TEGNA Inc. together with its Make A Difference Day (MDDAY) partners Arby’s Foundation and Points of Light, announced National and All Star award winners from across the country who are being honored for fostering local volunteerism and having a positive impact in their communities.

Connections Volunteer Center (Connections) was named an All Star winner, which is selected from projects that have previously won a National MDDAY award. Connections will receive a $10,000 grant from the TEGNA Foundation. In additiona, 13 National award-winners will each receive a $10,000 grant from Arby’s Foundation. The grants allow honorees to support a charity related to their MDDAY project and to continue to make a difference in their community.

This year’s winning projects were selected from nearly 800 projects that took place on Make A Difference Day, Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. More than 100,000 volunteers from more than 500 communities in nearly every state came out for a variety of projects. Locally organized events ranged from planting trees along local streams to knitting caps for premature babies in local hospitals, and providing meals and comfort to lonely seniors to collecting food for local food banks.

Videos celebrating the MDDAY winners are available on http://www.makeadifferenceday.com/ and on https://www.facebook.com/HeartThreadsVideos as well as by following #MDDay.

Colleen Dennis, volunteer resource and Make A Difference Day project coordinator, said she was excited and honored to receive the award as it demonstrates continued impact and positions Connections as a national model.

“It means so much to our team to be recognized at the national level for our hard work as we strive to ensure MDDAY is a meaningful and memorable experience for everyone. We coordinate this annual event with wide-lens thinking hoping to attract volunteers of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds throughout Delaware County. It’s our intent to ensure that everyone who participates is able to give or get help in a way that truly makes a difference.”

Connections won the MDDay national award in 2015, which qualified the organization to be considered for the All Star Award – reserved for the best of the best. This year’s event included more than 400 volunteers who visited 53 homes of senior homeowners in Delaware County. Volunteers completed much-needed outdoor chores, including leaf raking, window washing, garden clean up, hedge trimming, and more, all in an effort to help older adults maintain their independence and pride in their homes. Not only did volunteers serve older adults at their homes, older adult volunteers took on leadership roles in the local projects throughout the day. Additionally, this year’s event expanded by adding a launch site in Sunbury — the eastern part of the county.

“MDDay is all about serving the great good and fostering a spirit of community,” Dennis said. “For many, it’s an introduction to volunteering while others have leveraged the day as an annual family or team building activity centered on leading and lending support to causes and community they care most about.”

Dennis believes that volunteering opens up many possibilities including meeting new people, cultivating the spirit of giving and making one’s community a place everyone can thrive.

“A giving person is a happy person,” Dennis said. “We are here to guide ‘the happy’ and provide powerful experiences that connect people to volunteerism and to each other – as we’re responsible for creating the community we want to see in Delaware County.”

About Connections Volunteer Center

Founded in 1996, Connections coordinates the referral and placement of volunteers for more than 70 different agencies who offer more than 200 volunteer opportunities. In the past year, Connections matched over 1,300 volunteers who engaged in nearly 20,000 hours of service to the community.

A program of HelpLine, Connections core services are partially funded by United Way of Delaware County and SourcePoint.


Special to The Gazette

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