Despite the Chicago Cubs’ historic victory and the late night that followed for most of the residents throughout the region, Dynasty Banquet Hall in Hammond was filled to capacity to honor and award the city’s tireless volunteers at their 30th Annual Volunteer Awards Breakfast on Thursday, November 3rd.
“It's been a long running annual event for our city,” said Owana Miller, Director of Community Development for Hammond. “It’s a celebration as well an awards ceremony. There’s just so much good going on in this community. For example one of our award winners, The People’s Turkey Drive, gives out Thanksgiving baskets (that are a complete dinner) to individuals all over Northwest Indiana.”
The event began with a parody of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump visiting Hammond. The laughs from the two faux-candidates woke up the attendees long before the coffee was even served. Following the introduction, a breakfast of sausage, eggs, french toast, and and fruit cocktail was served.
Immediately after breakfast, the awards ceremony began. The first award winner was Adrian Blackman, who won this year’s award for Outstanding Adult Volunteer. Blackman works as Sunday school teacher, a dance instructor with her church, and volunteers with teens throughout the community.
“I was real surprised when I got the letter that I would be receiving this award,” said Blackman. “I was nominated because, I’ve done classes for the youth of Hammond as an outreach speaker. I did a week long program to encourage each one of them to continue their education. It was basically to inspire them that no matter what race they are or what their background was they can still excel.”
The final award was to Thomas McDermott Sr.. When McDermott was mayor in 1986, he began the Annual Volunteer Awards. The award he received was to thank him for all his work throughout the community and all the encouragement he brought to them by beginning the ceremony back in 1986.
“Back then I was just a young guy with dark hair,” McDermott laughed during his acceptance speech. “But I just really want to express my love for the community volunteers and what it's done not just this year, but for as long as I can remember. My son (the current mayor of Hammond, Thomas McDermott jr.) couldn’t be here today, but he and I, would like to say from the bottom of our hearts, we will always love Hammond.”
List of Award Winners:
Outstanding Adult Volunteer:
Outstanding Adult Team:
Hessville Commerce and Community Creative
Outstanding Adult Organization:
The People’s Turkey Drive
Advocate for Children:
Outstanding Youth Volunteer:
Outstanding Youth Organization:
Hammond Boys & Girls Club
Outstanding Parent Involvement:
Spirit of Hammond Award:
Frank Van Til Lifetime Achievement Award:
Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award:
Tiffany Ortiz - Simpson