Tonight, I will be presenting the annual James M. Ragland "Volunteer Spirit" Community Service Award to the Ashland Food Project. I have to tell you that it was actually a bit of a struggle this year for the Council and me to select a winner, and I think you'll see why after you read a little about the exceptional nominees this year. Be sure to give each of these nominees (and the people who support them) a "pat on the back" and thank them for their service to our community.
Olaf Paul. Since 2005, Olaf has been the coordinator for the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), logging over 2,000 hours in his 4 years running that program and stepping into any volunteer position needed, including (but not limited to) crossing guard, foot patrol, assisting with the Festival of Lights and 4th of July activities, delivering interdepartmental mail, District Attorney courier, vacation house check, and regular VIPS office duties.
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). The OLLI program at SOU is run largely by volunteers and has been providing public education courses since 1993. They also partner with other local institution such as the Wildlife Forensics Laboratory, Jackson County Library Service, and ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum to provide educational events.
Dr. Robert Cox. Dr. Cox has been volunteering for 15 years with the Forensics Lab and for 17 years with the Ashland Senior Center. At the forensics lab, Dr. Cox works to assist the regular employees by creating the background data necessary for those who testify in court. At the Senior Center, he helps with the meals programs, and teaches basic computer skills to seniors.
Michael Hersh. Michael volunteers with a wide variety of groups including: The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Tudor Guild, Meals on Wheels, the Ashland Police Department, ScienceWorks Hands-on Museum, and the Southern Oregon Repertory Singers.
Ballet Rogue's "Ballet in the Park". The Ballet in the Park program provides free ballet performances every summer in Lithia Park.
Ashland High School's ASPIRE Program. The ASPIRE program helps students value learning, gain access to education and vocational training beyond high school, and provides mentoring and resources about education and financial aid. They have helped the rate of graduating Ashland High School students going on to two or four year colleges go from 62% to 87%.
Tim Church. Tim helps at the Recycle Center. While on duty at the Recycle Center, Tim brings adoptable dogs, giving the dogs both an opportunity for socialization and the possibility of finding a loving permanent home.
Ashland St. Vincent de Paul Society. The Ashland Volunteers with the St. Vincent de Paul Society assist the needy with emergency utility payments, food, clothing, and prescription drugs. They do not offer direct cash, but instead, do the legwork of intervening with landlords, utility companies, etc. Last year the eleven Ashland/Talent volunteers responded to 587 calls for assistance.
James Matteson II. Jim was in the Rotary Club of Ashland since moving here in 1980. Over the years he served as Rotary president, district governor, and secretary-treasurer as well as trustee for the Ashland Rotary Foundation. He also served as the chair of the 4th of July Parade, and was on the Chamber Board for my years. From 1990-1997 Jim and his wife, Betty, acted as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus at the Festival of Lights. Jim was also an OSF volunteer, and a member of the Elks Club of Ashland. Jim, sadly, passed away in March of this year.
James M. Ragland "Volunteer Spirit" Community Service Award 2010 given to:
The Ashland Food Project. This reliable, easy, door-to-door food collection program provides a steady supply of food to both Ashland and Talent "free food" programs. Once every two months, on the second Saturday of the month, neighborhood volunteers with the project collect food set out by households who have agreed to support, on a regular basis, local meal programs (including the Ashland Food Bank, Food Angels, Uncle Food's Diner, the Ashland Senior Center, the First Congregational United Church of Christ's Monday Morning Breakfast, and the Talent Food Pantry.) Last, but not least, this program strengthens the community as a whole as it requires face-to-face / neighbor-to-neighbor interaction with the volunteers and donating households.
Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations for this year's Ragland Award! And to all the nominees, thank you for your efforts. Keep up the good work!