Volunteer of the year to be honored for his effort
A volunteer for the Milton Food Pantry will be taking a bow. Jon Sockness is the 2011 United Way of North Rock County’s Volunteer Network "Volunteer of the Year".Kyle Geissler reports. You can read more in Tuesday's Janesville Gazette.
IF YOU GO
What: United Way of North Rock County’s Volunteer Network annual Helping Hands Awards celebration. Mike Austin of WJVL Radio will act as emcee.
When: 3 p.m., Tuesday, June 14.
Where: Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive, Janesville.
Reservations: Tickets are $5, and reservations are due Friday, June 10, by calling (608) 757-3058 or emailing email@example.com. Tickets also will be available at the door.
JANESVILLE When the Milton Food Pantry needed a helping hand, Jon Sockness dished up a healthy serving of volunteerism.
Mari Anne Warren said Sockness arrived at a good time.
“Our food pantry, like others in Rock County, is serving more people now than at any other time. We were desperate for help when Jon came along and helped put a smile on everyone’s face. He is our knight in shining armor and deserves to be recognized for his leadership and hard work,’’ Warren wrote in a letter nominating Sockness for the Helping Hand Awards sponsored by United Way of North Rock County’s Volunteer Network.
Sockness was selected as 2011 Volunteer of the Year. His is among six awards to be given during the network’s sixth annual Helping Hand Awards celebration Tuesday, June 14, at Rotary Botanical Gardens.
Sockness was shocked when he learned he’d be recognized.
“There are so many other people who do so many things. I’m just a part of it,’’ the 49-year-old Milton man said.
Sockness began volunteering at the Milton Food Pantry six years ago. He has served on the pantry’s board of directors and is chairman of the building and grounds committee.
Sockness doesn’t track his volunteer hours. He just knows how good it makes him feel to help a good cause.
“I do it to give back to the community and really enjoy seeing the people who need this. It’s nice to do something you know is truly appreciated,’’ Sockness said.
“For me, seeing people having some hardship due to the economy is one thing. But it’s another thing to know people are going hungry,’’ he said.
Pantry leaders and clients are grateful.
Sockness has a knack for organizing volunteer labor and finding material donors. He’s an experienced builder and organized the pantry’s roof repair and basement remodeling projects.
“With Jon’s dedication and hard work, the pantry is now a safe, healthy and friendly facility where we can better serve those in need. His impact has made a tremendous difference to the entire community by giving others an opportunity to take part in a community project,” Warren wrote.
Sockness also has been a volunteer coach for youth sports and has been involved with the South Central Wisconsin Builders Association since 1992, currently serving as the group’s membership board chairman.
HELPING HANDS WINNERS
In addition to Jon Sockness, Volunteer of the Year, the United Way of North Rock County Volunteer Network will give awards Tuesday, June 14, to:
-- Charles Braun—Adult Volunteer Award
Braun walked into the Salvation Army 10 years ago looking for lunch but ended up volunteering. Since then, the Janesville man has become known as the jack-of-all trades because of his janitorial work and for completing other useful tasks. Braun befriends clients during the daily, free meal program.
Braun walks, bikes, rides the bus or gets rides from friends from his home on the south side of the city to the Salvation Army, where he volunteers more than 90 hours a month.
Salvation Army staff said Braun has been a tremendous help to the church and social service agency and is a blessing to their team.
-- Audrey Hansen—Senior Volunteer Award
Hansen’s volunteer work with HospiceCare for 14 years has impacted the quality of life for countless families. The Janesville woman has performed nearly every volunteer role at HospiceCare, including respite in patients’ homes, companionship with patients who may be lonely or isolated, administrative support at the office and helping start the “Tuck-In” program that helps families feel more confident and prepared to care for their loved ones over the weekends.
Hansen embodies HospiceCare’s values of compassion, collaboration, integrity, excellence and stewardship, a HospiceCare volunteer coordinator said.
-- Nancy and Philip Kress—Family Volunteer Award
Over the past four years, the Kresses, along with a group of community volunteers, have helped the Evansville School District develop its school grounds into a school forest. The Evansville couple remain involved with the outdoor classroom by helping develop its learning activities and expanding it as an educational opportunity for all students enrolled in Evansville schools.
The Kresses are active in Boy Scouts, at local schools, the Evansville Energy Fair and Talking Spirits, a local cemetery heritage theater with Evansville Community Theater.
Although the two are passionate about all of their volunteer work, they are especially fond of working on projects that involve children.
-- Craig High School Live United Club—Youth Volunteer Award
Just over three years ago, the Live United Club was formed at Craig High School to provide volunteer opportunities for students.
Projects chosen were based on the students’ interests and have included the GIFTS men’s shelter, House of Mercy homeless center, YWCA Before and After School Program, Salvation Army bell ringing, ECHO events, Youth Service Day and raking yards for senior citizens.
During the last year, Live United Club members have logged more than 350 volunteer hours for various organizations.
-- Joanne Ferraro—Volunteer Coordinator Award
Up to five days a week, you can find Ferraro at Edgerton Community Outreach, where she has been a volunteer for more than six years. After working in the thrift store, the Edgerton woman became food pantry coordinator and typically devotes up to 90 hours a month serving pantry participants, ordering food, shopping at Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin, handling donations and coordinating pantry volunteers.
Ferraro’s dedication to the food pantry has allowed Edgerton Community Outreach to expand programs because of her ability to motivate volunteers, the agency’s executive director said.