Sponsored by Constellation

Recipient: Daniel Vermeulen

Volunteer Leadership recipient - Daniel Vermeulen

Dan lives next to a retired De Pere firefighter, and one day, he asked the neighbor if he had ever seen any kids sleeping on the floor when he was working for the fire department. The former firefighter responded that, yes, he had seen kids sleeping on the floor or on piles of clothes during his time on the job. That was all Dan needed to hear in deciding to start a group he’d heard about on the internet called Sleep in Heavenly Peace. This group builds and gives beds to any kid in need ages 3-17. In 2020, Dan recruited friends, family, and church members to build the organization’s first six beds at Calvary Lutheran Church in Green Bay. They quickly outgrew their space and now hold six to eight builds a year. Dan coordinates over 100 volunteers who saw, drill, and put the beds together. The beds are then delivered to kids being served by Brown County Social Services, families being resettled because of domestic abuse, Catholic Charities’ Afghan refugee program, and foster parents. Dan also helps out at food drives, serves on the church grounds committee, gives blood, and provides comfort with his trained therapy dog at schools and hospitals.

Runner-Up: Jake Jirschele

Volunteer Leadership runner-up - Jake Jirschele

It is not an exaggeration to say Jake puts in over 100 hours a year volunteering in support of several organizations. He has been a member of the Allouez Optimist Club for 11 years, helping the club increase funding and volunteerism with 22 different youth-focused organizations. For the last 10 years, he has volunteered at Miracle League games and serves on their board of directors, helping to raise money to support the program. Jake also supports Court Appointed Special Advocates of Brown County, spending dozens of hours mentoring and guiding children to help make sure they feel safe and have hope. In addition, he is also on the board of directors for Junior Achievement, where he is always willing to help with strategy and other related discussions to help move the organization forward. His depth of commitment and the energy he brings to serving so many influences others to do the same and makes him stand out among community volunteers.

Heart of Gold Lifetime Achievement Award

Sponsored by Schreiber

Recipient: Sister Annice McClure

Heart of Gold recipient - Sister Annice McClure

Sister Annice has had service modeled to her since childhood, and those early lessons have served her well, as she has dedicated her life to the service of others. At 90 years young, her level of engagement is remarkable. Each week you’ll find Sister Annice at the front desk of St. John’s Ministries’ Micah Center and leading a monthly meal team. Over the last 15 years, her meal team has provided well over 5,000 meals to guests in the shelters. Numerous times, Sister Annice has taken on the task of cooking additional meals to celebrate holidays, using food items on hand to create a feast. Her old-fashioned hospitality communicates warmth and care to guests, staff, and community members. She enjoys building rapport with others, and her goal in volunteering is to bring a sense of goodness, joy, and blessing into the lives of the guests she serves. In addition, she worked at Hospital Sisters Health System well into her late eighties. Sister Annice, saying she’s grateful to still be able to do this, has been a role model of selfless service for our entire community.

Runner-Up: Sister Sally Ann Brickner

Heart of Gold runner-up - Sister Sally Ann Brickner

Sister Sally Ann has been volunteering with Catholic Charities’ Refugee Resettlement Program since its inception in 2020. Since then, she has spent over 400 hours with refugee clients, taking them to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping or to English classes. She guides refugee clients with gentle compassion as they settle into their homes and their new life in our community. Sister Sally Ann also assists Catholic Charities with data gathering, office organization, and document filing. Her help allows employees to have more time to focus on meeting the needs of the community. The faith and joy she brings to any volunteer service is remarkable. The refugee clients that Sister Sally Ann serves absolutely adore her, and she has taken great care to build strong relationships with them to help ease their transition and feel welcomed by our community.

In addition to our award sponsors (named above), the Volunteer Center appreciates these sponsors’ generosity and support as we recognize the powerful impact volunteers have within our area communities:

Greater Green Bay Community Foundation Logo
Community Impact Sponsor
AK Logo
Volunteer Champion
Associated Bank Logo
Volunteer Champion
Schneider Logo
Volunteer Champion
American National Bank
Volunteer Impact
Cellcom Logo
Volunteer Impact
Volunteer Impact