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First Lady Announces Volunteers of the Year April 2013

April 23, 2013, Juneau, Alaska – First Lady Sandy Parnell announced today the recipients of the First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Awards. The recipients were chosen by an executive committee of Alaskan community members.

“It is an honor to continue this exceptional tradition that recognizes citizens who have given their time and talent to help others,” said First Lady Parnell. “Our state is blessed to have so many Alaskans dedicated to helping their communities, fellow citizens, and encouraging others in volunteerism.”

The First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Awards are awarded to those who engage in volunteer activities within Alaska, show remarkable personal commitment to long-term volunteer service, or have made a substantial impact on their community or the state.

The 2013 Volunteer of the Year recipients are:

Earline Smith, Juneau: For more than two decades, volunteer and mentor Earline Smith has given countless hours to the youth at the Johnson Youth Center (JYC) in Juneau. Earline exudes joy and passion for living a full and long life, which has left an indelible impression on youth who were placed at the center. Her strength of character and the 92 years of wisdom she has acquired make her a welcome presence at JYC, and a steady influence in the greater Juneau community.

Steve Fishback, Anchorage: With his continuing volunteer contributions to the design and construction of Camp Fire Alaska campsite facilities, and through his leadership of volunteer work crews to keep these construction projects on schedule, Steve Fishback makes a difference in the lives of thousands of Alaska’s youth. His behind-the-scenes work has created the backdrop for positive camp memories that stay with campers throughout their lives.

Patricia Myers, Fairbanks: Patricia Myers is an informal “auntie” for youth who are pursuing a second chance at the Fairbanks Youth Facility. Patricia visits the detention center weekly, where she mentors and leads students toward transformation and personal development. Her dedication over several years provides a consistent and positive influence in the lives of youth who may have never before experienced such kindness.

William Gaines, Anchorage: William Gaines is known to his students and football players in the Anchorage area as “Coach Wiz.” He devotes countless hours to the Alaska South Central Pop Warner Football and Cheerleading program, which he helped launch, as well as the Boys and Girls Club, where he also coaches. Gaines is a testament to all who face challenges, helping them find the inner strength to overcome hardship.

Dr. Robyn Rehmann, Anchorage: Dr. Rehmann is recognized not only for being a long-time educator in the Anchorage School District, but for her decades of volunteerism, helping women in need, the homeless, and those with disabilities or special needs throughout the community. She is known to provide shelter to expectant or unwed mothers and abused women, and is a long-time board member of ASSETS, where people with disabilities are assisted with job placement and independent living.

Richard Groff, Cordova: Serving for more than 40 years as a volunteer firefighter in the communities of Ketchikan and Cordova, Richard Groff makes public safety and disaster response his core mission. He works to organize and empower community-based response teams that will be trained and ready to assist during and after disasters.

Terrence T. Jason Shanigan, Anchorage: As an Alaska State Trooper, Terrence T. Jason Shanigan embodies the Trooper motto: “Loyalty, Integrity, Courage.” This Aleut leader instills positive values in those whose lives he touches. He spends countless hours helping homeless Alaskans, and is known for his dog-mushing trips to rural communities to address the issues of suicide, sexual assault, and substance abuse.

The volunteers will be recognized at a luncheon and ceremony on May 10.

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