Unsung heroes: Community Fund honors ‘emerging’ volunteer, senior volunteers
The Community Fund of Darien has shared a list of their ‘Unsung heroes’ volunteer appreciation volunteers for 2020. The Darien Times will share their individual profiles. Here is the group of volunteer profiles for the emerging volunteer, and three senior volunteers.
Outstanding emerging volunteer — 18 and younger
Norwalk Stamford Grassroots Tennis & Education
Campbell has been an instrumental asset to Norwalk/Stamford Grassroots Tennis & Education (Grassroots), a youth development 501 (c) 3 nonprofit whose mission is to build strength of character and a foundation for success for underserved youth through tennis and education. The group relies on incredible volunteers like Campbell in order to keep its doors open and provide critical support, resources and opportunities to over 250 low-income student-athletes in the South Norwalk and Stamford areas. For the past three years, Campbell has worked closely with Grassroots staff, and other volunteers, to ensure that our programs are effective for our students.
Campbell volunteers during the school year and summer on the tennis court and with elementary school students assisting with their homework and facilitating fun activities with the students.
Campbell is incredibly reliable and an absolute pleasure to work with, engaging and supporting adults and kids alike. It is abundantly clear he is passionate about giving back to the community and doing everything he can to help those around him achieve success.
“Grassroots is truly fortunate to have Campbell part of our community - we wouldn’t be able to do all that we do for our kids without his help,” the organization said.
Outstanding Senior Volunteers
Judi Linskey, Darien Community Association
For almost 25 years, Judi Linskey has reflected the spirit and mission of the DCA, bettering our community in the process. Beginning in the late 1990s, and for over a decade, Judi managed the beloved DCA Thrift Shop. Located on the Post Road, the shop dates back to the Depression and provides a vital community service for those shopping on a budget, as well as an opportunity for 50 volunteers to help others.
Judi’s retail savvy and her own thrill of a “great find” was invaluable to the success of the shop. Today, more than 1,800 customers make purchases each month. Judi’s dedication to the DCA and its philanthropic work led her to join our board of directors. She has served on the scholarship committee (including as chairman) for 10 years, where she is a strong advocate for Darien High School (DHS) graduates and the need-based scholarships that help to support their college aspirations.
Over the years, the DCA has granted more than $2 million in scholarship awards to more than 1300 DHS graduates. As chairman of the rentals committee, Judi worked to create a new structure and professional staffing that provided rental clients with a choice of caterer, improving the DCA’s outreach and appeal.
“The DCA is proud to serve as a beautiful venue for many community gatherings and nonprofit events. We are grateful for Judi’s leadership, practical approach, and ability to tackle any challenge head-on —with kindness, as well as a wonderful sense of humor,” the DCA said.
Jane Marrone, The Carver Foundation of Norwalk
The Carver Foundation of Norwalk is delighted to nominate Jane Marrone as an outstanding senior volunteer. Jane is a retired licensed professional counselor who spent many years working in the Bridgeport Public Schools. Jane graciously approached the Carver Community Center to offer mentorship to high school students planning for college.
During 2019, she provided regular one-on-one mentoring to Carver high schools students preparing their college essays and applications. With Jane’s support, one of our 2019 graduates received Carver’s highest scholarship honor, a $10,000 per year scholarship for four years. This student is studying pre-medicine at Norfolk State University.
Jane continued her mentoring of Carver high school seniors this school year. Students received support with their college essays, college application, and navigating the college admission process. With the guidance from Jane, students are more confident in their college selection and making more informed decisions about their futures. In addition to her important work with our students, Jane also served on Carver’s Darien Connections Committee to help introduce friends to Carver and encourage event attendance at our October cocktail party.
“Jane’s volunteerism is truly inspiring and we are deeply grateful for the many ways she advances Carver’s mission of building lifetime achievers,” the Carver Foundation said.
Michael Wheeler, Family Centers, Inc. (Literacy Volunteers Program)
Michael Wheeler serves as a volunteer tutor teaching English as a Second Language to adults living in Stamford. He has volunteered in this role for ten years and continues to provide excellent leadership, support and instruction to his students. Mike is dedicated and committed to his group of students and consistently has the highest number of student attendance, engagement and retention in the entire program.
Mike pays attention to the critical everyday life needs of students and carefully prepares lessons that reflect his concern that they succeed in their new country and are able to share their many talents to enhance their communities. He is always willing to take on new challenges teaching Civics education and instruction focused on workplace language and skills development. Working with high intermediate English language learners enables Mike to help them not only fine tune their language skills, but to learn about how their local and national government works, practice skills necessary for succeeding in the workplace, and experience the richness of American culture.
Through a series of lessons, Mike taught his group some of the theme songs from Hamilton, using it as a vehicle to teach US history, music and just have fun learning. Mike regularly encourages students to reach outside their comfort zones and access online learning tools, enabling them to study more independently and read more in English, which is a key to improving their language skills. Mike is not only an inspiration to his students, but to the Literacy Volunteers staff and other volunteer tutors as well, always sharing his new ideas about teaching and leading by his example.
“We are grateful for Mike's creativity, enthusiasm and deep commitment to his students and the program overall. He is the genuine article,” Family Centers said.