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MAVA 2023 Awards for Excellence in Volunteerism


Becky Fisher

Nominated by Sarah Hennes

The mission at MORA (Mount Olivet Rolling Acres) is to enhance the lives of individuals with disabilities, and that is exactly what Becky Fisher does. For over a year and a half, Becky has cooked a homemade meal and delivered it to one of our residential group homes. These meals provide a sense of comfort and allow staff to spend more time giving person-centered care and less time cooking in the kitchen. As a meal volunteer, Becky pays for and cooks the meals and drops them off. Due to COVID and other health factors she is unable to step into the house. Imagine spending your money and time dropping off meals, and not being able to see the impact firsthand. Becky has also been supportive to Sarah in her role as Volunteer Coordinator, acting as a sounding board for new ideas and volunteer opportunities. Sarah has put Becky in charge of the annual carnival for MORA’s clients. We couldn’t do these events without Becky. Sarah is a better Volunteer Coordinator because of Becky, and her leadership has made the volunteer program stronger. 

We thank Becky for her dedication and hard work. Congratulations, Becky. 


Hassanen Mohamed

Nominated by Denise Rene Hannah

Hassanen has been volunteering formally and informally for many decades in the Twin Cities. Hassanen has volunteered with the Brooklyn Park Human Rights Commission, mentoring youth, and building bridges with community members. Currently, he volunteers to help young people on the streets who are addicted to opiods find their way home and stay out of trouble. He connects or finds detox centers, reminds each person that they have a hope and a future, and works with families for restoration. Hassanen has also been featured in the StarTribune for his volunteer work. 

Hassanen also hosts annual Ramadan breaking fast meals and Eid celebrations at his home for community members. These meals bring people together from various backgrounds. His entire family helps with these gatherings. He has made a safe environment in his home for people to share and discuss issues, even around topics they disagree on. 

We thank Hassanen for his volunteer efforts and making our community stronger. Congratulations, Hassanen. 


Jasmine Garry

Nominated by Dan Craig

For the past three years, Jasmine has devoted close to 750 hours of service to a STEM non-profit she founded, “CREATE Tutoring”, that provides free tutoring to students – especially those in underrepresented populations in STEM – earning more than 1,000 followers on Instagram and serving students globally. She has organized and led more than 50 tutors and reached 100s of students across the world. To further expand her impact, she has raised donations and hosted a dozen resource drives for multiple communities. 

During the past few summers has hosted 4 all girl hack-a-thons, that have reached girls from 36 states. She was a volunteer student researcher at North Carolina State University, where she developed 5 apps that teach state standards while introducing students to coding. Her apps help and support digital literacy to thousands of students and teachers. 

Jasmine is very involved at her school and many different clubs, like the Computer Science Honor Society and takes various AP classes. She enjoys tutoring other students and brings the best out in others. 

We thank Jasmine for her volunteer efforts in reaching students, teachers, and other community members through her passion of technology. Congratulations, Jasmine.


Jeff Dols

Nominated by Travis Salisbury

Jeff is a volunteer every organization should be blessed enough to engage. Jeff serves at St. Paul’s Monastery and Benedictine Center in Maplewood. Home to 19 Benedictine sisters and their retreat/guest house ministry. Jeff previously served as director of mission advancement and as interim director of the Benedictine Center before retiring in 2021. Jeff’s heart beats with volunteer passion. Not only is his soul kind, but his heart also seeks the good in all – even in tough moments. Volunteers who get it done are amazing. Volunteers who lead the organization to its better self are rare. Jeff is that rare kind of a volunteer. 

Jeff provides spiritual care and nurture to those at the Benedictine Center. He is also the chair of the Benedictine Center Advisory Committee guiding the future for the Monastery’s guest house/retreat center. He volunteers to help with event planning, set up and take down, hospitality, and more. He even volunteered to mentor Travis in his new role of advancement director. Jeff’s impact on the St. Paul’s Monastery is too much to list here.

The Monastery and Benedictine Center are better and stronger because of Jeff’s volunteer efforts. Congratulations, Jeff. 


Lynne Day

Nominated by Gretchen Remington

Lynne Day has been a dedicated volunteer at Brighton Hospice since 2021, serving over 124 hours in multiple roles. She began as a companion volunteer coming on during COVID, when the world of healthcare was uncertain. Lynne jumped right in finding ways to serve her community and its members. She quickly took part in additional training and has since joined the Brighton’s Your Final Hours program, which provides support at bedsides, often sitting vigil with patients during their last hours. Lynne is committed to visiting her companion patients on a weekly basis. Lynne has made it a point to bring supplies of interest to her patients, taking great care to make sure the experience is personal to them. 

Lynne has also helped with administrative tasks in the office. She brings light and joy each Friday morning when she stops by the office to help assemble the admission/discharge paperwork. She is always willing to lend a hand and help with any project! Lynne has recently moved across town but continues to travel over 40 minutes one way to visit her patients. 

We are grateful that Lynne is a part of the Brighton volunteer team. We thank her for her volunteer efforts. Congratulations, Lynne!

Marlys Stainbrook

Nominated by Lorie Byrnes

Marlys has been a volunteer with Essential Health for over 20 years. She started volunteering delivering books for newborns but felt that she wanted to volunteer directly with patients in hospice. For the last several years, she has volunteered on the Oncology/Palliative/End of Life Unit where you will find her at a patient’s bedside, holding their hand or offering a warm blanket for a family member. A particular project that is near to Marly’s heart is the “comfort cart”, a cart designed to offer comfort to patients and families, with items like a cloth bag to put personal belongings in, an angel ornament or a handmade quilt. Everything on the cart is gifted to the patient and family. Marlys makes sure that the cart is cleaned and stocked, but it’s her church group that donates the special quilts that are given out.  

Marlys goes above and beyond to serve patients and their families, even giving them her phone number is case they needed someone to talk with, beyond her schedule volunteer time. Marly’s also serves with St. Mary’s Auxiliary. 

Even through her own health crisis and her daughter’s, Marlys continues to serve faithfully. To know her is to love her and to say that she’s someone special is an understatement. 

We thank Marly’s for her time and commitment to serve the patients and families at Essentia Health. Congratulations, Marlys!

Ray Erspamer

Ray Erspamer

Nominated by Elizabeth Kelly

Ray is a volunteer with United Way of Northeastern Minnesota. Ray has served on UWNEMN Board of Directors for nine years. Over his time serving, Ray became known as “United Ray”, a constant positive volunteer, dedicated to moving the mission of our local United Way forward. After retirement, Ray volunteered even more of his time. He began traveling weekly to Bed, Bath & Beyond stores to obtain home essentials, creating what is now our Comforts of Home program. This program provides needed household products to individuals in our service territory who are in crisis.  Ray also became volunteer lead for the Buddy Backpacks program, addressing childhood hunger on weekends. Ray delivers nonperishable meal kits to schools across the region. 

We don’t know what we would do without Ray! He truly is at the heart of what makes the Buddy Backpacks program what it is today. The program’s impact, reach, and consistency are made possible by Ray’s dedication to United Way of Northeastern MN, Buddy Backpacks, and the children in our rural region. Ray and his wife Debbie, continue to be actively involved in their community and have been recognize for their service. 

We thank Ray for his volunteer service to United Way of Northeastern MN and the impact his volunteer time has made in the community. Congratulations, Ray!


Vicky Makki

Nominated by Emma Lucchesi

Vicky volunteers with Friends & Co, formerly Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly. At Friends & Co., our mission revolves around fostering meaningful connections with older adults. As a versatile and committed volunteer, she embraces three volunteer roles within the organization: a dedicated Phone & Visiting companion, a considerate assessor, and a caring Coffee Talker. In each of these roles, Vicky provides companionship, connection and friendship and has left a lasting imprint on the lives of those she serves. Vicky goes above and beyond to support her companion by providing connection and conversation, dropping off holiday goodies or picking them up to take them for coffee or just being a sounding board to help them navigate difficult situations. 

Vicky’s empathetic approach fosters a sense of comfort, making them feel not only comfortable but empowered to reach out and access the support they need. Vicky has served more than 1,000 hours of service and has impacted the lives of countless older adults in our community. 

We thank Vicky for her volunteer efforts, and for exemplifying the spirit of compassion, dedication, and positive change that this award honors. Congratulations, Vicky! 

Excellence in Emerging Leadership Award



Julia Godfrey

Nominated by Carrie Openshaw

Julia coordinates Tribal Partnerships at Secondhand Hounds. Juila mindfully builds relationships with tribal partners and centers the community’s needs in her work. Her ability to self-reflect and learn from the community and then take that learning back to our volunteer teams has been a big step forward in understanding how to serve communities that have experienced historical trauma. The program focuses on working with underserved indigenous communities to bring access to veterinary care. Julia coordinates groups of volunteers, inventories medical supplies, finds lodging and food in sometimes very remote areas.

Julia is in the heart of the action. After a week of clinics in Red Lake, sleeping on cots, out in hot, buggy fields all day, doing physical labor handling animals and pulling supplies, you’d expect that anyone would need a break… but Julia continued to work setting up feedback sessions. Checking with our partners and volunteers on learning and ways to improve. She is just amazingly dedicated.

We thank Julia for her dedication and time in serving our community. Congratulations, Julia!

Volunteer of the Year

Kirsten Hoaby

Nominated by MAVA Staff

Over the past few years, Kirsten Hoaby has made professional and geographical moves — she has coordinated volunteers at multiple different organizations, and even moved from Minnesota to Boulder, CO. And through all of these professional and life changes, Kirsten has remained a faithful MAVA volunteer and highly valued member of MAVA’s community!

Kirsten has brought steadiness and consistency to MAVA’s professional development committee, both as an active member and as co-chair from 2021-2023. She has helped plan and lead numerous volunteer engagement trainings, conferences, and MAVA Connections over the years. She was instrumental in developing and launching MAVA’s BIPOC and White Allies Affinity Groups. And she has elevated the caliber of conversations among volunteer engagement leaders, with her warm curiosity, nuanced insights, and commitment to inclusion.

Kirsten is enthusiastic and willing to serve as a thought-partner, collaborator, and leader in both visible and behind-the-scenes ways. In 2022 she traveled from Colorado to Minnesota to volunteer in-person at MAVA's summer Volunteer Engagement Conference. And for the 2023 conference, she went above and beyond to organize and lead the team of virtual session host volunteers, which was a challenging role that she handled with so much resourcefulness and grace!

Kirsten is a joy to partner with and we are so fortunate that she has chosen to dedicate her time and energy to help bring high-quality training and education to volunteer engagement leaders! The MAVA staff is excited to honor Kirsten Hoaby’s generosity, leadership, dedication, and insightfulness, with MAVA's volunteer of the year award.

Judie Russell Award for Excellence in Volunteer Program Development

Niila 2023

Niila Hebert

Nominated by Karmit Bulman

Niila has been a prime example of volunteerism at its best for over 7 years. She has worked tirelessly to pass the volunteerism bill, served as the Chair of the Public Policy committee, and served as chair elect, Board Chair and past Chair of the MAVA Board of Directors. Niila leads with her heart and brings humor, energy, enthusiasm, and inspiration to all her leadership roles at MAVA. She has served as a volunteer speaker, conflict resolver, mentor, and facilitator. Every organization deserves a Niila. She is a fitting recipient of the Judie Russell award because, like Judie, she embodies the heart, hard work and tremendous talent that carried Judie through so many years as a volunteer for MAVA.

We thank Niila for her many years of service and the impact she has made in Volunteer Program Development. Congratulations, Niila! 

Mary Wiser Award for Leadership in the Field of Volunteer Resources

Jetta Wiedemeier Bower

Nominated by Mary Madill

Jetta stands out for her selfless dedication and effective leadership. She has developed a truly exceptional volunteer program. Trellis volunteers serve in various capacities from Medicare counseling to assisting the Senior Linkage Line, to making presentations in the community. In 2019 the program had 69 volunteers. With Jetta’s leadership, it has grown to 115 volunteers!

Central to the success of the program is Jetta’s recruitment strategy: aligning volunteer skills with roles, with comprehensive training which equips volunteers to excel. Jetta has also prioritized the needs of diverse populations in the Twin Cities, recruiting volunteers who speak multiple languages. Because of this recruitment, Trellis has been able to reach marginalized populations more effectively. 

In addition, Jetta has established a Volunteer Ambassador role, created volunteer committees, developed a feedback process, among so many other initiatives. Jetta is truly a visionary leader in the field of volunteerism. She models selflessness and dedication and is admired by colleagues and volunteers alike. 

We thank Jetta for her hard work and leadership in making our volunteers and those around her feel empowered to make a difference. Congratulations, Jetta!