Nominate a volunteer!

Feeling challenged by recent events to begin making more of a difference in the life of our collective community? Or inspired by the words and deeds of so many everyday heroes in the aftermath of the recent tragedy in Tucson?

Too often we wait to recognize the selfless acts of others, to fully appreciate their gifts to the community. But this week there’s an opportunity for each of us to act on our gratitude for those who serve the communities we love.

The Arizona Governor’s Commission on Service and Volunteerism has put out the call for nominations for the 10th annual Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards — but you need to act quickly to nominate a worthy volunteer.

Nominations are due by Sat, Jan 15 — but don’t let that discourage you. The nomination process is simple and straightforward, and you can submit a nomination online if that makes the process more convenient. Nomination forms are available at the Governor’s website. 

One award will be given in each of the following categories — youth, youth group, adult, adult group, service-learning practitioner, National Service member, small business, large business, non-profit and lifetime volunteer.

Nominees are judged by a panel of statewide judges, who select award recipients based on four criteria — need, action, innovation and impact. The nomination form walks you through each of these areas.

I nominated a fellow mental health advocate several years ago — and although she wasn’t selected, she received a lovely letter from then Governor Janet Napolitano recognizing her nomination and commending her service.

If your nominee doesn’t win, he or she can still enjoy the warm fuzzies that come with feeling appreciated.

You have plenty of options for how to get the darn thing completed in just another couple of days. You can do the form yourself or enlist the help of others (maybe assigning one person to answer each short question before you compile everyone’s work).

Or you can ask the person you’re nominating to complete a sort of draft of the form that will fill in the blanks with details you might not know. Then you have something to refer to as you’re getting all those ducks in a row.

If you’re lamenting having so little time to turn this nomination around, consider a simple trick that’ll make it easier the next time. Start gathering relevant information now about folks you might like to nominate for this, or another volunteer/service award, in the future.

Suprising folks is lovely — but when all else fails, just come right out and ask them for what you need. Maybe you don’t know all someone has done to earn a lifetime achievement award, but you’re certain that person is deserving. The most humble will need some nudging, but I doubt they’ll mind the interest.

If your specific interest is arts and culture, be sure and save the date for the 30th annual Governor’s Arts Award (2011 nominations have already closed). The awards ceremony takes place Tues, April 12, at the recently-renovated Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix.

Remember too that nominations are being accepted through Mon, March 14, for the 2011 Hon Kachina Volunteer Awards, which recognize Arizona volunteers high-school age or above who volunteer in diverse areas from the arts and education to justice and social services.

Our days are comprised of small thoughts, words and deeds that together create the life we live and the impact we have on others.

Especially given all the American people experience together as we build, improve and sustain our democracy — it’s important to recognize those who serve our communities through generous gifts of time and talent. 

— Lynn

Note: Click here to learn about volunteer opportunities (including many that are “family-friendly”) available through HandsOn Greater Phoenix.

Coming up: Arizona celebrates MLK Day


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