Members of the Valparaiso Kiwanis Club celebrated their volunteers on Wednesday afternoon for outstanding service to the community. A lunch at Strongbow Inn brought together club members to award those who had been nominated for the 13th annual Greater Valparaiso Volunteer of The Year Recognition program. Each nominee has shown exponential work in their volunteer program and were recognized by the club.
The 2014 Volunteer of the Year nominees included: James Mackenzie (Boys & Girls Club of Porter Co. Valparaiso), Deanna Proimos (Chasing Dreams), Rosita Butler (Family & Youth Services Bureau), Rose Gray (Hilltop Neighborhood House), Brad Sweet (Housing Opportunities), Ruth Parks (Jacob’s Ladder Pediatric Rehab), John Blosky (Porter County Career & Technical Center), Madelyn Murphy (Taltree Arboretum & Gardens), Kathleen Thompson (United Methodist Women), Mike Jones (Valparaiso YMCA), and Judy Bornstein (Visiting Nurses Association of Porter County).
These volunteers were nominated by a representative from their respective agency because of their dedication in the work that they do.
“We have to pick an ultimate winner, which is sad because every single thing we read about these people touches you. You realize how important they are to that specific organization,” said board member and chair of the event, Susan Brychell.
All of the touching stories of the volunteers were shared among the crowd as the club took a moment to honor each and every one of them.
“This program started out to encourage more volunteers within the greater Valparaiso area and we have had such a tremendous response in the last few years. We have many agencies involved and we want to help honor the people that they see work every day. We just want to make it special for the people who do this work. They don’t realize what they do. They don’t realize what an effect that they have on, not only the people they are helping, but all kinds of people outside of themselves” said Kiwanis Club board director, Roger Luekens.
The winner of the award went to Judy Bornstein, of Visiting Nurses Association of Porter County. Judy is known for singing beautiful hymns to patients in their last moments of life. She shared some of her experiences as the crowd was filled with emotion from her touching words. As she sang parts of hymns, you could tell how comforting she was for the patients.
“This is a blessing. There are many stories that I have that touch my heart. There is no better example of being a volunteer then being able to have these kinds of experiences where you not only touch someone else, but they touch you,” said Bornstein.
This event was a great way to celebrate the volunteers in the community that dedicate their time and effort to help make this city the caring community that it is today. The Valparaiso Kiwanis Club Foundation showed their support of these hard-working individuals by recognizing them and treating them to a delicious lunch in their honor.