UPPER PENINSULA, Mich. (WJMN) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer recognized volunteer efforts in the Upper Peninsula with two awards on Tuesday.
The Governor and Michigan Community Service Commission named 42 individuals and organizations to receive a Governor’s Service Award. The honor is meant to highlight a commitment to volunteerism, service, or philanthropy.
“Michiganders roll up their sleeves to help their communities and always have each other’s backs,” said Whitmer. “That spirit of service and selflessness defines us and demonstrates the power of getting things done for the people and places you love most. Every year, we come together to honor those extraordinary Michiganders who go above and beyond to serve their community.”
Among the five people selected for Volunteer of the Year is Marcia Gonstead from Big Bay. She is a trustee for the Community Foundation of Marquette County, and has previously served for over 20 years with organizations including the Noquemanon Trail Network, the Yellow Dog Watershed, and the Big Bay Stewardship Council. According to the CFMC website, Gonstead also actively volunteers with the Big Bay Pathway, the Honey Bear Classic, the Big Bay Fall Fest and the Big Bay Community Presbyterian Church.
Andrew Rickauer will be honored with a Community Impact Award. Serving as the executive director of the United Way since 2019, Rickauer has lead the organization’s efforts to organize food donation, financial support for other nonprofits, and countless volunteer service efforts. He also serves as a guide to support blind athletes competing in cross country skiing, running and biking, as well as a member on multiple boards and committees including the Kiwanis Club, Marquette Township Downtown Development Authority, Marquette Trail Running Group, Noquemanon Trail Network, Marquette County Habitat for Humanity, Salvation Army and the Upper Peninsula Land Conservancy.
The Suicide Survivors Fund in Marquette is also set to receive a Community Impact Award. That fund helps support family and loved ones after someone takes their own life by assisting with after-death costs. It is managed by Six Feet Over, and was founded by Dave Aro after he recognized the need following the death of a friend and neighbor. Marquette is the only county in the state that has funding to offer such services.
A formal ceremony will be held Nov. 28 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.
Full list of winners:
Governor George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award: Helen Knar Cirrito (East Lansing)
Lifetime Humanitarian Award: Roland Hwang (Northville)
Excellence in Philanthropy Award: Gilbert Family Foundation (Detroit), Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation (Birmingham)
Spirit of Hope Award: Tracy Edwards (Lansing), Jeremiah Steen (Detroit), John Zaretti (Canton), Bruce Millan and Barbara Busby (Detroit)
Youth Volunteer of the Year: Vishal Swamy (Novi), Skyler McAlpine (Warren), Sawyer Hendrickson (Ludington), Mason Schlafer (Norton Shores), Julian Morris (Saginaw)
Volunteer of the Year: Moussa Niang (Detroit), Diane Young (Benton Harbor), Marcia Gonstead (Big Bay), Cisily Zuniga (Muskegon), Bob Hoffman (East Lansing)
Older Adult Volunteer of the Year: E.T. Buck (South Haven), Brenda J. Byrd (Ypsilanti), Ann Heler (Ferndale), Robert Spencer (Battle Creek), Eleanor Lopez (Mt. Pleasant), Ursulina (Nina) Gulledge (Roscommon)
Youth Impact Award: Sgt. Bryant George (Detroit), My Sister’s Keeper (Highland Park), Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency – School Success Partnership Program (Alpena), Gro-Town (Grosse Pointe Woods), Grand Haven High School Interact Club (Grand Haven)
Community Impact Award: Andrew Rickauer (Marquette), Andrea Garcia Ryan (DeWitt), Bread of Life Food Pantry (Baldwin), Suicide Survivors Fund (Marquette), Women of Colors (Saginaw)
Corporate Social Impact Award: Kellanova (Battle Creek), Steelcase (Grand Rapids), The Mitten Brewing Company (Grand Rapids)
National Service Impact Award: Diana Rodriguez-Algra (Lansing), Carolyn Bloodworth (Jackson), Kyle Caldwell (Grand Rapids), Julie Calley (Portland), Sam Singh (East Lansing)
Visit www.michigan.gov/GovernorsServiceAwards for winners’ full biographies and more information.