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2016 MAVA Excellence Award Winners

Excellence in Volunteerism Awards

Winner (14-18 yrs): Maija Olson
Maija Olson has volunteered for three years on Play Team at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, where she has both led the youth volunteers as a Play Team Leader and provided invaluable service expanding the Museum’s community outreach campaigns as a Social Media Leader. Museum staff are consistently impressed by her reliability, her flexibility, her high level of personal standards, and her customer service skills. Maija is known to step in and help train new Play Team members in their responsibilities, and she can always be counted on solve problems or resolve any issues with maturity and grace. In her over 350 hours served at the Museum, Maija has exemplified the qualities of leadership, responsibility, and dedication to community service.

Winner (18-24 yrs): Nicole Hennen
Nicole Hennen has been one of Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute's most enthusiastic, dependable, and caring ski volunteers for three ski seasons, going on four. She exemplifies a person who cares deeply for others and shares her joy for life, her smile and a “we can do this” spirit with her fellow instructor and every disabled athlete she comes across. Nicole’s site coordinators rave about her dependability, willingness, and genuine interest in being with our participants. We know that every student is in good hands when they are with Nicole.

Winner (25+): John Heintze

John Heintze has volunteered with Good Shepherd Community since 1991. John is a jack-of-all-trades. He has been known to help put together furniture and assemble any kind of project. He has assisted at community volunteer fairs and expos, delivered mail, delivered home meals, run resident and tenant errands, taken people to medical appointments, delivered bulletins, provided escorts to activities, helped with special fundraising events, and assisted at happy hour each week. Some days he laughs and says, “Who knows what job I am walking into today with a smile!” John’s willingness to educate and share insight on the work of Good Shepherd is so important. He interacts with high school students and junior volunteers, who look up to him for guidance. He is truly the welcome wagon to everyone he encounters on campus.

Mary Wiser Award for Excellence in Volunteer Administration

Winner: Renée Hartwig

Renée Hartwig has worked in volunteer management since 1982 and served as the Volunteer Administrator for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for the past 28 years. DNR Volunteer Programs supports the DNR’s mission by working with citizens of Minnesota to conserve and manage the state’s natural resources. Each year more than 22,000 volunteers donate approximately 266,000 hours valued at $6.1 million to the agency. Renée has made a significant contribution to furthering the culture and climate for professional volunteerism in Minnesota and has made the DNR’s volunteer program the envy of many other state agencies.

Award for Excellence in Volunteer Program Development

Winner: Paula Duncan

Paula Duncan, RN, CRNFA, has coordinated the clinical and resource development of the HELP program at Methodist Hospital – a program designed to reduce and mitigate instances of delirium in older adults – since 2010. She has built the Hospital Elder Life Program (HELP) by nurturing volunteers and equipping staff to fully utilize her volunteers to create better experiences and health outcomes for patients at our hospital. Paula has high expectations of her volunteers and holds them accountable for their roles and schedules. She helps to engage them in the hospital community. Her effort to develop her volunteers and prepare them for the career ahead of them is admirable. The program started with just seven volunteers, and over the past 6 ½ years has grown to over 125 volunteers. In 2011 the HELP volunteers visited just under 2000 patients. The following year they visited just under 4000 patients. Since its implementation, HELP has seen a hospital-wide average of 97% success rate in preventing delirium.

Award for Excellence in Executive Leadership

Winner: Maria Wetherall

Maria Wetherall, Director of Ramsey County Veterans Services, is the Senior Management Liaison to the Ramsey County Volunteer Program Network (VPN). The VPN is a group of staff that coordinate or manage volunteer programs within Ramsey County government. The Senior Management Liaison bridges the VPN network to the county’s senior level leadership. Maria has served in this capacity since 2009 and has been a steadfast advocate for volunteerism, and for those who lead our volunteer programs. Maria learned the value of volunteers and the value of professional volunteer management when she worked at Courage Center earlier in her career. Working across departments and navigating a governmental bureaucracy can be tricky. With Maria’s guidance VPN has addressed some big issues such as the implementation of Volgistics, developing a countywide volunteer policy, and data practices training for volunteers. In addition to her work with the VPN, Maria has been instrumental in bringing volunteers into the fold within her department. The volunteer program in Veterans Services began with office assistant volunteers. The next volunteer program that Maria and her staff developed was Veterans Court Mentorship. Volunteer mentors assist Ramsey County Veterans Court participants to identify and change the circumstances that brought them to the criminal justice system. In this volunteer role, veterans help a fellow veteran in need. A veteran herself, Maria knows how strongly the bond of service connects veteran to veteran.