The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 9, 2013

Caring awards instill caring spirit

By Samantha Pidde Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — Area volunteers were honored Thursday at the third annual Caring Awards.

The River Bluff Community Foundation presented awards to three community members nominated by the local non-profit organizations at which they volunteer. Keynote speaker Sister Anne Martin Phelan emphasized the importance of these individuals, who work in the community to make a difference.

“What would we do without volunteers? Where would our communities be without volunteers?” Phelan asked. “They really are the backbone of the good works that are done.”

Phelan added that she is in awe of those who see a need, stand up to fill that need and never takes “no” for an answer.

The River Bluff Community Foundation, affiliated with the Community Foundation of the Great River Bend, strives to grow its permanently-endowed fund, the Community Impact Fund. The organization uses this endowment fund to give grants to organizations within the community, based upon specific need.

“The more we grow the fund, the better we can do,” President Carol Machael said.

River Bluff Community Foundation secretary Francie Hill, board member Mark Regenwether and Machael presented three awards to the recipients. Each awardee received a check of either $1,000 or $500 for the non-profit organization that nominated them.

As a master-degreed nurse, awardee Tami Leavens volunteers weekly at L’Arche and assists several times each month with child immunizations and breast cancer screenings at the VNA. She has been the coordinator of the Clinton Support Group for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a condition she struggles with as well.

The Felix Adler Children’s Discovery Center nominated Leavens for her three years of service on the board of directors. She comes in weekly to arrange and clean the gift shop and helps in grant writing and other duties.

“They said of her ‘Tami is the type of individual who anticipates people’s needs before they themselves even realize they need help,’” Machael said. The Discovery Center will receive $1,000 in her honor.

The second honoree, has been actively involved in bringing “Getting Ahead in a Just Getting By World” to the community. This program helps those in poverty, by taking them through a process to understand how to better function in middle class society. Chris Bruhn has the program meet for three hours one night each week at her church, First United Methodist Church in Clinton.

The Council of Social Agencies nominated her for the award, stating the program could not continue without her. The council received $500 in honor of Bruhn.

The final recipient volunteers at the Clinton County Humane Society, Clinton Area Showboat Theatre, the Women’s Resource Center and the Associate Benevolent Society. Representatives from the society said Amy Johnson can often be found organizing the pantry or with a carload of supplies. If she discovers the society is low on diapers or peanut butter, she goes out and purchases the items. She received $500 for the society.

Associate Bennevolent Society Executive Director Paula Mallory nominated her, stating in the letter “She is an amazing person who puts the needs of others before her own. The world is a better place because she is in it.”

Machael and Phelan encouraged people to become involved within the community and make a difference.

“Be the one who is going to make a difference in someone else’s life, someone else’s circumstances,” Phelan said.