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Area women honored by first lady

Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2001

Good deeds do not always go unnoticed.

Two area women recently were recognized for their time spent volunteering for worthy causes.

June Harris of Kenai and Marge Hays of Soldotna are recipients of the 2001 20th annual First Lady's Volunteer Awards presented by Susan Knowles, wife of Gov. Tony Knowles.

Twenty-two volunteers from across Alaska were selected from more than 150 nominees. The award honors Alaskans who have volunteered countless hours to programs, events and services that make Alaska a better place to live and work.

Hays was nominated for the award by her longtime friend Sammy Crawford for her work as the chair of the Governor's Commission on Aging and for her work with the League of Women Voters. Hays also volunteers her time for the local chapter of the Pioneers Board and mediation training sessions, organized by Dan and Heidi Chay.

 

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"She is just one of those team players that wants to see things happen and wants to see things work," Crawford said.

Hays, a former teacher, said she retired because she needed more time to volunteer for the Commission on Aging. Since retiring, she has devoted her time to other volunteer efforts, as well.

"It is like a half-time job," she said.

Hays said she did not expect to be honored for volunteering but was touched by the unexpected nomination.

"(Sammy) turned up one day with flowers and said a plaque was coming," she said. "It was very nice. I was very honored."

Hays said she knows the community is loaded with volunteers like her.

"I don't now if they all have as much fun as I do, but I bet some of them do," she said.

Crawford said Hays' volunteer efforts are appreciated by many in the community.

"She just has really done a lot," Crawford said. "She is just a very special person to a lot of people."

 

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Harris was nominated by Heather Arnett and Emily Aley for her work with the Women's Resource and Crisis Center. She recorded working more than 2,000 hours last year, the equivalent of a full-time job.

Arnett, director of WRCC, said Harris is the primary player of the Sexual Abuse Response Team.

"June is the lead advocate that responds to sexual assault cases," Arnett said.

As a volunteer advocate for the SART team, Harris often is on-call 24 hours a day.

Harris worked at WRCC in the late 1980s. Her final job was the manager of the emergency shelter in Kenai.

She resigned in 1990 and has volunteered since that time.

This is the second award she has received for her work at the center.

"She has been an incredibly active volunteer," Arnett said, adding that Harris also is the president of the WRCC board of directors.

The total hours Harris volunteered last year did not include her work on the board.

Arnett said she recently found that Harris co-founded the annual Kenai Peninsula Run for Women held annually in August.

"That's very exciting that she originated that," Arnett said.

Harris said learning about the award was emotional for her.

She was presented with a cake by WRCC staff and board members and was read the letter of nomination.

"It brought me to tears," she said. "I enjoy my work at the center, they are a great group of people."

Harris said volunteering always has brought her enjoyment.

"It has always been a personal achievement and a personal satisfaction," she said, adding she volunteers for WRCC because she likes making a difference.

Being publicly noticed for her efforts is strange but appreciated, she said.

"It is like it is happening to someone else," she said. "I am proud, I'm honored and humbled."

She said she began her career at WRCC as a volunteer 17 years ago and is proud of what the center has accomplished through the years.

"We are respected in the community, and I enjoy that," Harris said.



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