Three Marquette County residents, a business and a nonprofit organization were honored during the 10th annual U.P. Service Awards program at the recent U.P. Nonprofit Conference.
The awards are given annually by Grow & Lead: Community and Youth Development to recognize exemplary volunteer and charitable efforts throughout the U.P. in the categories of youth, under 21; adult, ages 21-64; senior, ages 65 and above; volunteer program and business community leader.
Honorees were presented with plaques in a luncheon program during the conference at Northern Michigan University Oct. 18.
“We are fortunate in the Upper Peninsula to have incredible volunteers who give freely of their time and talent in making the U.P. a great place to live,” said Linda Remsburg, Grow & Lead Associate. “The U.P. Service Awards program is a way to thank them for their important contributions and to inspire others to serve.”
Grace LaValley of Marquette received the award in the senior category. LaValley has been volunteering at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans since 1998. Since then, she has served more than 4,700 hours—600 of which were in the past year. LaValley prides herself in knowing every resident’s interests and limitations. She has recruited countless others to volunteer at the home. She mentors her fellow volunteers and lets them know which residents like to attend which activities and who may need extra help.
Larry Dobbs of Negaunee received the award in the adult category. Dobbs has been a Non-Emergent Medical Transportation Volunteer Driver for Upper Peninsula Health Plan (UPHP) since 2001. He has logged nearly 300,000 miles over 50,000 hours taking UPHP members to medical appointments. Dobbs routinely puts the needs of UPHP members ahead of his own. He is often the first volunteer UPHP calls when they need to make arrangements on short notice such as for hospital discharges. Dobbs has also been a transporter for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for 22 years. In his volunteer service between the two agencies, it is estimated he has driven more than 600,000 miles.
Sierra Bentti, 17, of Marquette received the award in the youth category. Bentti is president of the Community Foundation of Marquette County Youth Advisory Council, a member of the Peter White Public Library Teen Advisory Board and chair of the Marquette County Cares Teen Team. She also volunteers with JJ Packs and CAT Packs food assistance programs. In her position with Marquette County Cares, she helps youth, ages 11 to 17, organize community activities that build protective factors and decrease risky behaviors among their peers.
Start the Cycle of Marquette received the award in the volunteer program category. Start the Cycle pairs adult volunteers with youth ages 12-18 to teach them life skills through mountain biking. Volunteers ride weekly with the young people, mentoring, providing instruction, companionship and creating trusting relationships. More than 40 volunteers spend more than 3,600 hours each year to help the young bikers set and accomplish goals including completing the 906 Polar Roll fat tire and Ore to Shore Mountain Bike Epic races.
Select Realty of Marquette received the award in the business community leader category. Select Realty is a full-service real estate company committed to excellence and dedicated to serving the central U.P. Each of the 29 agents and three additional employees at Select has donated upwards of 100 hours of their time for charitable purposes throughout the year. The organization manages a community fund in which every agent donates a portion of their commissions daily. The business also hosts many community fundraisers and participates in charitable community events.