This morning, the Volunteer Center of Southwestern Fairfield County honored extraordinary volunteers at their Sixteenth Annual Stamford Volunteer Day Award Ceremony. Award winners, nominators, community leaders, families, coworkers, and friends gathered at the to honor the award recipients.
“Community leaders nominate volunteers based on achievement, commitment, caring, and creativity,” Victoria Zerjav said. “We read so many wonderful stories about people who give so much.”
Beginning with the youth awards, nominators were invited to introduce their award recipients and speak about their organization and the honoree’s contributions.
’s buildOn program was honored as Outstanding Youth Volunteer Group and Hayley Siegel, a member of buildOn received the Oustanding New Youth Volunteer Award.
“Last year, buildOn dedicated 2,887 hours of service, they’re already on track to break that record this year,” Laura Reard, program coordinator for buildOn, said. “They haven’t just grown in number, they’ve grown in heart.”
Astha Patni received the Outstanding Established Youth Volunteer Award for her work at the and with Future Farmers of America.
The Outstanding New Female Volunteer Award went to Keri Ellrodt for her work at . Ellrodt came up with the idea to plan a course for DOMUS students that would prepare them to apply for a job. Of the seven participants, six were able to find work and all six are still employed. Ellrodt also pledged to hire one of the students in the program at Aeropostle after they completed the program.
The Outstanding New Male Volunteer Award went to Ian Tiedmann, a teacher at Greenwich High School who has given his time tutoring at the .
Saint Joseph’s Parenting Center, a new non-profit that provides educational programs to at-risk adults to help them be successful parents, honored Monica Sommer with the Outstanding Established Female Volunteer Award.
The Outstanding Established Male Volunteer Award was given to Samuel Roberts for his work with Stamford Public Education Foundation and Junior Achievement.
Volunteers from offices in Stamford and Greenwich were honored with the Outstanding Adult Volunteer Group Award. The team, led by Fabrizio Zichichi, spent every Friday during June 2011 working on landscaping projects in .
“It’s an intensive landscape,” Milton Puryear, Executive Director at Mill River Collaborative, explained. “May and June are the months that require the most work, if you’re not on top of it, it’ll swallow you whole.”
Brenda Kugeman presented the Outstanding Female Volunteer Award to Dr. Eugenia Zavras. Every year, Zavras prepares parents and students at for a trip to for the annual river walk trip.
“She takes students on a wonderful learning experience,” Kugeman said.
Alexander Forbes was honored at Outstanding Male Senior Volunteer for his work at Connecticut Welcome Center. Forbes advises visitors and even prepares itineraries to help visitors to experience Connecticut landmarks.
Jennifer McKeon, President of the Springdale Neighborhood Association, presented both the Outstanding Volunteer Couple Award to Kathy and Steven Kligler and the Outstanding Volunteering Family Award to the Nestor Family.
"They truly give the gift of their time," McKeon said. "They're instilling that in their children and I admire them for that."
The Spirit of Volunteerism Award was presented to Carmine Vaccaro. Vaccaro, who began volunteering in Stamford in 1956 and has never stopped, has worked with organizations including ARI, the , Old Timers, , and Toys for Tots.
The Community Service Award was given to Barbara Leffler of the . Leffler serves as Volunteer Coordinator and is so ever-present in the book shop that many are surprised to learn she is not a staff member.
“I’ve never seen a volunteer work harder,” Margaret Metwally, a board member for the Friends of Ferguson Library, said.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Courtney Nelthropp for his work revitalizing the Stamford projects, mostly built in the 30s, 40s, and 50s and falling into disrepair. Nelthropp was instrumental in the establishment of Charter Oaks and has recently worked with Stamford Hospital to provide healthcare access to underserved populations.
“Of course, when you get the Lifetime Achievement Award, it doesn’t mean you get stop volunteering,” Eichler laughed.
The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Gerrianne Delaney for her work with
“Gerrianne volunteered to create a volunteer program, but we could never have predicated the passion, energy, talent, and creativity she would bring to developing a volunteer program from scratch,” Catalina Samper Horak, Executive Director of Neighbors Link Stamford, said. “When Neighbors Link first opened, Gerrianne averaged 50 hours a week volunteering—she has since “cut back” to 30. One mother said to her, “Thank you for loving our children so much.””
Honorable mentions went to Karen Adams, Isabelle Benoit, Daniel Burke, Jeff Bullen, Yelka Chaparro, Kim Dickinson, Beverly Fitzgibbons, Marlene Gatz, Genworth Financial, Emily Jetter, Leslie Palazzo-Kane, Nadine Little, Lisa Miller, Annmarie O’Malley, Cindy Schwartz, Allison Simpkin, and Caroline Simpkin.