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2016 MAVA Excellence Award Winners

Excellence in Volunteerism Awards

Winner (14-18 yrs): Molly Piotter
Molly Piotter has volunteered all throughout her life, she has been serving others in various roles. Whether it has been a helper at countless 4-H events, church functions, or at nursing homes, she has always been a servant leader and role model. Through 4-H, Molly constantly volunteers at after school adventures, Cloverbuds, project days, Ambassadors, Fantastic Fridays, and promotional events. Along the way, she has inspired others to volunteers as well. For a 4-H project, she developed an oversized/easier to use “Kerplunk” game for nursing home residents to use which they really enjoyed. She pursed a project through Thrivent, obtaining some funds that she used to make greeting cards for clients in the nursing home and assisted living to use at their leisure or for the staff to use for birthdays of clients or other events. Molly is what every club leader hopes to have in their club, someone willing to help during meetings, help younger members, willing to give input during the meeting but also listen to other thoughts and ideas. Molly is the definition of what the 4-H encourages in its motto: “Make the best better.”

Winner (18-24 yrs): Austin Shinnick

Austin Shinnick has been a dedicated and reliable volunteer with Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute’s (CKRI) Adaptive Sports and Recreation Department since 2010, when he started volunteering as a high-schooler with the Adaptive Alpine Ski and Snowboard program. Since then, Austin has racked up almost 250 service hours in programs that run only once a week for a maximum of twelve weeks a year, and despite taking two seasons off while attending college. Austin is a highly skilled and versatile volunteer who others look to as a leader. He works well in a variety of settings with both children and adults of varying abilities. Austin has shown himself to be an ambassador and champion of CKRI Adaptive Sports and Recreation. Austin has recruited several friends to join the CKRI Adaptive Sports and Recreation team as volunteers, and he encourages current athletes to try new sports within CKRI Sports and Recreation. As one of his 9 year old students stated in her letter of support: “Austin is great and nice!”

Winner (25+): Matthew Sanford

Matthew Sanford has been volunteering at Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute since 1997, when he offered his yoga teaching skills to the head of Therapeutic Recreation to create a unique opportunity for people at Courage Center. Today, Matthew has volunteered over 1,400 hours and has brought on a team of yoga volunteers that include 6 volunteer instructors and over 25 individual volunteers to assist in the 3 adapted yoga classes that are held weekly at Courage Kenny. His key message to his teachers and students continues to be to shift the ways in which yoga is perceived. He wants to “level the playing field for all people.” Matthew has brought creativity, tenacity, and many hours of volunteer service to Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute since 1997.

Mary Wiser Award for Excellence in Volunteer Administration

Winner: Jackie Maas

Jackie Maas is the City of Plymouth Volunteer Coordinator. Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2018, Jackie leads the most successful city volunteer program in the state. She recruits, interviews and manages more than 2,900 volunteers – and she meticulously records statistics to show value-added, year-to-year comparisons and more. For instance, Plymouth volunteers contributed 39,000 hours in 2016 by donating $921,313 of in-kind contributions or the equivalent of 18.8 FTEs. Jackie is an effective leader of Plymouth’s Volunteer Program demonstrating integrity, treating people with respect, collaboration, creativity and innovation, all with a down-to-earth and humble touch. Jackie’s professionalism, leadership and commitment to excellence shine brightly in her daily interactions with volunteers, city staff members and peers in other organizations. The Volunteer program in the City of Plymouth has grown tremendously under the supervision of Jackie Maas. She takes great pride in all she does, is courteous, a friend to all around her and always looking for ways to expand the volunteer program through her many contacts. By maintaining her relationships with people she keeps them informed of what the city volunteers have to offer. Through this communication the city has received new requests from various groups.

Award for Excellence in Volunteer Program Development

Winner: Amy Rager

Amy is the State Program Director for the Minnesota Master Naturalist Program (MMNP). MMNP teaches adult volunteers about the natural and cultural history of the three major MN biomes, giving them information and inspiration to accomplish impactful public interpretation and stewardship projects. Amy spearheaded the development of a volunteer life cycle model that illustrates the connection between volunteer motivation, training, and support. Amy has engineered extensive collaborations among more than 500 partner agencies and organizations that have produced synergies to make possible the 10,000+ hours of advanced volunteer training and hundreds of service opportunities each year that keep volunteers engaged. In 2017 she anchored the development of an entirely new volunteer program focused on Aquatic Invasive Species. While Amy is a well-recognized national leader in the field of natural resource volunteer programs, she also personally models selfless contribution to the naturalist community through her own volunteer activities. A strong team of professionals work together to lead the MMNP today, but Amy’s vision, drive, and initiative stands at the core of all that happens. She knows the volunteers, and they adore and respect her. It is to her credit that the program is what it is today.

Volunteer of the Year 2017

Winner: Judie Russell

Judie is the former Director of Volunteer Services for Children’s Home Society of Minnesota. She is a licensed social worker with over forty years of professional experience in human services. Judie has served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Volunteer Center in St. Paul, as co-chair of the Advisory Council for the United Way of Minneapolis Volunteer Center, as a consultant and trainer in volunteer administration, and as past president of the Minnesota Association of Volunteer Directors. She is a frequent presenter at state and national conferences. Judie provided leadership for the planning teams of Volunteer Leadership 2000 for over seven years, culminating in the founding of the Minnesota Association of Volunteer Administration. Judie is currently a long term member of MAVA’s Board of Directors and serves as MAVA’s volunteer grant developer and writer and project manager for many of MAVA’s initiatives. Judie has made MAVA her full-time volunteer job and has spent countless hours strategizing, researching, reaching out to community partners and bringing innovative new projects to MAVA. Much of MAVA’s growth can be attributed to Judie’s hard work in bringing grant funding to MAVA. Judie is a true thought leader; her brilliant ideas frequently result in innovative new approaches, strategies and programs for MAVA.