2011 Governor’s Points of Light Awards finalists

Congratulations to all 2011 Governor’s Points of Light Awards finalists! All of the finalists will be honored at the Gala Awards Dinner next month on October 27th.

Marla Turner
Secretary, Nevada State Democratic Party
Team Leader, Obama for America
Overall Cheerleader for Grassroots Activism


Nonprofit Volunteer Programs
Nathan Adelson Hospice (Las Vegas): The Nathan Adleson Hospice incorporates 270 volunteers, ages 15 to 90, into their programs for patients and their families in Las Vegas and Pahrump. The volunteers are an integral part of providing support for the organization’s mission to ensure that no one dies alone, afraid or in pain. Volunteers give emotional support during trying times and provide skilled-services such as counseling or alternative therapies. For over thirty years, countless families in southern Nevada have benefitted from the extraordinary compassion of these incredible volunteers. Volunteers also assist with fundraising events that help expand care and community counseling, support a pediatric hospice program called Camp Mariposa, and provide educational programs for health care professionals.

Three Square Food Bank (Las Vegas): Three Square Food Bank has built a volunteer base of more than 7,000 people, logging more than 66,000 volunteer hours in 2010 (the equivalent of 32 full-time employees) to combat hunger through the use of third party events and the hard work of over 600 program partners. Specific programs include the Kids Café Program to provide nutritious super meals to children in need and the Neighbors for Nutrition program to ensure children receive adequate nutrition during summer break. Three Square Food Bank does extensive outreach to the community to ensure that volunteers are drawn from all economic sectors and populations. They give their volunteers a chance to excel and treat both their volunteers and their clients with dignity and respect.

Trauma Intervention Program of Northern Nevada (Reno): The Trauma Intervention Program (TIP) sends out volunteers to assist survivors in the immediate aftermath of devastating personal experiences. They answer the call of emergency first responders to provide comforting words as well as practical support such as water, blankets, phone call assistance, child care, and clean-up. This allows the professional personnel, such as fire crews and police, to focus on other vital tasks, knowing that the victims are in the hands of caring and competent individuals. Volunteers must undergo intensive training, and so the Trauma Intervention Program utilizes prominent recruitment campaigns to grow its volunteer base.


Corporate and Business Volunteer Programs
NV Energy (statewide): NV Energy’s volunteer program is multi-faceted. From creating comforting space for crime victims in Reno, to helping weatherize a senior citizen’s home in Las Vegas, NV Energy facilitates active volunteerism for their employees statewide. Over 400 employee volunteers hosted 5 energy assistance expos across Nevada to help thousands of seniors in financial distress. NV Energy’s Dollars-for-Doers grants reward dedicated employee volunteers with small grants to the employee’s nonprofit choice. In total, employees gave more than 24,000 hours of community service in 2010 and served on over 140 nonprofit boards.

Blue Moon Promotions (Reno, NV): Blue Moon Productions actively encourages their employees to volunteer and become leaders in their community as members of nonprofit organizations themselves, even if it occurs during work time. The employees have supported diverse efforts including the American Heart Association, Washoe County Safe Kids Coalition, Solace Tree, and Step2, a program for chemically dependent women and their children. The owner, Klaus Grimm, has been an original board member and founding contributor of the Nevada Discovery Museum where he has gone above and beyond for the 5 years leading up to the opening of the museum this fall.

MGM Resorts Employee Volunteer Program (Las Vegas, NV): MGM Resorts encourages its employees to engage the community through company-wide volunteer campaigns, which in 2010-2011 have included: a Make a Difference Day campaign that brought out over 2,000 employees to volunteer, a Back to School Donation Drive that filled 2,200 backpacks with school supplies, a KLUC Toy Drive that filled 8 vans with toys, a Three Square Food Drive that netted 38 tons of canned food, and a MGM Foundation Walk-A-Thon where 3,000 employees walked to raise money for their charity of choice. MGM’s volunteer program excels when it comes to providing the right volunteer for the project, whether it is a strategic person for a “big scope” project, or a socially-gifted person for social events.


Volunteer Managers
Rebecca Dirks Garcia (Las Vegas): Rebecca Dirks Garcia has a very full plate, handling 650 volunteers for the American Red Cross Southern Nevada Chapter. Rebecca has raised the quality of the chapter’s volunteer management practices immensely. She has established a volunteer team, volunteer intake process, filing process, and has been the backbone to recruitment. She revived their volunteer recognitions events and has been instrumental in nominating their volunteers for national awards. She developed tools for Volunteer Supervisors to help them manage the volunteers there are responsible for through volunteer job descriptions, follow-up interviews, surveys, and tracking the number of volunteer hours. Besides providing such vital management leadership, Rebecca Dirks Garcia is a teacher and an inspiration—one of the most dedicated individuals the chapter has seen.

Cynthia “Cindy” Craft (Henderson): As a Volunteer Coordinator for the Clark County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Program, Cynthia Craft’s exemplary volunteer management skills have never been so needed as they have in this past year. When the CASA staff was deeply cut due to budget constraints, Cynthia stepped forward to try to fill the gap. Through careful research, she helped to develop and implement three different volunteer operated pilot projects to meet the need: volunteer Office Support Staff, volunteer Court Monitors, and the volunteer Peer Coordinator Project to mentor newly trained volunteers. These new programs have addressed the fiscal challenge in a creative and effective way, which enables the nearly 300 CASA volunteers to continue to represent about 700 abused and neglected children in the Clark County Child Welfare System.

Gabrielle Totton (Reno): Gabrielle Totten’s commitment to her volunteers in the Trauma Intervention Program of Northern Nevada (TIP) is personal, resulting from the tragic loss of her mother when she was 13. She has been building the volunteer program from scratch since she was hired ‘part-time’ to launch TIP in 2009. She manages a team of specially trained community volunteers who are called by law enforcement, paramedics, and other emergency responders at all hours to support victims of traumatic events. In the first 18 months of operation, her 30 volunteers have donated over 30,000 hours of service. Gabrielle not only uses quality volunteer management skills to recruit, screen, organize and train volunteers, but her compassion, grace, and infectious humor enables each volunteer to feel genuinely treasured and nourished as they deal with the challenge of responding to such traumatic incidents on a regular basis.


Individual Volunteer: Rural
Sandy Jennings (Pahrump): The 3rd largest county in the contiguous United States is Nye County, and Sandy Jennings covers it all for Nevada SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program). Sandy not only provides Medicare counseling for Medicare eligible people in Pahrump, but she travels throughout the 18,146 square miles of the county to bring Medicare information to its 12,150 Medicare eligible residents. She also provides ongoing training to SHIP volunteers, eliminating for them a 100 mile drive to the Las Vegas SHIP office. She never says no to an opportunity to spread the word to potential recipients in her community, finding creative ways to distribute flyers and participate in events on behalf of SHIP.

Kent Aveson (Elko): The designated park land had sat idle in Elko since 1997, when a group of citizens joined forces four years ago to propose a Peace Park for the city. Kent Aveson became the hub of that group. He has worked tirelessly to turn the open land into a quiet, meditative space complete with a labyrinth pathway and natural landscaping. Kent Aveson serves as the President of the nonprofit foundation which has received $920,000 of corporate and governmental grants. He has found innovative ways to work with public agencies, corporate agencies, and the community, mobilizing thousands of volunteer hours to bring the park close to completion. Through every stage of the process, Kent was there, literally all the time, and his devotion has resulted in a unique and beautiful place for the citizens of Elko to enjoy.

Robert Bilbray (Laughlin): When the recession hit Laughlin, Robert Bilbray knew it was time to act. He formed a nonprofit Laughlin Economic Development Corporation to make Laughlin’s citizens aware of the help that was available, bringing in outside speakers and developing ideas to tackle the problems. One potential solution is to allow locals to determine their own fate through incorporation, and Robert has organized a painstaking financial feasibility study to establish the basis for any such action. He also had spearheaded a diversification project to build a thin film solar plant and solar farm near the site of a closed coal power plant, whose existing transmission lines to Southern California increase the project’s feasibility tremendously. Robert Bilbray’s ongoing commitment to Laughlin spans many years and a wide variety of roles, but in this effort he has gone to extraordinary lengths to raise Laughlin up from the downturn.


Individual Volunteer: Northern Nevada
Chris Reed (Reno): From the outside, Chris Reed seems like an exemplary employee because she can do everything needed at the Northern Nevada Chapter of the Red Cross. She is not an employee, though, she is a volunteer, one who served for over 2000 hours this past year. Chris is the Client Services Supervisor for the Chapter, recruiting, training, and mentoring the volunteers who ensure the needs of disaster clients are met. Chris’ heart is super-wide, and the thank you notes she receives, from both volunteers and disaster victims, attest to her compassion, patience, and exceptional leadership skills as she goes to great lengths to ensure that the clients find the resources they need to make their lives whole again.

Michael Ginsburg (Reno): The rumor is that Michael Ginsburg never sleeps—how could he with the list of things he does for the Reno/Sparks area? Besides being an active volunteer for the Reno Area Triathletes and the Pyramid Lake Triathlon, he has also risen to the challenge from the loss of one community swimming pool that was beyond repair and budget cutbacks that threatened the closure of the other remaining pools. Adopt-A-Pool was Michael’s creative answer to the problem, gathering together over 100 volunteers to do the work needed to get the pools open for the summer. He also formed the Sierra Nevada Community Aquatics Foundation (SNCA) to facilitate the replacement of the permanently closed pool. Michael dives right in to organize the main annual fundraising event, bringing a new state of the art aquatic facility closer to reality every year.

Darryl Feemster (Reno): Darryl Feemster knows what the youth of Reno need. Whether the child is rich or poor, black or white, they all need the same thing—love and compassion, and someone that believes in them. Fifteen years ago, Darryl began his journey of mentoring youth by founding the Youth City Council, which gives young people direct access and understanding of how the city works. Today, he works tirelessly for Project Solution, a nonprofit that helps homeless children and children aging out of foster care. From job skills and life skills, to education assistance, Darryl seeks to provide resources for these youth to become law-abiding, self-sufficient individuals. One of Darryl’s remarkable gifts is his ability to bring people, government agencies, nonprofits, and church groups together to provide a holistic solution to the problems youth are facing today.


Individual Volunteer: Southern Nevada
Dr. Florence Jameson, M.D. (Las Vegas): Dr. Florence Jameson remembers the family doctor who gave her and her family care even when her mother, raising five children alone, could not afford to pay. Now Dr. Jameson is a successful obstetrician with a busy medical practice, President-Elect of the Nevada State Medical Association, past President of the Clark County Medical Society, and the founding visionary for Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada. VMSN opened its first free clinic in January of 2010 to provide health care to the uninsured. With a staff of four and more than 600 volunteers, VMSN is the primary health care provider for 1,600 Las Vegans who have no insurance. Even with this success, Dr. Jameson sees there is so much need that she works tirelessly to recruit more volunteer doctors, looking to retired physicians as a valuable resource, and is moving toward expansion by building two more clinics.

Tammy Richardson (Las Vegas): Tammy Richardson’s selfless dedication to the Citizen Soldiers of the Troopers of the Wildhorse Squadron is astounding. As the Squadron Family Support Group Leader, Tammy was the lead support for the families of over 700 soldiers from 8 states, while they were deployed in Afghanistan. She managed family care issues, information operations, casualty notifications, wounded warrior visits, assistance with Red Cross messages and emergency leave, and any other task in support of the families. She is always there for the families, and despite this enormous task, takes time to volunteer beyond this military service mission for other agencies: the Nevada Childhood Cancer Foundation’s Camp Cartwheel, the Las Vegas Ride for Kids, and the ‘Parents Helping Parents’ program of Candle Lighters of Southern Nevada.

Frank Mahoney (Henderson): In 2007, out of compassion for the families of missing adults, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department went to Frank Mahoney and asked him to help. Frank created the Nevada Center for Missing Loved Ones (NCMLO) which has closed over 600 cases, a 90% success rate, with the help of volunteer specialists to canvass computer databases, neighborhoods, homeless shelters, vacant apartments, and the Las Vegas strip. He has also organized an integrated consortium of small airplanes, hikers, ATVs, and a mounted horse unit for desert searches. Frank’s leadership and tenacity saw through the passage of the Statewide Alert System for the Safe Return of Missing Older Persons, which establishes a Silver Alert system to get the word out about missing seniors. He is also seeking corporate sponsorship for a Senior Identification Protocol to register seniors in a database that will include current photos and information to aid law enforcement if they should become lost.