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The Maine Commission for Community Service Makes Volunteer Recognition Easy

by Debbie Atwood

We hear regularly from members about the incredible people dedicating time and talent to their organizations’ missions around the state. Here’s a way to say “Thanks!” The following guest post from Cecily Cook at Maine Commission for Community Service has all the details.

 

Maine’s Governor’s Awards for Service and Volunteerism

Volunteer appreciation is widely recognized as a fundamental component of a successful volunteer program. Google “importance of volunteer recognition” and approximately a million and a half results will come flooding back to you in less than half a second! It’s all about making volunteers feel included and valued, and ensuring that they know that your organization is aware of the key contributions they make to the success of the program and organization.

In a great article from Michigan State University, Molly Frendo says:

All humans need to be recognized in a meaningful way for their efforts. This helps to build self-esteem and confidence. Recognition is an important component of volunteer retention. When volunteers feel appreciated and important, they are more likely to feel connected to the program and continue their involvement.

Luckily for volunteer managers, volunteer appreciation doesn’t have to be a time consuming or expensive procedure. Since 1987, the Maine Commission for Community Service has coordinated Maine’s Governor’s Awards for Service and Volunteerism to honor the talent contributed to the State’s many communities and to also inspire others to follow in the footsteps of those recognized.

The nomination period for these awards is open now and closes in early March. This is a state-wide award process, including both competitive and non-competitive types of awards, and it’s free, with a user-friendly nomination process. There are many award categories and you’re sure to find an appropriate fit for your volunteer(s) and volunteer program(s).

  • Individual Awards – 6 opportunities to recognize people, including Youth Volunteer of the Year, (Adult) Volunteer of the Year, and Excellence in Volunteer Administration. This category is a competitive award process, involving volunteer peer reviewers and specific selection criteria. Awardees are honored during a ceremony presided over by First Lady Ann LePage at the Capitol Building in Augusta in April.
    Submission deadline – March 5, 2018.
  • Organizational Awards— 4 opportunities to recognize businesses, organizations, and community programs, including School District Excellence in Service Learning and Small Business Volunteerism. This category is a competitive award process, involving volunteer peer reviewers and specific selection criteria. Awardees are honored during a ceremony presided over by First Lady Ann LePage at the Capitol Building in Augusta in April.
    Submission deadline – March 5, 2018. 
  • Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor – This is a non-competitive award presented to nominees who must be at least 19 years of age and have volunteered at least 500 hours in the prior calendar year. All Volunteer Roll of Honor members receive a personalized certificate and tickets to a Sea Dogs game, which includes a volunteer recognition ceremony.
    Submission deadline
     – March 15, 2018.
  • Young Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor – This is a non-competitive award presented to any youth who takes on a leadership position in her/his community through youth group initiatives, student councils, independently established projects, or other social and collaborative endeavors. Nominees must be 18 years of age or younger and have volunteered at least 50 hours in the prior year. All Youth Volunteer Roll of Honor members receive a personalized certificate, medals, and tickets to a youth-oriented theatrical performance and appreciation event.
    Submission deadline – March 15, 2018.

While youth are often seen as the recipients of services, a goal of the Young Maine Volunteer Roll of Honor is to reverse that perspective and draw attention to the ways that young people all over the State of Maine are returning attention, energy, and enthusiasm to their communities, schools, and extracurricular groups. Through their donated time and talent, young volunteers strengthen communities, enhance their own life skills, and create lasting relationships.

In short, The Governor’s Awards for Service and Volunteerism provides an excellent, low-cost, and easy way to give your volunteers well-deserved appreciation. Tthey receive recognition from their peers and the broader public sphere, while the communities they serve are identified so their neighbors and friends can, in turn, acknowledge and appreciate their donated time and talent.

With Volunteer Appreciation Week quickly approaching from April 15th to April 21st, remember to submit nominations for your amazing volunteers for a Governor’s Service Award. Let the Maine Commission for Community Service do the planning and coordinating for you!

Go to www.VolunteerMaine.org for instructions, eligibility criteria, and submission forms. Email cecily.cook@maine.gov with any specific questions. Remember, deadlines are in early March!

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Cecily Cook has been working with MCCS since February 2017. As a Planning and Research Associate she is responsible for planning and coordinating public events, including the Governor’s Service Awards and the AmeriCorps Swearing-In Ceremony, creating printed, electronic, and video marketing communications, and conducting research and compiling reports.

Before the Commission, Cecily managed a small, volunteer-based humanitarian aid organization in Northern

Iraq, which she co-founded. While in this position she partnered with large organizations, like the UNHCR, to facilitate programs based in Syrian refugee camps. Cecily received her MA in Middle Eastern Studies and Social Sciences from Lund University in Sweden.

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The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine’s volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service-learning practitioners, raising awareness of sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy.  For more information about the Maine Commission for Community Service, visit www.maineservicecommission.gov.

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