Introducing the 2014 Be The Change Award Winners

Congratulations to the 2014 Be The Change Award winners, announced last month at our Volunteer Expo. Award winners are honored for going above and beyond in making an impact on their communities. We were thrilled to meet all 4 of these amazing volunteers. Honorees received a certificate of thanks, and nominating nonprofits were awarded a financial donation on their behalf. 


Judy Olhoft, Kids ‘n Kindship

Judy has been a volunteer mentor for 3 years to a girl who is almost 14 years old. As a mentor, Judy connects with her mentee every week for fun and enriching activities such as cooking together, doing crafts or scrapbooking, ice skating, bike riding, helping with homework and more. Judy is unique in that she is always looking for ways to help her mentee. She has attended webinars and trainings in order to learn more about how to help her mentee to achieve her goals and thrive. She has spoken with her mentee about what she wanted her life to look like and together they made a plan to make progress towards her long-term goals to have a family, a house, a job in a pastry shop, a business management degree, & a pastry chef degree. In the words of nominator Ingrid Henry, “Judy is a fantastic role model for her mentee and for other mentors!  We couldn’t ask for a better volunteer!

Jesse Flanagan, Mano a Mano International 

Jesse gave over 170 hours of his time to Mano a Mano in 2013. He has gone 3 times a week to pick up orthopedic supplies that would otherwise be thrown away. Instead, these supplies have been shipped to 141 rural health clinics in Bolivia, providing desperately needed, quality health care to rural residents. At the same time, he has saved these items from ending up in MN landfills, making his impact felt both locally and globally. Jesse puts in hours at Mano a Mano’s warehouse organizing boxes, painting walls and cleaning, and he takes on every job with a smile. He is also a fluent Spanish speaker, and his translation work has improved efficiency in programming for the organization. According to nominator Dana Dallavalle, “Jesse’s enthusiasm for the work Mano a Mano does inspires our three-person staff to work even harder in his honor. He’s a true asset and will make this world a much better place.”

Carolyn Roberts, Tamarack Nature Center

Carolyn has been volunteering with Tamarack Nature Center for 3 years, and is approaching 700 hours of service with them. As the Lead Volunteer in the area of Animal Care and Handling, Carolyn not only works on the front line – providing proper care for educational animals, such as turtles, snakes, salamanders and owls – but she also works behind the scenes to train and supervise 15 other volunteers. Carolyn has an innate sense of the curiosity of kids, and is always ready to share with them. If a turtle is ready to eat, or a snake is shedding its skin, Carolyn is there to make sure that everyone gets a chance to experience the special moment. In 2013, when Tamarack Nature Center was without a consistent volunteer coordinator for 6 months, Carolyn made sure animals were cared for, volunteers were supported, and visitors had a wonderful experience at Tamarack. Nominator Melanie Harding tells us “Carolyn is a remarkable person, a model volunteer, and a great example of someone who is making the world a better place.”

Yohanis Shitta, Lino Lakes YMCA (Outstanding Youth Volunteer)

Yohanis has been a participant in Lino Lakes Y programs for several years, and was a founding member of their Leaders Club. He has been president of the Leaders Club for the last year, and under his leadership, the group has doubled in size and increased its annual volunteer hours from 250 to over 650. Nominator Sam Alley says of Yohanis, “He is a true leader in our community and we appreciate all of his hard work.” 

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