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Reflecting upon the significant difference that engaged Wisconsin citizens have made within the state, Governor Tony Evers stated that the 2021 Governor’s Service Awards would be “honoring nine Wisconsinites and five organizations in our state that are spearheading positive, impactful change through their service to the people of Wisconsin.”  He continued, telling the honorees that they “have made a real difference thanks to your tireless efforts to support and help your fellow Wisconsinites. But your service is not only outstanding because of the impressive, quantifiable impact you have had in the number of students served, masks made, meals delivered, and many other important measures. It’s also outstanding because of the compelling stories of the impact you have had on folks and entire communities across the state.”

The Governor’s Service Awards honors outstanding volunteers, AmeriCorps and AmeriCorps Seniors participants and programs, and AmeriCorps alumni that address serious social needs across Wisconsin, including specific recognitions this year for those responding to COVID-19. The 2021 awards were presented on August 4th and were sponsored by Serve Wisconsin, the state commission for national and community service.

“We’re excited to start a new tradition this year by recognizing Wisconsin AmeriCorps Seniors who have served for 20 years or longer,” stated Jeanne Duffy, Executive Director of Serve Wisconsin. “It is with great pleasure that we recognize the hard work and dedication these 221 outstanding individuals have shown for their communities throughout the decades.”

Addressing this group of long-term volunteers that have served their communities for at least two decades since turning 55, Governor Evers said “to the 221 AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers who have reached that impressive milestone in volunteer service, on behalf of our entire state, thank you for your hard work and dedication. Your service is an inspiration to all of us.”

Describing the impact of the service by the honorees during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes said, “there have been so many significant challenges and setbacks for individuals for families and communities all across Wisconsin and this country. But your selfless and tireless work, did something to help improve the lives of many. And for that, I want to say thank you, because for a lot of folks, there were no other options and there was no one else to turn to. Without you, without your work, who knows what life would have been like for the individuals who have been on the receiving end of your service.”

Lt. Governor Barnes continued his closing remarks at the ceremony by connecting their efforts with the service of countless others during the pandemic as a path forward, stating that their “service providing resources to fellow Wisconsinites is deeply appreciated not just by myself, but by all of us…Throughout these tough times, it has been the volunteers, just like honorees today, that have inspired us all to believe that an end to the pandemic is possible and that everyone doing their part is the exact way that we achieve that goal.”

A recording of the ceremony is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpGPVqXPkJ0   

Service descriptions for each honoree are available here.

Additional information about the Governor’s Service Awards, including past winners, can be found at https://www.servewisconsin.wi.gov/governors-service-awards

2021 Governor’s Service Awards Honorees

AmeriCorps Member of the Year Honoree:

Tre’ Wafford – College Possible Milwaukee (Milwaukee, WI)

AmeriCorps Program of the Year Honoree:  

Department of Public Instruction AmeriCorps Farm to School Program (statewide)

AmeriCorps VISTA Member of the Year Honoree: 

Colin Mackey – Habitat for Humanity of Wisconsin (Baraboo, WI)

AmeriCorps VISTA Program of the Year Honoree: 

Wisconsin Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (statewide)

AmeriCorps Alumni of the Year Honoree:

Katherine Matisse – originally served with Teach For America Milwaukee and currently the Executive Director of TwoBirds Tutoring Co.  (Milwaukee, WI)

AmeriCorps Seniors Volunteer of the Year Honoree:

Mildred “Dolly” McGeshick – Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council Senior Companions Program (Crandon, WI)

AmeriCorps Seniors Program of the Year Honoree:

Copper Lake / Lincoln Hills Foster Grandparent Program (Irma, WI)

AmeriCorps Seniors Lifetime Impact Volunteer Honorees:

Betty Elsner – RSVP of Dane County, Inc. (Stoughton, WI)

Sally Vyvyan – Southwestern Wisconsin Community Action Program – Foster Grandparent Program (Westby, WI)

Volunteer Coordinator of the Year: 

Maryssa Paulsen – MCHS Volunteer Wisconsin at New Leaf Foods, Inc. (Green Bay, WI)

COVID-19 Response Service Awards:

Lisa Penterman – Be Well Fox Valley AmeriCorps Program (Appleton, WI)

Don Strube – RSVP Program of Portage County (Stevens Point, WI)

Marshfield Clinic Health System AmeriCorps Volunteer Wisconsin (statewide) Silver Threads – RSVP Program of Portage County (Stevens Point, WI)

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