Chassell youth, Ontonagon woman among volunteer award recipients

A Chassell youth and an Ontonagon woman are among the recipients of the 12th annual U.P. Service Awards.

Grow & Lead: Community and Youth Development presents the awards to recognize exemplary volunteer and charitable efforts throughout the Upper Peninsula. Award categories include senior, ages 65 and above; adult, ages 21-64; youth, under 21, volunteer program and business community leader.

“In a year that is exceptionally challenging for so many individuals and organizations, it is especially gratifying to recognize community servants who give freely of their time and talents to help others,” said Amy Quinn, Grow & Lead CEO. “Volunteers are the backbone of the nonprofit sector, and without them, many vital services would go undelivered. The U.P. Service Awards program is a way to honor the contributions of these unsung heroes.”

Micaela Geborkoff, 16, of Chassell is the recipient of the award in the youth category. Among her many volunteer activities, Geborkoff serves on the granting committee of the Keweenaw Community Foundation’s Student Leadership and Advisory Council of the Keweenaw (SLACK) and participates in service projects with the group. As president of the Houghton County Service 4-H Club she seeks out, organizes and leads service projects such as the Houghton County Father’s Day Flood restoration, which has been ongoing for two years. She has also winterized homes of community members through a partnership between the Houghton Energy Efficiency Team, SLACK and 4-H.

Melissa Santini of Ontonagon is the award recipient in the adult category. Santini started volunteering with Dial Help in Houghton in 2015. Since then, she has answered 800 calls on its crisis line and serves as a victim advocate in Ontonagon. She helps connect clients to the local resources they need. According to her nominators, she provides a calm listening ear to those in need, a safe place to those who may have none and empowerment to those who are feeling insignificant.

Dennis Tasson of Ishpeming is the recipient in the senior category. Tasson volunteers at Clear Lake Education Center near Manistique. He serves as the president of the Clear Lake Stewards Group which raises funds to support the camp. He also is a certified high ropes course instructor at the camp. He began coordinating school group trips to Clear Lake 22 years ago as principal of Aspen Ridge Middle School in the NICE Community Schools district. After Tasson retired in 2011, he continued spearheading the school’s effort to ensure each seventh grader could attend the camp for a three-day, overnight learning experience. He works with families and local businesses to make the trip affordable to all.

Gulliver Historical Society, recipient of the award in the volunteer program category, operates the Seul Choix Pointe Lighthouse on Lake Michigan in Gulliver. The all-volunteer organization preserves the light, which it restored 32 years ago, and maintains the surrounding six-acre grounds which includes seven buildings. Volunteer tour guides in period clothing greet visitors and tell the history of the lighthouse and people who served there. Volunteers also conduct fundraisers; update museum displays and operate a research and genealogy library and a gift shop.

Jacquart Fabric Products of Ironwood, home of the Stormy Kromer brand, receives the award in the business community leader category. Responding to the COVID pandemic in March, the cut-and-sew manufacturing business changed over its main production floor, engineered masks and gowns, sourced material and began producing personal protective equipment for healthcare and other frontline workers. In May, they launched a Stormy Kromer mask with 10% of ongoing sales donated to the Gogebic Range Health Foundation in Ironwood and St. Luke New Life Center in Flint.

Grow & Lead provides nonprofit and youth-serving organizations with expertise, training and learning opportunities so that all youth can thrive in healthy communities across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. For more information regarding Grow & Lead and the U.P. Service Awards, visit glcyd.org.

Due to COVID-19 concerns, rather than an awards luncheon as in years past, recipients will be recognized at individual private events, some in-person, some virtual. Media is invited for interviews and/or pictures. Here is a schedule of events:

Adult Volunteer Award Presentation

September 18, 11 a.m. on Zoom. Melissa Santini will participate from Dial Help, 609 Shelden Ave., Houghton

Join Zoom Meeting here ID: 874 7543 7820Passcode: 366149

Youth Volunteer Award Presentation

September 21, 5:30 p.m. on Zoom

Join Zoom Meeting here

Meeting ID: 940 5354 7693

Passcode: service

Senior Volunteer Award Presentation for Dennis Tasson

September 17, 4 p.m. at Al Quaal Recreation Area pavilion in Ishpeming

Volunteer Program Award Presentation

September 16, 11 a.m. at Seul Choix Pointe Lighthouse 3183 Co. Hwy. 431, Gulliver

Business Community Leader Award Presentation

September 23, Noon Eastern/11 a.m. Central at Jacquart Fabric Products, 1238 Wall St., Ironwood


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