Meet the Winners of the 2016 Governor's Outstanding Volunteer Awards

Photo Credit: Dan Trader Photography

Arts and Culture Recipients 

Carolyn Apple
In November of 2012, Carolyn Apple began her volunteer efforts with the Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs and brought to the attention of the Division a large collection of more than 600 WWII era photographs, personal papers and objects from Delawarean, William D. Willis, who served as a photo technician with the Army Air Force during WWII. Over 600 volunteer hours later, Carolyn’s efforts resulted in World War II: Through the Lenses of William D. Willis, an exhibit that opened in Legislative Hall in March 2015, and has since traveled throughout Delaware.  Carolyn has also been instrumental in the success of other exhibits and has helped to increase donations of more WWII memorabilia which expands the discussion.  Through the volunteer service of Carolyn Apple, veterans are able to share an integral part of their lives with their children and grandchildren.

Joshua M. Freeman Foundation Volunteers 
The Joshua M. Freeman Foundation brings diverse arts programming in the genres of dance, live music, theatre and children’s shows during the summer season to Sussex County.  The diversity in the programming is matched by the breadth of volunteers that support the programming, as well as the day-to-day operations of the Arts venue. Ranging in age from 15 to 82, the 147 volunteers of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation served a total of 5,228 hours, helping to continue the growth of the positive impact this nonprofit arts organization has on the community.  The Joshua M. Freeman Foundation provides exceptional customer service annually to over 56,000 patrons, which includes over 14,000 Sussex County school students who might not have the opportunity to experience the performing arts.

Community Service Recipients 

Irvin Ambrose - Representing Irvin Ambrose were his two daughters 

For the past seven-and-a-half years, Irvin (“Irv”) Ambrose has been an active volunteer for Downtown Milford, Inc., a 501(c)3 that promotes quality civic, commercial and cultural development of the historic business distract of Milford, DE.  Irvin has also been instrumental in making the City of Milford a better place for all citizens through a variety of beatification projects, fundraising initiatives and outreach to new businesses that help all of Milford to grow and thrive. Irv has dutifully served the residents and business owners of downtown Milford in a multitude of roles all focused on making his home ward and the City of Milford a better place for all of it’s citizens and visitors.

Terri Nellans Brown
Terri Nellans Brown has served on the Mom’s House of Dover Board for 15 years and helped to conceive one of its greatest fundraising sources, “Dancing with the Delaware Stars.”  Mom’s House is a non-profit organization whose mission is to provide free high quality daycare for single parents who are in full time schooling to complete their high school or college education.  As Mom’s House does not receive state or federal funding, it relies completely on community fundraising.  The first year of Terri’s “Dancing with the Delaware Stars” resulted in $14,000 and has grown each year since.  The proceeds from this now annual fundraiser generates approximately 50% of Mom’s House’s operating budget and has benefitted hundreds of children in Kent County.

Dover AFB Airman Leadership School
In 2015 alone, the Dover AFB Airman Leadership School (ALS) Cadre personally dedicated over 280 hours in planning, coordinating, and participating in volunteer events throughout the Dover community. In total, they have motivated and led over 215 individuals, amassing 1,000 plus man-hours dedicated to improving the overall Dover community through ten different events.  The ALS Cadre has made it a point to establish, coordinate, and lead one volunteer effort, sometimes two, for each of their seven classes annually.  Recipients of the ALS Cadre volunteer service includes the Delaware Veterans Home, local schools, Shepherd’s Place in Dover, Habitat for Humanity and “Girls on the Run.”

St. Philips Hospitality Team
Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.  This goal is the heart and soul of the mission of St. Philips Episcopal Church’s Hospitality Team in Laurel. The St. Philips team welcomes and shelters adult groups, college teams and high school student volunteers who travel to Sussex County to build and repair homes.  The St. Philips Hospitality Team spent 2,000 hours in 2015 taking care of the volunteers who gave up spring breaks, summer vacations and long weekends to build homes in Sussex County.  The care provided included cleaning the accommodations, providing ice and cool beverages, and providing, preparing and serving a meal each Wednesday evening, allowing the travelers to concentrate on building homes.


Education & Literacy Recipients

The ARK Educational Resource Center
The ARK Educational Resource Center tutors are a group of five faithful, dependable individuals who spent over 400 hours combined working with students of Western Sussex County, grades K through 12.  The ARK Tutors do more than just work one-on-one with students who are struggling.  The tutors work with the families when there is a language barrier, adjust their own schedules when a student’s extracurricular activities warrant a change, attend meetings at their student’s school, recruit new ARK volunteers and fundraise to make ARK programs available for more students. 

Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith has been volunteering with the Delaware Division for the Visually Impaired for seven years, performing a wide variety of tasks for the education unit, benefitting students throughout the entire state of Delaware.  Beginning with learning the policies and procedures for material preparation, Kelly expanded on these procedures and began training other volunteers to create large print books and perform other much needed tasks for the staff and students of the Division for the Visually Impaired.  In 2015 alone, Kelly served over 140 hours.

Environment Recipients

Rosann Ferraro
Rosann Ferraro walked into the Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, Inc. facility located in Newark in the spring of 2004 and since then has spent over 3,500 hours helping to care for hundreds of injured birds.  Rosann has an enthusiasm for wildlife, and a genuine interest in people, which enables her to be a natural mentor to the newest volunteers, instilling the fact that one person can make a difference to an injured or orphaned wild bird.  In addition to mentoring and training new volunteers, Rosann staffs exhibit tables, cleans birds contaminated with cooking oil, leads group tours at Annual Open House events and in 2015 alone donated overt 300 hours in various roles.

Nanticoke Creekwatchers Citizen Water Monitoring Program
Every other Sunday or Monday from late March through early November, Nanticoke Creekwatchers visit at least one of 36 water quality monitoring sites located in the Nanticoke River watershed. During the 2015 season, 37 Nanticoke Creekwatchers participated in the program serving a total of 1,011 hours. Without the Nanticoke Creekwatchers Citizen Water Monitoring Program, Nanticoke River watershed residents and government agencies would have much less water quality data, thereby reducing their ability to address water quality concerns and potential health issues.

Native Plant Sale Committee Volunteers
The eight members who make up the Native Plant Sale Committee for the Delaware Nature Society are a dedicated group of volunteers with a collective love of plants, environmentalism, and sustainability, whose expertise and native plant knowledge is on par with some of the best horticultural professionals. The Native Plant Sale Committee Chairs work closely with staff to plan, organize and manage the annual Sale held at Coverdale Farm each spring.  This event is the largest annual fundraiser for the Delaware Nature Society, which allows them to continue their work in conservation, education, preservation and advocacy throughout Delaware.

Health & Special Needs Recipients

Christiana Care Health System Cuddle Volunteers
Since October 2014, a team of 50 volunteers have been holding and providing comfort to the tiniest and most fragile patients: the babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) unit, both of which are located at Christiana Care Health System. While holding a baby may seem like an innate skill, these babies are medically fragile patients that require specially trained individuals to ensure their safety and comfort.  Having the cuddler volunteers available when nurses are stretched to their limit and the parents are not available has provided an invaluable service to the babies, their families and the caregivers.

Sarah "Sally" Richardson Oberle
Sarah “Sally” Richardson Oberle is a dedicated volunteer who has averaged 200 hours per year with the Delaware Ovarian Cancer Foundation (DOCF) since its founding in 2009.  For more than seven years, Sally has continually volunteered in a variety of indispensable roles with DOCF to advance awareness of ovarian cancer through the state of Delaware.  She has helped to raise vital revenues by working diligently on several major fundraisers, as well as initiating, developing and managing cancer awareness projects. As a result of Sally’s efforts, more women are informed about the symptoms and this knowledge encourages women to seek out medical care sooner

Salvation Army Sparkle Team
Most volunteers sparkle and shine, while others actually make things sparkle and shine! The Salvation Army Sparkle Team readies newly constructed Habitat for Humanity homes by cleaning and “sparkling” them for the new homeowners.  Each of the six-member team is affected by developmental challenges but that does not stop them from fully engaging and committing to their work. As they scrub floors, vacuum carpets, wipe down cupboards and clean bathrooms, this team takes “sparkle” as literal and put their hearts into preparing 12 homes in 2015, for a total of 412 hours.  In addition to the service work performed for Habitat for Humanity, the Sparkle Team also serves with CHEER, Inc. and Meals On Wheels Delaware by collecting and delivering food.

Patricia Trump
After a 22-year career as a Navy nurse and then a second career as the Director of an assisted living facility, upon retirement Patricia Trump turned her energies to volunteer service.  For the past nine years, Patricia has been volunteering for Compassionate Care Hospice, logging a total of 368 hours in 2015.  In addition to the invaluable service Patricia provides for the staff and families of Compassionate Care Hospice, she has also volunteered with numerous cancer awareness organizations, served as a mentor for the Sussex County Veteran’s Court, helped repair homes after natural disasters, been deployed to assist medical efforts in developing countries, conducted faith-based outreach and helped at a homeless shelter.

Healthy Futures Recipients 

Brandywine Village Network Volunteers
Brandywine Village Network volunteers are instrumental in ensuring older adults throughout northeastern New Castle County are able to successfully age independently in their own homes.  In 2015, 183 volunteers provided 3,116 hours of assistance to help 112 older adults age in place. In addition to performing meal preparation, shopping assistance, routine light maintenance and other service, the volunteers provide friendship and companionship to older adults who may otherwise be isolated with few social supports.  Volunteers’ collaborative efforts create a neighborhood of support providing older adults a greater peace of mind that they can remain safely and independently in the place they call home. 

Shea Faucett-Robinson
Shea Faucett-Robinson has been active over the last five years helping to increase awareness of an unspoken and debilitating disease, Sickle Cell Disease Anemia.  Following the death of her husband, James Faucett III from Sickle Cell Disease Anemia in 2012, Shea has spent over one hundred hours annually to help increase awareness of Sickle Cell and promoting the need for adults to have access to high quality specialty care for this disease after the patient has aged out of children’s hospital or a pediatric care setting.  Shea serves on the Disability Advocacy Network (DAN) committee at her employer Bank of America which helps non-profit organizations network with bank employees and raise money for sickle cell, autism, substance abuse and other conditions.

Lori's Hands at UD
Lori's Hands at UD college student volunteers provide in-home support to Delawareans with chronic illnesses like cancer, MS, Lou Gehrig's disease, and heart failure. Students assist those community members with grocery shopping, yard work, household chores, and other tasks made difficult by disease.  In 2015 Lori’s Hands at UD provided over 2,400 hours of service to their clients and community. In addition, Lori’s Hands volunteers are a major source of companionship for clients who are often homebound due to health concerns. The support provided by the students help with the clients’ missions to remain as independent as possible in the community as they age in place.

Marsh Uebler
Over the past 18 years, Marsh Uebler has spent well over 2,000 hours volunteering in the Ronald McDonald Family Room at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware.  Her volunteer duties include welcoming families, welcoming children to the playroom and providing supervision to these children as needed, and helping keep the Ronald McDonald Family Room clean and welcoming.  In addition, Marsh is very helpful in training new volunteers and providing helpful feedback at volunteer meetings. Most importantly, Marsh, and volunteers like her,  provide a comforting presence for families who are faced with a stay in the NICU.

Human Needs Recipients

Caring Hearts - Helping Hands

Caring Hearts-Helping Hands was established in 2002 and is staffed entirely by volunteers supporting low-income working families in Kent County.  The families are invited to shop (free of charge) in the warehouse maintained and operated by the 14-member volunteer staff who served over 2,500 hours in 2015. Caring Hearts-Helping Hands also conducts Holiday and Back-to-School programs, as well as maintaining a Wish List of critically needed items (like a bed, for example) and if that item is donated, the volunteers will often arrange delivery to the family in need. Caring Hearts-Helping Hands is a 501(c)3 organization whose entire funding stems from community fundraising efforts and grants secured by the volunteers.

Robert Heffelfinger
As a volunteer Team Coordinator at the Family Promise Moving On In Team Bob Heffelfinger spent over 180 hours in 2015 helping homeless families transition into their own home. Last year, over 30 families with children were moved from homelessness to a place of their own in New Castle County by Bob’s volunteer team.  Bob celebrated a new beginning with each family by taking a photo in their new home.  In addition, Bob coordinates a team of volunteers with vehicles to pick up donations of household goods and furniture for use by the formerly homeless families.  He is also fundamental in the recruitment and training of new volunteers.

Elaine Jones

As a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Foster Children and Youths in the Family Court of Delaware, Elaine Jones wanted to do more.  From this desire came Loving Arms Ministry, whose mission is to raise awareness of and help with the needs of foster care and youth in the state of Delaware.  Elaine Jones and Loving Arms Ministry at The Resurrection Center provide referral information to those interested in foster care, sponsor informational sessions for other organizations, partner with 501(c)3 organizations to provide gifts and other items for children within the foster care system and help to recruit other members of the community to get involved.

Social Justice & Advocacy Recipient

John Elzufon, Esq.  - Receiving the award in his place was Seth Katzen

For more than 30 years, John Elzufon has been an active lay leader and volunteer for the Jewish Federation of Delaware. In 2015, it is estimated that John volunteered 156 hours promoting positive relations and interactions with other cultural, religious and ethnic groups, advocating civil rights for all members of the community, fighting all forms of prejudice and discrimination and creating educational programs on domestic issues such as human rights and constitutional protection.  John is a dynamic volunteer whose work affects the entire state of Delaware. The impact of his efforts touches not only the more than 13,000 members of the Jewish faith in our state, but his work and dedication crosses all cultural groups and different faiths.

Public Safety Recipient 

Talleyville Fire Company

Since 1928 the Talleyville Fire Company has been a volunteer-based organization whose main purpose is to protect and serve the local community.  In addition to answering fire/emergency calls, which can number anywhere from 1200-1300 per year, Talleyville Fire Company also works to educate the public about fire safety, and always looks for ways to support local community and volunteer-based organizations like the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware. In total, the group with a core of more than 50 active volunteers, serves 10,000 hours per year in the community with answering fire calls, educating the community about fire prevention, and organizing the annual Talleyville car show, which serves to raise awareness and funding to help families stay close to their children during serious medical crises, at the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware.

Veterans & Military Families Recipients

Elizabeth Byers-Jiron

In 2015, Elizabeth Byers-Jiron spent over 3,000 hours providing assistance to veterans through multiple veteran-based activities.  The retired Department of the Navy civilian serves as Executive Director for both Delaware Veterans Stand Down and the Delaware Veterans Awareness Center.  She is also the founder of Give a Vet a Smile program.  The organizations have provided thousands of veterans with resources related to housing, medical/dental treatment, mental health referrals, legal assistance, financial assistance, and employment.   Elizabeth offers veterans an avenue to meet and identify their needs, with her ultimate goal being that the veterans achieve independence and self-sufficiency.

Louis J. Callazzo, III

Former Marine Louis J. (Nick) Callazzo, III has been fundamental in the development and realization of Victory Village, a transitional housing program for homeless veterans and a one-stop place for all veterans who need assistance in their transition from military to civilian life.  In bringing Victory Village from a rundown facility to one in full federal, state and county compliance, over the past three years Nick Callazzo has donated approximately 5,000 hours of volunteer service. During the nomination year of 2015, he donated more than 1,250 hours of time to Victory Village.

Delaware State Parks Veterans Corps
Beginning in October 2015, the five-member group of veterans serving with AmeriCorps have been protecting open space and enhancing native habitats on state park lands.  The AmeriCorps veterans each spent 1,700 hours protecting and conserving Delaware’s natural resources, and their efforts left an indelible mark on the landscape of parklands statewide, benefitting approximately five million annual visitors. Despite diverse backgrounds and unique life experiences, the AmeriCorps veterans have formed a cohesive unit, established goals and are progressing towards achieving, and likely surpassing, expected performance outcomes.