By Kelly Sennott
“Aw shucks”—it’s what most award recipients say when told they’re being recognized by Connecting Youth, and this year, the Williston recipients were no exception.
“I call all of the award recipients when they are selected and first ask whether they’re willing to accept the award,” said Christine Lloyd-Newberry, CY Program Director. “Their responses range from stunned silence to ‘I don’t think you have this right’ to tears. It’s a very modest group of people.”
CY, a community coalition dedicated to creating a safe environment for young people, holds nominations for the volunteerism award every year. Eight individuals, one business and two CY mentors received Aw Shucks awards at CY’s 17th annual volunteer recognition night, held April 8 at Champlain Valley Union High School. Award-winners are nominated by community members and selected by the CY board.
“We’re looking for people who have consistently been involved in the lives of kids outside of their normal work,” Lloyd-Newberry said.
Four Williston residents were recognized for their volunteer work in the community: Jeanne Jensen; Jeffrey Warren; and Charlie and MaryAnn Wolf.
Jensen served on the Williston School Board for nine years, has been involved in the Boy and Girl scouts and helped found the “Me and My Guy” dance, held annually at Williston Central School. In addition, Jensen serves on the Champlain Valley Union High School Board and has been the treasurer of the Williston Community Food Shelf for years.
“I’m so lucky to live in Williston and I really enjoy doing my part to make life good here,” Jensen wrote in an email to the Observer. “In fact, most of the best people in my life I’ve met through one volunteer activity or another. It’s particularly rewarding to work with kids and make a difference in their lives. CY is a terrific organization and I am thrilled to be recognized.”
Cathy Michaels, food shelf president, called Jensen the organization’s financial guru.
“Jeanne does a lot for the community in general… She feels compassionately at serving our hungry neighbors as much as the rest of the people on board,” Michaels said. “She’s pretty passionate about what she does.”
Warren, a math and science teacher at Browns River Middle School in Jericho, said his son and daughter were pretty fired up when they heard he won the award.
“I’m really touched that the people in this community hold volunteering in such high esteem,” he said. “It feels good to be recognized for the work that you do.”
Warren volunteers as a baseball and basketball coach through Williston Recreation and Little League programs.
“I like seeing the positive impact it has, getting kids involved in sports,” Warren said. “Kids learn teamwork, cooperation…. One thing that makes this really fulfilling is being able to work in a phenomenal community of kids and parents.”
Charlie and Mary Ann Wolf received the Brian O’Regan Mentoring Award, created in 2006 to continue the legacy of former CSSU Superintendent, Brian O’Regan.
The pair was surprised to receive the honor.
“There are so many of us who do the mentoring program. There are 55 people in Williston who volunteer. It really is an ‘aw shucks, why me?’ I think we’re representing all of those volunteers. I don’t feel as though we’ve done anything different,” Mary Ann Wolf said.
She and her husband have volunteered in the mentor program for several years. She said she enjoys spending time with her mentee—playing games, baking and hanging out together.
“I like being at the school and getting to know the students and teachers,” she said. “I feel more as though I’m a part of the community, especially since my own kids have all grown.”