Ten awards were presented at the Be More Awards celebration on March 28, 2017 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. You can watch clips of each award presentation here - or see the specific links in each recipient bio.
The City of Bloomington Volunteer Network, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, the IU Credit Union, the United Way of Monroe County and WTIU Public Television salute all of the nominees who give so generously of their time and talent to the community.
The Be More Awards are presented in partnership by:
Reova Meredith began the Center for Women’s Ministries, offering Bloomington women 30 years of excellent, free counseling. Having experienced the value of professional counseling herself, Reova was struck by the unfair reality that many others do not have the financial resources to access this type of care. By founding and supporting this organization, Reova has allowed countless women access to counseling they sought. The course of women through the program provides an opportunity for them to give back through volunteer counseling. Reova has expertly designed a pairing system that other professionals in the field refer to and utilize. Reova sets a beautiful example for others in the Bloomington community to step up and address a need they see. Her hard work and innovative approach have allowed many women to get the assistance they desire. Watch a video clip of her award.
Each family celebrates the holidays a little differently; we could all learn from Lindsay Schroeder’s commitment to service as a hallmark of her holiday season. For many years, Lindsay has designed and created hand-sewn ornaments to raise money for WildCare. Lindsay works at College Mall Veterinary Hospital, and is able to sell her ornaments there throughout the holiday season. Her ornaments are so beautiful and such a long-standing tradition, many times visitors at her workplace come not to receive veterinary care but specifically to purchase one of Lindsay’s ornaments! Lindsay’s impact is difficult to measure, but her hard work, on top of a full time job and parenting a four year old, proves that one person’s efforts and compassion truly make a difference. Watch a video clip of her award.
Fred Parker’s commitment to the solid presence of jazz music in the Bloomington community is tireless and immeasurably fruitful. When many jazz venues closed in Bloomington, Fred found himself energized, seeing this as an opportunity. He helped an existing organization adapt to a changing music culture through B’Town Jazz. Fred’s work has allowed jazz to reach an estimated 20,000 listeners over the last 10 years. Fred handles a great deal of work behind the scenes of jazz performances around town, from organizing months ahead of time to taking down equipment after events. Without his long-lasting support of this art form, jazz musicians and jazz lovers alike would not have the plentiful opportunities they have today. Watch a video clip of his award.
Marge Penrod has been donating her time as a volunteer each Wednesday at Opportunity House for 41 years -- close to 2,000 days! Her knowledge about jewelry and skill in jewelry repair are invaluable assets to Opportunity House, creating a dependable income stream that benefits many. The proceeds from the Opportunity House thrift store supplement child care costs for families with children in the Monroe County United Ministries day care. This allows parents to work, knowing their children are safe and involved in developmentally appropriate activities. Marge offers Opportunity House a unique set of skills and unmatched humility and dedication. She is one of the pieces of a puzzle that quietly holds our community together and makes it a better place for those who struggle. Watch a video clip of her award.
The young people involved in the Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth have committed to educating others about critically important environmental concerns. Their members work hard and smart to spread information about addressing these concerns. They also successfully promote changes everyday households can make, such as installing solar panels and they advocate for important climate legislation. Negative environmental changes will have disastrous effects for our global neighbors and for future generations. These young people are incredibly professional and hardworking and are placing environmentalism at the forefront of community discussions. They have directly engaged over 1,000 community members, including three members of Congress. Watch a video clip of their award.
Those who volunteer through Volunteers in Medicine of Monroe County are filling an important gap in medical services to un-served and under-served adults. Volunteers in Medicine is able to serve individuals who are between health care plans, transitioning into health care, and those without health care. Ten years of this committed volunteerism has resulted in approximately 500 medical and lay volunteers serving over 12,000 people. In 2016 alone, these volunteers served 1100 people. From health education and dentistry to primary care and acute walk in, the diversity of the issues Volunteers in Medicine encounters calls for an amazing amount of organization, professionalism, and compassion. Volunteers in Medicine volunteers work hard to ensure that each person is able to receive the medical care that they need. Watch a video clip of their award.
The important work of Vanessa Elias and Stephanie Huezo through La Escuelita para Todos (Little School for All) allows children and adults to become Spanish-English bilingual. Their work with children has a huge impact - they serve as teachers, role models, and emotional supports. Their determination to relate to students and help them meet their goals is an empowering experience for these children. Vanessa and Stephanie understand the importance of helping the children improve their English, but also understand how important it is that they embrace their heritage. The mission of La Escuelita is carried out by inspiring volunteers, and Vanessa and Stephanie embody the commitment and skill of these community members. Watch a video clip of their award.
Mary Goetze’s work through New Leaf-New Life is marked by compassion and intelligence. Over the years, she has also worked with Lotus, Court Appointed Special Advocates, and American Red Cross. Mary pays attention to the obstacles inmates face, and this challenges her to problem solve with them. The struggle of inmates to remain connected with their young children inspired Mary to create the Read To Me program. Mary’s Read To Me program has enabled 500 incarcerated parents to send recordings of themselves reading a book to their children, improving morale for the parents and providing a bridge over which they can send love to their children. Mary also began a program to support inmates pursuing additional education. Mary steps in when needed in order so New Leaf-New Life can best serve inmates, and has consistently found creative ways to improve inmates’ quality of life. Watch a video clip of her award.
Dave Wright’s service to Monroe County Court Appointed Special Advocates has been adaptive and critical for over sixteen years. Dave has many skills and strengths, and he is there to contribute in any void that develops. His advice and hard work guided the direction of CASA. Since his retirement, Dave treats CASA as his full time job and is an irreplaceable asset, especially as the number of children needing advocates has doubled over the last two years. How can the Bloomington community even try to measure or understand what he has done? One could count the children for whom he advocated, as well as the volunteers, staff, and board he has unwaveringly supported. The broader picture would be the thousands of children that have found permanent and safe homes through CASA and Dave. Watch a video clip of his award.
The Bloomington Community Orchard survives and thrives on the hard work of volunteers only. These volunteers have a powerful vision of what growing and sharing fruit can mean for the community. It can empower people to play a more proactive role in their local food systems, as well as create more food-secure and harvest-filled communities. The Bloomington Community Orchard does just that so well that it serves as a global model, advising other interested people and organizations around the world on how to create something similar in their communities. The commitment of these volunteers is hard to replicate! Hundreds of Bloomington residents commit to this vision, and interlacing education into all aspects of service to the orchard makes it a sustainable—and contagious—vision. Watch a video clip of their award.