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Celebrating Volunteers

Honoring and Celebrating Giving from the Heart

A community celebration of volunteering

Each spring, hundreds of people in the Fox Valley area of Wisconsin come together to celebrate volunteerism and honor those who go above and beyond to help make the community a better place with their gifts of time.

Volunteer awards in eight categories were presented during the 20th Celebrating Volunteers community gala May 2 in downtown Appleton.

New this year, the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley’s Communication and Theater Arts 106 class produced videos about each award recipient.

Kaylie Bittner – Youth Scholarship Award, sponsored by Community First Credit Union. She receives a $1,500 scholarship and she directed her $1,000 prize to the Neenah Menasha Emergency Society.


Marie Waddell – Dan P. Spalding Volunteer Educator Award, sponsored by School Specialty. She divided her $5,000 prize between CASA of the Fox Cities and the Ferber Elementary School endowment.


Jane Dwyre Garton – Walter L. Rugland Community Service Award, sponsored by Thrivent Financial. She divided her $5,000 prize between Friends of the Appleton Library and the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region.


Sally Podoski – Paul and Elaine Groth Mentoring Award, sponsored by Mielke Family Foundation. She directed her $5,000 prize to Best Friends of Neenah-Menasha.


Lee Hillstrom – Health Care Volunteer Award, sponsored by Ascension and ThedaCare. He directed his $5,000 prize to Us TOO Fox Cities prostate cancer support group.


Mary Downs – Janet Berry Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by The Post-Crescent. She divided her $5,000 prize between mental health organizations NAMI Fox Valley and CHAPS.


Carolyn Ragusett – Hanns Kretzschmar Award for Excellence in Arts, sponsored by Thrivent Financial. She divided her $5,000 prize between Attic Theatre and the Fox Valley Symphony.


Thanks to the generosity of award sponsors, each award recipient receives $5,000 for their favorite Fox Valley charity (youth recipient receives $1,000 for charity plus a $1,500 scholarship).

Since 1998, award sponsors have given $660,000 to local charities selected by their award recipients!

Mary Poulson

2016 Paul & Elaine Groth Mentoring Award

Sponsored By Mielke Family Foundation

Tom Prosser

2016 Walter L. Rugland Community Service Award

Sponsored By Thrivent Financial

Drew & Diane MacDonald

2016 Janet Berry Volunteer of the Year Award

Sponsored By The Post-Crescent

2016 Recipients

Hover over a recipient to learn more

Jennifer Johnson

2016 Hanns Kretzschmar Award for Excellence in the Arts

Sponsored By Thrivent Financial

Susan & John McFadden

2016 Health Care Volunteer Award

Sponsored By Ascension and ThedaCare

Zero Tolerance

2016 Dan P. Spalding Volunteer Educator Award

Sponsored By School Specialty

Leah Witthuhn

2016 Youth Scholarship Award

Sponsored By Community First Credit Union

Bergstrom Automotive and Make-A-Wish Foundation

2016 Business Partnership Award

Sponsored By SECURA Insurance