Presenting the 2015 ‘Be the Change’ Award Winners!

Congratulations to the outstanding ‘Be the Change’ Award winners, announced last month at the 2015 Volunteer Expo. These individuals were honored for their service to their community through their longstanding volunteer work with nonprofit organizations in Minnesota. This year’s pool of award winners included individuals who had volunteered upwards of 15 years, flown across the country to provide service, raised over 75,000 dollars for their organization and more. We are thrilled to highlight the amazing work that has been done by these dedicated volunteers! The award winners received a certificate of honor, and the nonprofits that nominated the winners received a financial donation on their behalf.

Award winners - group

Be the Change Award Winners (from left) Bob Scholz, Tom Rustemis, Anna Rice and Julie Gilbertson.

The descriptions below are summaries taken from the nominator letters provided by each nonprofit organization.

Bob Scholz, DARTS


Award winner Bob Scholz with nominator Erin Walloch and Glacier Hills Elementary teacher, Ms. Kelly.

Bob has been a dedicated, passionate, reliable and consistent Learning Buddy since 1998. Bob mostly helps students in the subject areas of math and science. If Bob’s volunteer hours are calculated, he has spent over 1800 hours in Ms. Kelly’s room! Bob provides opportunities for students to express themselves, learn, and have fun while doing it! Bob makes an impact in the classroom, school and his community by encouraging students, building their confidence, and supporting their learning. He is an inspiring community member who is greatly appreciated by Ms. Kelly, her students, Glacier Hills Elementary, and DARTS.

Tom Rustemis, Be the Match


Tom is renaissance volunteer, serving well over 50 hours a month in multiple capacities for our many program areas of the National Marrow Donor Program, and Be the Match. Tom has acted as volunteer chair for the Minneapolis Be the Match Walk+Run. This is a fundraising event that helps patients with blood cancers like leukemia find a marrow donor and receive a life saving transplant. Tom also provides his expertise in logistics and training as a mentor for other volunteers. Tom serves as a committed volunteer courier, hand carrying and transporting bone marrow donations by plane, train and car from wherever the donor is in the world, to the patient waiting for a second chance at life. Tom offers his courier service for some of our most complicated courier trips which can be arduous and exhausting. Tom’s impact is enormous! His volunteer gift has contributed has contributed directly to Be the Match through his dedication to changing how we do our work, fundraising, awareness, support and in his efforts to help a generous marrow donor provide the gift of life to a patient looking for a lifesaving change.

Julie Gilbertson, Metro Blooms

Julie has volunteered with Metro Blooms for 11 years, in various different roles. Julie has served on the board for the organization, chaired annual community events, spread Metro Blooms’ mission at expos, led fundraising events and much more. Volunteers are drawn to Julie’s leadership, dedication and creativity. Along with volunteering as a garden evaluator, she has also contributed her environmentally savvy expertise for numerous stormwater projects in the community. She is a tireless volunteer, always dreaming on how to improve things, engaging clean water conscious folks, creating amazing decor, and all with such humbleness and an aversion to recognition.

Anna Rice, Pinky Swear Foundation (Outstanding youth volunteer)

Anna was inspired to get involved with Pinky Swear Foundation ten years ago when she was just 7 and participated in her first MiracleKids triathlon. Over the past ten years, her passion, drive and involvement with the organization has made herNO9A0427 Pinky Swear’s #1 fundraiser for kids with cancer and their families She began by just raising pledges specifically for the triathlon, but each year her ambitions grey and she began placing with the top 5 fundraisers with other creative ideas for raising money. To date, Anna has raised over z$75,000 dollars for the Foundation and last year raised $25,000! Her involvement does not stop at fundraising. Anna is a top leader for the Youth Leadership Corps, and this summer she will be working as a Junior Intern where she writes and oversees a blog that communicates important events, fundraising tips, triathlon preparation advice and films how-to videos encouraging other kids to get involved.

Do you have volunteer stories to share and celebrate? Comment below with your stories of the volunteer superstars in your life!

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