Friday, November 2, 2012

2012 Governor's Outstanding Volunteer Awards

We love all of our volunteers, without them we could not do the critically import work we do. We also do not like to play favorites, because every bit, large or small plays an important role in the operations here at LCS. But once in a while we do have the opportunity to have our volunteers recognized in a special way for all of their contributions.

LCS is about people and with people comes stories and those stories leave a legacy. LCS has been around for over 50 years, and that means many people have passed through our doors and much legacy behind it. One such individual was recently acknowledged for his legacy, one that he continues to grow here at LCS.

A few months ago I received an email from the State Office of Volunteerism asking us to get our nominations in for the 2012 Governor's Outstanding Volunteer Awards. I thought that out of the hundreds of volunteers we have, surely someone was worthy of nominating, but who? Since I was the new kid on the block, I thought it best to hand this question over to the rest of the staff. One name came back strongly; Donald (Don) Schaeffer. I knew Don as the quiet, humble guy who worked in our St. Stephen's pantry. He was kind and always seemed to be in control over what was going on down there. A regular face I learned to recognize quickly, but I didn't know much else about him. So it was time to do some home work.

Don Schaeffer and Kristie Augenblick
working at the St. Stephen's Pantry.
Photo by: Jeff Batt
I asked Don to come up for an interview and was amazed at what I found out. He not only worked for us, but he also volunteered for St. Francis Hospital every Monday putting information packets together for the past 30 years; and for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped through the Library of Congress repairing machines so the blind could listen to books on tape for the past 30 years. Don has been working with us off and on for the past 25 years. Between all three organizations he volunteers five days a week, it is his full-time job. He felt what he does is "no big deal" and when asked "What has the work here meant to you?" His answer was "Keeps me busy and active, gives me a reason to get up." When I asked him "What has kept you here all these years?" His answer was "You gotta do something, cannot just sit around." So he is not one to be praised for his work, nor does he keep score.

I sent the nomination in, not knowing if we had any shot at this, but felt if anyone deserved an award, certainly it was Don.

Don Schaeffer recieves his award from Governor Jack
Markell and First Lady Carla Markell
Photo by: Jeff Batt
Finally in mid-September I got the call I was waiting and hoping for; Don won an award and would be going to the award ceremony! I was told there was a record breaker for entries this year and that the competition was tough. (Insert the Volunteer Coordinator Happy Dance here.)  So on October 25th Don went to the 2012 Governor's Outstanding Volunteer Awards that were held at the Dover Down's Hotel in Dover, DE. His photo was shown up on a large screen, the Governor spoke about him, he was given a plaque and had his picture taken with the Governor and First Lady.

Don not being a very public guy or one to take any credit, handled all of this pretty well. We are thrilled for him and I think he understands this really was not so much about him, as it was about representing all of the volunteers at LCS. It gave us a chance to show off who we are and what we are all about. So we really are grateful that Don was "Willing to take one for the team!"

After all of the nominations were made public we found out that two other volunteers from LCS were also awarded by the Governor for their roles in other organizations. Nancy Goyda, who has volunteered with LCS since 1980 and has previously served on its board was awarded for her work with Family Promise, an organization that that is dedicated to providing shelter for homeless families in Northern New Castle County.

Nancy Goyda poses with Governor Jack
Markell and First Lady Carla Markell.
Photo by: Jeff Batt
Marge Altergott was part of a group award for her work with Secret Garden from the Delaware Center for Horticulture delivering educational programming about the environment to the Ministry of Caring Daycare Center. You are all building a great legacy to leave behind one day. One I think might be pretty hard for others to keep up with!

To Don, Nancy and Marge: Congratulations on your awards and thank you for all of your continued efforts here at LCS!

Have a story about your experience with LCS you would like to share, please contact me! Why did you start volunteering for LCS? How long have you volunteered for LCS? What has volunteering for LCS meant to you? Do you know of anyone who should be recognized for their efforts at LCS? Send your stories or suggestions to

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