Virginia Governor recognizes nonprofits and community volunteers

Each year, the Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards recognize the outstanding contributions of volunteers and organizations throughout Virginia.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced this year’s winners on Nov. 23.

“The challenges of the past year have made it more important than ever to honor the incredible volunteers who have gone above and beyond to make a difference in their communities,” Gov. Northam said in a press release.

Organized by the Virginia Service Commission in partnership with the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism and the Virginia Service Foundation, the awards have been given out for more than 20 years. This year’s winners across 10 categories are highlighted below.

Outstanding Community Organization – CrossOver Healthcare Ministry (Richmond)

CrossOver Ministry offered COVID-19 testing and vaccinations for the uninsured on top of its typical medical care. Despite a 15-percent reduction in volunteer capacity, the nonprofit remained open every day and vaccinated more than 1,000 patients. Its 300-plus volunteers donated more than 22,000 hours of service in 2020.

Outstanding Faith-Based Organization – Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church and Church of the Incarnation (Charlottesville)

The churches offered free COVID-19 testing events, thanks to more than 300 volunteers, that targeted the community’s must vulnerable populations. In addition to more than 8,000 tests, the churches also helped individuals and families with financial support to pay for rent, medications, food and personal protective equipment.

Outstanding Education Organization – Codefy (McLean)

Students teaching students is the backbone of Codefy, which saw a lack of female representation in technology fields and computer programming classes in their own school and started a nonprofit to provide free computer programming courses to middle school and high school students. Two years in, more than 600 students in Virginia and around the country are learning from more than 600 volunteers.

Outstanding Small Business – Doswell Limited Partnership (Ashland)

A natural gas power generation facility, Doswell Limited Partnership provides energy to more than 1.2 million Virginia homes and empowers its 32 employees to bring energy to nonprofits in their community. It has a longtime commitment to Hanover County’s Day Health Program and Raft House that assists those with mental health, substance use and developmental disabilities and has aided the county’s parks, the county’s schools for STEM and music programs and nonprofits like Toys for Tots and Special Olympics.

Outstanding Corporation – Capital One Coders (Richmond)

Inspiring students to consider computer science as an attainable and exciting career path, Capital One Coders, 1,400 volunteers strong (more than half from Virginia), spent more than 24,000 hours with nearly 5,000 students in 2020. The students learn basic coding concepts, how to build mobile apps and websites and other coding languages. More than 75 percent of participants are from underrepresented minorities in technology, and more than half are girls.

Outstanding Senior Volunteer – Betty L. Robinette (Wytheville)

Robinette took action when a local homeless shelter closed first by bringing together faith and civic leaders to serve warm meal then by creating the Open Door Café. The donate-what-you-can concept serves food insecure individuals and families, averaging 91 meals per day.

Outstanding Adult Volunteer – Mechele Hairston (Chesapeake)

After two Hampton Roads neighborhoods saw their last remaining grocery store close, nearly 18,000 people faced food scarcity challenges. Hairston and 400 volunteers distributed nearly 800,000 pounds of free food – or about 1.6 million meals – in 2020.

Outstanding Young Adult Volunteer – Lucy Cummins (Richmond)

Cummins was assisting with Spanish interpretation and translations services with The Health Brigade. When the pandemic hit, she helped design a safe and efficient testing system, ensuring that volunteers were prepared to work with the many individuals who came in for services.

Outstanding Volunteer Family – George and Kim Melnyk Jr. (Virginia Beach)

The Melnyks, the owners of Premier Millwork, produced collapsible desks for low-income students who lacked desks for virtual classes and homework. The Desk for Success program has assisted more than 2,100 children.

Outstanding Youth Volunteer – TJ Kim (McLean)

A teenage flight student, Kim chose to help serve his community by creating Operation SOS (Supplies Over the Skies). He has completed 22 missions, sourcing and delivering 85,000 pieces of PPE and ventilator supplies to 21 locations in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!

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