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First Lady Announces 2014 Volunteers of the Year


April 16, 2014, Juneau, Alaska – First Lady Sandy Parnell today announced the recipients of this year’s First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Awards. The recipients were chosen by an executive committee of Alaska community members.

“We are so fortunate to live in a state where so many people dedicate their lives to helping others,” Mrs. Parnell said. “I applaud these Alaskans for their service and encourage others to find ways to strengthen our communities through volunteering.”

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 2014 award recipients are:

Donene Amodo, Village of Akhiok: Volunteering with Green Dot, a violence-prevention program, and with Alutiiq Cultural Week, this lifelong Akhiok resident also gives her time as a community health aide and provides a “safe home” for children.

Phillip Ball, Eagle River: A top wish-granting volunteer for Make-A-Wish Alaska, Phillip helps children with life-threatening medical conditions. Last year, he granted 10 wishes to local children and their families. Phillip is a technical sergeant with the U.S. Air Force.

Robert “Beau” Bassett, Anchorage: For 15 years, Beau has grown the Alaska Points of Light Youth Leadership Institute and has raised money to keep the program growing and provide scholarships to students.

Darrel Hess, Anchorage: Darrel has devoted thousands of hours through numerous local programs and projects aimed at improving the neighborhood, including parks, roads, sidewalks, homelessness, and safety.

Erin “Rinny” Heywood, Juneau: Rinny is a driving force behind a “pay-it-forward” page on Facebook. She facilitates a grassroots effort to help others, with the site serving as a platform to run food drives in Juneau.

Bellanira “Deya” Imdieke, Dillingham: Serving on the board of directors for SAFE, the Safe and Fear-Free Environment shelter and advocacy center, for 18 years, Bellanira (Deya) has given nearly 1,000 hours of volunteer service each year during the past decade, also serving as a crisis line volunteer.

Cynthia Erickson, Tanana: Cynthia serves on numerous advisory councils and boards, and founded Tanana’s 4-H youth group, which gave a powerful presentation at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in 2013 regarding suicide, abuse and child neglect.

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

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