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Covington Coach Honored in Frankfort for Service

A coach at Holmes High School in Covington was among those honored at Friday night's Governor's Service Awards ceremony, held in the State Capitol Rotunda.

The ceremony recognized Leah Cann's service in the AmeriCorps Kentucky Colleges Program. She was among 21 individuals and groups to be honored.

Gov. Matt Bevin and Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, as well as Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) Secretary Vickie Yates Brown Glisson presented the awards. They were joined by Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps and leads volunteer and service initiatives for the nation.

Bevin said the event was a chance to honor the state’s volunteers and national service members for their efforts and the positive changes they have made.

“We know you take time to volunteer not because you expect to be recognized or receive awards, but because you have a servant’s heart,” Bevin said. “You have truly made an impact on your communities in ways that you may never see. Your actions set an example for others and are worthy of this prestigious recognition. Congratulations and thank you for representing the very best of who we are as Kentuckians.”                         

As a member of the AmeriCorps Kentucky College Coaches Program, Cann mentors high school students who might not envision themselves going to college, such as first-generation college students and/or populations with low rates of college enrollment. Coaches like Cann, who serves at Holmes High School, serve in schools around Kentucky that have been identified as needing assistance based on their low college-attendance rate, high poverty rate and for being underserved by other community-based services. Each coach is required to mentor about 60 core students throughout their 10-month service period. Holmes is known for doing so with patience, persistence, passion, determination, poise.

The Governor’s Service Awards program is coordinated by the Kentucky Commission on Community Volunteerism and Service (KCCVS), a division within CHFS. The Governor’s Office launched the volunteer awards program in 1975. Since 1995, the KCCVS has administered the program.

Lt. Gov. Hampton said she is appreciative of the recipients’ service to others.

“We are truly grateful to these volunteers for their tireless efforts, as well as the thousands of Kentuckians who serve their fellow citizens in need. I applaud the volunteers for giving generously of their time and talent,” she said.

Secretary Glisson said the honorees should be proud of the far-reaching effects of their service.

“These volunteers have made a great impact with their actions and their character,” she said. “Their exemplary service is inspiring so many others across the Commonwealth to give of themselves too.”

A panel of independent reviewers with experience in volunteerism and/or service scored each nomination for the Awards Committee to choose the award recipients based on criteria like the uniqueness of the approach to solving a community problem and evidence of the impact of service. Awards were given for business, nonprofit, national service, lifetime achievement and volunteer service in categories for youth, seniors and groups. The 2016 award nominations were submitted by a May 2 deadline.

In addition to managing the annual awards program, the bipartisan KCCVS Commission manages Kentucky AmeriCorps, a national service program from the federal agency, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). Kentucky has received more than $6 million in AmeriCorps federal funding for 19 programs with more than 1,000 members starting in September. Since AmeriCorps began in 1994, more than 10,000 Kentuckians have served more than 16 million hours and earned $37.5 million in educational awards.

This year’s award recipients have helped meet the state’s critical needs like feeding the hungry, tutoring and mentoring at-risk students and assisting vulnerable community members during public health emergencies.

KCCVS Executive Director Joe Bringardner said the honorees, and hundreds of volunteers like them, share a common trait of selflessness.

“These recipients, like so many other volunteers, started their service by seeing a problem and asking, ‘What can I do?’” he said. “They may choose to join a national service program like AmeriCorps, partner with a local charity, or even spearhead their own advocacy group and enlist the help of others. But every service effort makes an impact.”

At the ceremony, CNCS CEO Wendy Spencer said research shows that volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers.

“Service is a core American value. Volunteers enrich our communities and keep our nation strong,” Spencer said. “The volunteers honored here today represent the best this Commonwealth and nation have to offer, demonstrating the power each and every one of us has to make a difference. I salute them for efforts and thank them for their commitment to service.”

2016 Governor’s Service Award Recipients

  • John DuPlessis, Lifetime Achievement Award, Elizabethtown. Nominated by Rep. Tim Moore
  • Tina Crase, Lifetime Achievement Award (Posthumous), Verona. Nominated by Katelyn Crase
  • Michael J. Buckman, Volunteer Service Award, Prospect. Nominated by Kate Brackett
  • Shelley Elswick, Volunteer Service Award, Lexington. Nominated by Amanda Fallin
  • Dr. Mike Conver, Senior Volunteer Service Award, Cadiz. Nominated by Brenda Southwick
  • John and Emilie Ward, Senior Volunteer Service Award, Lebanon Junction.  Nominated by Donna English
  • Tony Hendrichs, Veteran Volunteer Service Award, Lexington. Nominated by Tim Turner
  • Anthony “Nick” Carpenter,  Youth Volunteer Service Award, Berea. Nominated by Virginia Bland
  • Lydia Claire O'Nan, Youth Volunteer Service Award, Ashland. Nominated by Bernard O'Nan
  • AmeriCorps REACH Corps, National Service Program Award, Louisville. Nominated by Jacob Eads
  • Anthony Criswell, National Service Alumni Award, Morehead. Nominated by Marilyn Smith
  • Leah Cann and Lori Shea Fuson, National Service AmeriCorps Member Award, Crittenden and Williamsburg. Nominated by Summer Gortney and Megan Morris
  • Mary “Jessie” Hettinger,  National Service Senior Corps Member Award, Owensboro.  Nominated by Vickie Poteat
  • Big Rivers Electric Corporation, Business Service Award, Henderson.  Nominated by Megan Mortis
  • Independence Bank, Business Service Award, Owensboro.  Nominated by Mary R. Steely
  • Partners for Education at Berea College, Nonprofit Service Award, Berea. Nominated by Sandi Curd
  • Partnership Housing, Inc., Nonprofit Service Award, Booneville, Nominated by Cassie Hudson
  • Generation Joshua Club, Paducah Chapter, Group Service Award, Paducah. Nominated by Eve Silverstein
  • Maria Hardy, Debbie Miller, Kristy Bolen, Cassie Mace, Henry Sturgill, Ron Enders and Brian Elswick (Health Departments in Boyd, Greenup and Lawrence Counties), Group Service Award, Little Sandy District. Nominated by John M. Hunt
  • A Place To Sleep, Faith-Based Group Service Award, Shelbyville. Nominated by Jackie Duvall
  • Farmington Church of Christ, Faith-based Group Award, Farmington. Nominated by Jennifer Morris

-Staff report

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