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POSTED: Tuesday, April 24, 2012
MPRB presents Volunteer of the Year Awards

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is pleased to recognize outstanding volunteers for their work in 2011. These volunteers are representative of the thousands of individuals who donate their time and talent each year to improve the park system. Through the Volunteer of the Year Awards, the invaluable contributions made by individuals and volunteer groups are highlighted. The awards recognize these outstanding efforts, and signify the importance of every volunteer to the success of the MPRB.

The award recipients were honored during a ceremony and reception at Wednesday's Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

Five adults and one group were recognized with the Remarkable Volunteer Service Awards. Each honoree received an art piece as an award and in addition, a donation of $500 will be made to the park program they served as a volunteer. The funds will be used to enhance programming or purchase needed materials and supplies.

Six teenagers were honored with the Rising Star Award. These teen volunteers have brought enthusiasm and leadership to the parks they serve. The teens will receive an award and appreciation gift for their contributions to the system.

Adult Remarkable Volunteer Service Award Recipients

Adult Remarkable Service Award Recipients
Adult Remarkable Volunteer Service Award Recipients (pictured left to right): Tony Tolliver, Richard Terrell, Nedra Robinson, Mara Larson, Nico Rocque.

Friends of Loring Park
The Friends of Loring Park (pictured left to right): Todd Miller, RS, Lee Frelich, Marcia Stout, Ione Siegel, Ede Holmen.

Tony Tolliver – Lind Bohanon neighborhood
For more than five years, Tony has been a coach for multiple youth sports teams at Creekview Park. Tony is a role model and mentor for the youth, teens, and young adults. As a coach, Tony believes that you need to go beyond the “x’s and o’s of the playing field” to make an impact on kids on your community. It’s Tony’s positive attitude, caring heart, and ability to help kids undersand the importance of being accountable for their actions that makes him stand out.

As a Public Affairs Leader at two local companies, Tony was instrumental in corporate funds being allocated to multiple programs and needs at Creekview Park. Today, Tony works in Diversity and Inclusion at Ameriprise Financial and he continues to demonstrate his passion for making a difference in North Minneapolis and throughout the Twin Cities by partnering with community leaders, serving on non-profit boards and coaching youth sports at Creekview. The $500 monetary award will be used to purchase indoor and outdoor games to keep kids physically active and their minds engaged.

Richard Terrell – Morris Park neighborhood
For more than 3 years, Richard has been volunteering at Green Central Gym as the Young Mens’ Group Leader. Richard meets with the teen boys weekly, spending significant time and sharing his life experiences, struggles and lessons learned. Richard recently graduated from college and has been accepted to Seminary school where he will pursue his Masters of Divinity. It is wonderful for the neighborhood youth to have a role model like Richard and to know that it is possible for them to be successful, regardless of their current circumstances. Richard’s commitment to the program shows youth that they can make positive choices that will impact their future and they can go well beyond the boundaries of their neighborhood. Richard says that the greatest reward for his work is seeing the boys grow into young men. He believes that the one thing that teenagers in is community truly need are role models that they can look up to and mentors who will love and support them no matter what. The $500 award will be used for programming for Young Mens Group at Green Central Gym.

Nedra Robinson - Bancroft neighborhood
Nedra grew up in the McRae Park neighborhood, and raised her children there as well. It is through youth sports where her son, Derreck Robinson, discovered and developed his talent for football which has taken him far as he is now playing in the NFL. Nedra and Derreck believe strongly in giving back to the community and when Derreck had the idea to start a football camp, Nedra was excited to make his vision a reality, creating the “Ed Solomon Green Machine Football Camp”, named in honor of Ed Solomon, Derreck’s first coach at McRae. For more than five years, this free of cost, non-tackle football camp has been open to boys and girls ages 6-16 and is run by family, friends, and volunteers. Recently, Nedra also created a cheerleading camp to compliment the football camp. Anne Kegley notes that McRae Park is a far better place because Nedra Robinson is a community member, active supporter and volunteer. The $500 award will be used to further the camp and purchase needed equipment for the kids.

Mara Larson – Saint Paul
Mara was nominated for this award by fellow volunteer Shawn Sheely and MPRB employee Jennifer Ringold. Mara has been voluteering for the Theodore Wirth Trail System with the Minneapolis Off-Road Cyclists (known as MOCA) for eight years. Starting as a trail worker, Mara learned to build trails and moved up the ranks to become a certified Trail Boss and eventually a Trail Steward. For the past five years, Mara has also served on MOCAs Board as Secretary and Treasurer. She organizes volunteers, equipment, logistics, and handles all Park Board communications. Shawn stated that Mara is the glue that keeps the ongoing effort to build and maintain the Wirth Trail System going. Mara said that watching the singletrack in Wirth Park evolve from idea to reality has been amazing. She is flattered to receive this award and wants to note that MOCA as a group is truly deserving as their success to date wouldn’t be possible without the wonderful team of volunteers who have invested countless hours to make the effort happen. The $500 award will be used for trail mainteance and enhancements.

Nico Rocque - Jordan neighborhood
For the past four years, Nico has been coaching youth flag football, tackle football, and basketball at Folwell Park. A coach, teacher, and mentor who leads by example, Nico volunteers with other northside and park related activities including the Festival of Fathers, Holiday on 44th, Harvest Festival, and M.E.L.D., a group which supports young fathers under the age of 21. As a northside resident, Nico is always seeking to give back to his community. Nico believes in teaching the young men in his community to look at discipline in a positive manner in order to create a foundation of self-motivation and development. In working with youth, Nico keeps in mind the Chinese proverb “tell me, I forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me and I’ll understand.” The $500 award will be used for youth sports programming, primarily as a scholarship fund to cover costs for youth who cannot otherwise afford to participate.

The Friends of Loring Park
The Friends of Loring Park was established 15 years ago with the goal of collaborating with the Park Board to provide the public with a beautiful park that is environmentally and socially sound. After two years of community input, volunteers installed the Garden of the Seasons, which is 20,000 square feet in size. Since that time, the group has worked to build and maintain a volunteer workforce and fundraise for projects throughout Loring. More than 30 regular volunteers tend the Garden regularly, totaling more than 400 hours each year. Every spring more than 2,500 annuals are planted in the Garden.

In addition to gardening, the Friends do a significant amount of fundraising. Fundraising efforts have resulted in the establishment of eleven new garden beds, more than 300 trees throughout the park, and native plantings around Loring Pond. The group has lead efforts to sell and install more than 1,000 personalized pavers throughout the pathway of the Garden of the Seasons. The funds secured from paver sales help support ongoing garden maintenance. The $500 award will be used to further the great work of this group in Loring Park.

Youth Rising Star Award Recipients

Youth Rising Star Award Recipients
Youth Rising Star Award Recipients (pictured left to right): Sophia Rose Negash, Isabel Graciano Reyes, Romeo Wright, LaChassittie “Chazzy” Taylor, Kailash “K” Acharya, Numonie Jones.

Sophia Rose Negash – Powderhorn Park neighborhood
Sophia has been volunteering at Powderhorn Recreation Center for the past year. Sophia began volunteering with a Youthline program called Face2Face – the goal of the program was to strengthen relationships between youth and police. By promoting the program at school and in the park, and playing a key role in organizing the program’s final event, Sophia established herself as a youth leader. Since her involvement with Face2Face, Sophia continues to volunteer 8-12 hours per week in a homework help and craft program that she helped to envision and create.

Isabel Graciano Reyes – Powderhorn Park neighborhood
Isabel can best be described as an ambassador for the Minneapolis Parks and Powderhorn Recreation Center in particular. Over the past two years, Isabel created an after-school bilingual homework help and craft program for 4-9 year olds. In addition, she assisted staff by interpreting for Spanish speaking families if a Spanish speaking staff member was not on duty at the park. Isabel has been helpful building positive relationships between the Powderhorn Recreation Center and Spanish-speaking community members through her enthusiastic promotion of park programs. Because of Isabel’s wonderful customer service skills, her leadership, and connection to the community, she joined the staff of Powderhorn Recreation Center as a youth worker in 2012.

Romeo Wright – Central neighborhood
Romeo has been volunteering at Green Central Gym for more than a year. As a Youthline participant, Romeo is always willing to help staff with whatever is needed. His talents are especially appreciated when he assists with cooking for park programs including the boys’ group and movie nights. As an active participant in groups, Romeo is a role model for his peers as well as younger kids in the community.

LaChassittie “Chazzy” Taylor – Logan Park neighborhood
Chazzy is a Youthline volunteer as a participant in Youthline’s gang prevention mentoring program at Logan Park. Her smile, fun attitude, and great sense of humor make her a positive influence in the park. Through Chazzy’s volunteer involvement with Youthline, she spent the day serving sweet corn at the Community Festival at Farview Park following the tornado that hit north Minneapolis last year. Her positive attitude, kindness and friendly service contributed significantly to the overall atmosphere and sense of teamwork during this difficult time for the community.

Kailash “K” Acharya – East Phillips neighborhood
Since the doors opened at East Phillips Cultural and Community Center about a year ago, “K” has been volunteering an average of 20 hours each week. He is the driving force behind concession sales during Saturday basketball games. He is at the park early popping popcorn, making coffee, and preparing for a long day of sales. In addition, he assists staff with a children’s movie night program. K is an outgoing young man that takes on any volunteer task with a smile on his face. His leadership and commitment to the Community Center are above and beyond what most would expect out of an eighth grader.

Numonie Jones - Whittier neighborhood
As a member of the Youthline program for two years, Numonie comes to Whittier Park with a positive attitude and willingness to help out with things that need attention. He is the first person to step up to volunteer at events and encourages his peers to volunteer as well. Numonie is one the younger teens in the Whittier Youthline program but that doesn’t stop him from being a leader at the park. His welcoming personality makes it easy for him to get along with anyone that comes through the doors at Whittier and he is looked at as a role model for younger youth in the community.

CONTACT: Michelle Kellogg
Coordinator of Volunteers & Community Partnerships
Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, 612-313-7778

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