Spirit of NH Awards: Past to Present
The Spirit of NH Awards are the largest volunteer recognition event in New Hampshire. Since 2003, Volunteer NH has honored individuals and groups who have exemplified an ethic of service and a commitment to improving their communities. Read on to learn more about the top award recipients throughout our history.
2023 Nominations to open in the spring
About the Awards
Volunteer Service Awards recognize individuals and groups who provide volunteer services that strengthen communities and improve the lives of New Hampshire residents. These awards honor outstanding volunteers – or groups of volunteers – who reflect the strong ethic of service and volunteerism in our state. They are presented within the following categories:
- Youth/Young Adults (age 22 and younger)
- Adults (23-64)
- Seniors (age 65+)
- National Service Members (a person of any age being recognized for their efforts in a National Service program such as AmeriCorps State/National, AmeriCorps VISTA, Senior Corps, etc.)
Volunteer Champion Awards recognize outstanding volunteer initiatives that provide the infrastructure for volunteers to be successful in their service. Awards in the Volunteer Champion category recognize excellent program management, fund development efforts that sustain volunteer programs, and commitment of time/resources to engage employees in community volunteer roles. They are presented to:
- Nonprofit/Public Service Organizations
The highest scoring nominations from each category receive a special Outstanding Award. One Volunteer Service Award recipient is chosen to receive the top Spirit of NH Award.
Aaron Joy is an Philips Exeter Academy student and the founder of the Uplift Foundation. The Uplift Foundation is an educational service that has taught over 400 students in New Hampshire and beyond in public speaking and debate, essay writing, and entrepreneurship. While the program is free, all donations made by families go directly back into New Hampshire communities. Aaron has donated nearly 9,000 between multiple Manchester public schools and Overcomers, a Concord-based organization serving refugees and immigrants. Aaron, a high school student himself, is not only devoted to education, but also to supporting New Americans in the Granite State– this year, he coordinated efforts to formally recognize World Refugee Day in the city of Manchester and organized a celebration centering refugees in the Manchester community at the YWCA. Aaron is diligent in his efforts to provide quality educational opportunities to youth and in his commitment to the cause of immigrants and refugees in New Hampshire.
The McGregor Memorial EMS Volunteers are trailblazers in their commitment to service. Since 1968, volunteers have collectively accumulated over 39,000 hours a year and did not slow down during the COVID-19 pandemic, when they stepped up and made an extensive impact on the Durham, Lee, Madbury, and University of New Hampshire communities. The 70+ volunteers on this team have provided direct medical care to COVID-19 positive and suspected positive patients as first responders. They provided health screenings for the entire New Hampshire state legislature as members met in-person at UNH. Volunteers also staffed countless clinics at UNH and beyond when the vaccine became available. In addition, they helped move the organization to an entirely new emergency headquarters which was established to better meet the challenges created by the pandemic.
McGregor Memorial EMS Volunteers
Jaimie Adams registered on NH Responds when the state put out a call for volunteers to assist with the response to COVID-19 in NH. When a long-term care facility within the South Central Public Health Region found itself with a staffing shortage in April 2020, Jaimie knew that she had to step in.
She volunteered her time and expertise at the facility for six weeks straight, working 3rd shift, 8+ hours/day 4-6 days/week. This meant living in respite housing to avoid infecting her husband and 2-year-old daughter, and completing a 2-week quarantine between the end of her service and finally being able to go home. Jaimie made a tremendous difference in the lives of the residents and staff during her deployment.
Read the poem Jaimie wrote about her experience here.
“It is an honor to work with Tom. He approaches life as an opportunity to make the world better. He invests his energy in the things he believes in: family and volunteering. I am a better person for the insight and perspective he shares with me.” – Volunteer Coordinator, Home Health and Hospice
In his time as a Home Health and Hospice volunteer, Tom Fencil has logged over 1,500 direct care hours. He has served as a volunteer cook, driven patients to appointments at cancer centers, and speaks at volunteer trainings. But his true heart seems to be in serving as a companion volunteer, providing regular friendly visits to hospice patients, and a comforting presence to patients who are actively dying. He is a deeply compassionate man and takes time to build relationships with hospice patients and their families.
“Just by knowing Beth, one benefits.”
Beth Carson is a volunteer with Home Health & Hospice Care. In 2018, she logged over 910 volunteer hours and made 260 visits. Since completing hospice training in 2015, Beth has sat vigil with 155 actively dying patients and sat with 24 patients as they passed so they wouldn’t be alone at their through her compassionate spirit and dedication to serving others.
In 2010, Claire Bloom, a retired naval officer went to a book club meeting where a member who was a school teacher, mentioned she had students who come to school on Monday morning who haven’t eaten since their last meal at school on Friday. Claire was absolutely stunned, so she founded the program End 68 Hours of Hunger.
This nonprofit organization serves over 3,000 children for the school year in eight states – mostly in New England. This program puts nourishing food in the hands of school children to carry them through the weekend. Each bag of food costs roughly $10 each week and provides two breakfasts, two lunches, and three dinners for a child including some leftovers to share with family members. 100% of all funds collected go toward feeding the children.
Stitching up the world
In 2009, the Stitching Up the World volunteer group was formed by the Candia Community Woman’s Club. One of their members, Lisa Cote, heard that there was a need for crocheted and knitted hats for cancer patients in various cancer centers in the area. So she gathered interested club members, friends, and her grandmother to create Stitching Up the World. They began to furnish hats for patients at hospitals and cancer centers throughout the state. By 2016 they made and donated over 15,000 items to New Hampshire citizens and sent some abroad to Africa and Asia!
Gale Stanley‘s commitment to serve the community was built over a lifetime of service to others.
Gale served on The Upper Room’s board of directors for six years, was on the events leadership team, and supervised the all-volunteer food pantry. Always considerate and patient, she deals with each individual as though they are the only priority in her life. Her lifelong dedication to making life better for families sets an example for all our volunteers.
In addition to her work at the Upper Room, Gale has been a member of The General Federation of Women’s Clubs, the nation’s largest women’s volunteer organization, for 31 years, holding a variety of local and state positions. She is a Court Appointed Special Advocate, a trained Guardian Ad Litem, who advocates for the best interest of abused and neglected children through the courts.
In 2013, Doug Moorehead distributed over three tons of food, and provided more than 60 families with bags full of toys and clothing over the holidays. He was instrumental in fundraising for the New Hampshire Special Olympics, and took time off work to help out during the event.
Because of Doug’s work, families that could not afford a holiday celebration were able to have one, seniors who would be alone are together with friends, and the games of the New Hampshire Special Olympics are open to a greater number of athletes.
In 2008 while living at Keystone Hall, Laurie Goguen began volunteering as a member of an advisory committee at Harbor Homes health care clinic. Her ability to articulate the opinions of and represent the target population drew the attention of board members and the CEO. Within just a few months of volunteering, Laurie was asked to join the board. During this time, she chaired the fundraising committee, helping raise more than $74,000, personally sharing her own story of redemption in this effort.
For Laurie, volunteerism is not an avenue to success in the community, rather it is a way of spreading the blessings she has received.
Karl Bye, a Senior Companion with the Belknap Merrimack Community Action Program, was considered one of the stand-up companion volunteers amongst his peers; offering his insight on their Advisory Council board, as well as taking on additional duties as a mentor to other Senior Companions.
He is sincere, dedicated, and passionate about the impact he makes on his visitees and truly commits to making their lives a little brighter with a friendly visit. He does this well with his sharp wit and gentle nature.
Stacey Hoang deeply cares about others, and more importantly, she puts that caring into action. Stacey was involved with Oxfam UNH, a student organization that focuses on issues of hunger and homelessness. During her time there she helped coordinate over 300 volunteers, impacting thousands of people who are affected by food insecurity. Additionally, she directed the semester homeless outreach program to Boston, and organized a monthly group to serve breakfast and lunch at a soup kitchen in Portland, ME serving over 200 people. This alongside numerous hours spent working to alleviate hunger earned her recognition as the Spirit of NH award recipient in 2011.
“Peter embodies the very spirit of volunteerism, always giving, never taking,” Joan Barretto, director of programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Seacoast
Peter Newbury served as a mentor and friend with Big Brothers Big Sisters for 15 years before receiving the Spirit of NH Award in 2010. He was a great role model and positive influence to the young men he served in the program. So much so that he inspired some of them to give back to their communities through volunteerism, too.
Captain Ed Johnson, Fred Schottler, and JoAnne Schottler of the Pease Greeters received the top award in 2009. The Pease Greeters was a brainchild project of Captain Johnson that started with coffee and donuts in 2005 and grew to over 1,300 volunteer greeters. Each deploying or returning flight was met by between 100 and 400 greeters, there to honor and assist the thousands of service men and women passing through the Pease International Tradeport.
Fred joined the group in 2007 and over two years, took more than 30,000 photographs to send to troops and their families across the country. JoAnne began the Care Package Program in 2008, preparing and shipping donations to service members– a total of 6,000 pounds of care package items.
Captain ed johnson, founder of the pease greeters
Ernest Loomis served as the lynchpin between servicemen and women, and their civilian employers. His volunteer work has been recognized nationally by the Defense Department and has made New Hampshire a model for other state National Guard units. He spent countless hours working closely with the National Guard personnel to ensure a seamless reentry back to the workforce after their completion of tour duty. Often volunteering 60-hour weeks, Ernest would get up in the middle of the night to greet and brief returning soldiers.
The State Adjutant General says, “[Ernest’s] service is highlighted by his total commitment and daily involvement in the program. Ernie is a rare individual who has decided to commit his full interests to his volunteer work.”
Helyn Malay volunteered with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and in 2007, she logged over 600 volunteer hours! Her passion for making a difference in the lives of young children from low-income families led her to give back in numerous ways. She was a Pen Pal to third graders helping them to improve their written communication and social skills.
Helyn became aware that many children were in need of warms hats, mittens, and scarves during the winter months. So she gathered some of her fellow Pen Pal volunteers along with other senior neighbors to form a knitting group to make winter accessories for children who would otherwise go without.
Helyn Malay with her hats
Richard Gourley was a volunteer with The Fixit Program since its founding by the Merrimack County United Way in 1994.
Over his time with The Fixit Program, he provided over 5,000 hours of direct service and traveled nearly 27,000 miles – at his own expense – to hundreds of people who needed him.
A retiree himself, Richard found that his volunteer service – making home repairs for the elderly and disabled – was not only very much needed, but enjoyable as well.
The Nashua Evening Exchange Club was an active and well-known group that provided the structure for each of its 27 members to make a significant contribution to the Greater Nashua community.
Each member gave approximately 60 hours of time each year to club projects and events. Through networking, good fellowship and friendship, community service projects and raising the funds to support them, the Nashua Exchange Club impacted the lives of countless children and their families.
members of The nashua evening exchange club with governor lynch
edwin “win” robinson
Edwin “Win” Robinson was honored for his long-time dedication to his community and to New Hampshire’s environment.
He has shared his knowledge of trail building, natural history, entomology, and community affairs with many of his friends and with the younger generation. He was described as a responsible and caring local and world citizen interested in a better quality of life for generations to come. And, through his service, he continued to make the City of Concord and the State of New Hampshire a better place to live.
Rebuilding Together- Greater Manchester, winner of the top award, began their work in the community in 1995 under the initiative, “Christmas in April,” part of a national movement to rehabilitate homes of low-income, elderly, and disabled homeowners.
In 2003, the first Rebuilding Together project was launched on United Way’s Day of Caring. The Youth Development Center, City of Manchester, and Office of Youth Services worked in partnership. Rebuilding Together represented an exemplary model of cross-sector collaboration – bringing together non-profit organizations, small business craftsmen, large corporate donors, banks, mortgage companies and utilities and the municipal government – to accomplish their goals.
attendees enjoying the first spirit of nh dinner