Voices of Alaska: First Lady's Volunteer Awards: A time to recognize all that is good

Since the First Lady Volunteer Awards were founded by Bella Hammond a quarter century ago, hundreds of Alaskans have been honored for their volunteerism in the 49th state.

During the past few years, I’ve been privileged to continue the tradition, and today I invite you to participate by nominating someone on the Kenai Peninsula who demonstrates a personal commitment to long-term volunteer service, and who has had a significant impact on the lives of Alaskans.

Last year’s recipients included a volunteer firefighter in Cordova, a football coach in Anchorage, a mentor at a youth correctional facility in Fairbanks, and a volunteer who works with special needs students in Anchorage. One recipient was a 95-year-old who worked with at-risk youth, and another was an architect who used his skills and time to design and build cabins for a Camp Fire summer camp. Past recipients have also included exceptional teens who have had a great impact on the lives of others.

The day-in and day-out work of Alaska volunteers often goes unheralded. They are not the kind of people who wait for things to change, wish for conditions to be different, or get involved simply to gain recognition. So many Alaskans are change agents with the highest motivation – rolling up their sleeves because they are determined to improve the lives of people in their community.

I’m reminded of a young girl who penned one of the most famous diaries in history. Anne Frank wrote: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Alaskans embody that spirit.

All types of volunteer work are considered for the award, but don’t wait: the nomination period ends March 3. The guidelines note that the volunteer committee is looking at qualities such as length of service to the community or state, extraordinary personal commitment, or significant impact or benefit to the community or state. Awardees are chosen by a committee of Alaskans, and will be honored at a luncheon and ceremony at the Governor’s House in May.

Nomination information is available at volunteerawards.alaska.gov, or contact Lindy Irwin at 907-269-7450 or email governor@alaska.gov with other questions.

I look forward to reading about the good service of Alaskans who make our state strong, vibrant, and an extraordinary place to call home. Thank you in advance for taking the time to nominate and share the stories of these wonderful people in our community.

Sandy Parnell is First Lady of Alaska.

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