Every day volunteers across the Upper Peninsula give their time, talent, voice and resources to help make the U.P. a special place to live. Individuals, community groups and businesses play key roles in addressing critical community issues such as hunger, homelessness, the environment and services for youth, veterans and the elderly.
Great Lakes Center for Youth Development recognizes and celebrates these unsung heroes with the annual U.P. Service Awards. Recipients are honored during a luncheon program at the U.P. Nonprofit Conference in Marquette each fall. Nominations for 2017 awards will be open in April. Nominations are open to any volunteers in the U.P. Anyone may submit a nomination. Self-nominations are welcome. Check back this spring for nomination details.
2016 U.P. Service Award Recipients
Youth Award: Stephanie LaFoille, 16, of Manistique is a member of the Schoolcraft County Economic Development Corporation (SCEDC). Her volunteer work on the SCEDC board has been vitally important as she represents her generation’s voice in discussions and decisions regarding her community. Her duties include participating in monthly SCEDC meetings, representing the organization across the county and attending events including county commission meetings and township board meetings. In addition to LaFoille’s work with the SCEDC, she is co-chair of The Grind Student Coffee Shop Board of Directors. She helps place flags on veteran’s graves for Memorial Day. She volunteers with Hiawatha Behavioral Health Friends Helping Friends Hotline for suicide prevention. She is also on the Youth Advisory Committee and Youth Entertaining Teen Ideas at Manistique High School.
Adult Award: Susan Madden of Marquette has served as a volunteer most of her adult life including various roles within Zonta Club of Marquette County over the past 30 years. She volunteers regularly as part of the U.P. Health Care team in addressing dental hygiene needs of the elderly, especially those in nursing homes, and provides services to those in need. She provides free dental hygiene care in schools and takes extra time to educate students on the importance of oral healthcare. Madden has also volunteered as a friendly visitor for patients without family support at Marquette General Hospital, on special projects for the Women’s Center and Harbor House as well as with Room at the Inn, North Star Academy and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
Senior Award: Del Compton of Marquette has served as board President of U.P. Family Solutions in Marquette since the organization’s inception in 2009. He supplied start-up funds for the organization to become established. Since then he has remained vital to the agency’s overall strategic vision. Compton has long been active with Marquette Kiwanis and its annual chicken barbeque. In 2006, he joined North Country National Scenic Trail Association and became certified as a chain sawyer which is required by the National Park Service in order to use a chain saw on the trail. Compton has also served in various officer positions over the last 45 years with the Marquette Investment Club. His long history with that organization underscores his dedication to coaching Marquette residents on the importance of investing and saving.
Volunteer Program Award: Northern Michigan University’s Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) is a two-year leadership development program celebrating its 25th year. SLFP students are matched one-on-one with a community mentor and complete a community service internship of more than 100 hours. During the first year of the program, mentors volunteer their time to provide guidance, support and community networking for the students. Site advisers volunteer in the second year, providing guidance, opportunities, and assistance as the students complete their internships. Last year, students coached Special Olympics, organized after-school programs for children and outreach for hunger relief and environmental preservation, assisted elderly citizens, raised funds for cancer and cystic fibrosis research, taught music, microbiology, theater, and reading to youth and English as a second language to international students.
2015 U.P. Service Award Recipients
Youth Award: Christopher Wendt of Newberry began volunteering at age 7. Upon hearing about the Indian Ocean tsunami on the news, he felt compelled to help and started a penny fundraiser at his school. As a teen, Chris made a huge impact in his community by volunteering during the Duck Lake Fire to help evacuate residents and provide emergency shelter. Chris volunteered every day for nearly three weeks. He reported for duty first thing in the morning and was among the last to leave at night. Chris continues to serve his community in numerous ways.
Adult Award: As a Buddy-to-Buddy Volunteer Veteran Program volunteer, Alfonse VanHese of Daggett provides peer support and links resources to service members and veterans in the Upper Peninsula. He provides Buddy-to-Buddy representation at Michigan National Guard Armories in Gladstone and Kingsford and attends additional events. As a disabled veteran, he is dedicated to assisting others navigate the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare and benefits systems. He also dedicates many hours as an American Legion Association U.P. Service Officer.
Senior Award: Pamela Jackovich of Marquette has volunteered at the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans in Marquette for over 20 years. She started a weekly cribbage night and has helped with BINGO games, coffee socials, holiday parties, a carnival, an old car show and more. She has been especially active in the “No Veteran Left Alone” program, comforting dying veterans in their final hours. With her assistance, the Jacobetti Home has been able to offer more and improved programs and activities to veterans.
Business Community Leader Award: Bill and Pat Digneit, owners of Double Trouble DJs in Marquette, work behind the scenes to make many area events a success. The Digneits are identical twins, but that’s not all they have in common — both have an unwavering commitment to community service. Volunteering their time and donating their services and equipment often takes an event to the next level. They have initiated a number of landmark community events including the Downtown Rail Jam, which has become an annual success.
Volunteer Program Award: The all-volunteer Friends of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park operates many important initiatives at the park. Porcupine Mountains Folk School offers hands-on classes in arts and crafts. Porcupine Mountains Music Festival provides three days of music on two stages. The Artist in Residence Program allows artists to create in a wilderness setting. A mini-grant program provides school groups with funds to explore the history of the park and local activities such as copper mining.