MUSKEGON, MI – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Community Service Commission has announced the winners of the 2019 Governor’s Service Awards. The winners are individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations that were selected for their commitment to volunteerism, service or philanthropy.
“Our state is lucky to have such outstanding Michiganders who work hard every single day to build a home for opportunity for everyone. Whether it’s uplifting our neighborhoods or bringing communities together when tragedy strikes, they do this work even when nobody’s looking because they know that every contribution makes a huge impact,” Whitmer said. “I’m proud to present the Governor’s Service Awards to this year’s recipients as recognition of their sacrifice and dedication throughout our state.”
We are proud to share that three of the winners are from our West Michigan area:
Senior Volunteer of the Year: Mildred Bond Johnson, 84, has been serving her community of Muskegon Heights and the surrounding area for more than 60 years. She has continuously advocated for the power of education, faith and giving back to those in need. Mildred’s great-grandfather was a freed slave from Tennessee. He believed in helping others and started a church and a schoolhouse. Mildred carried on the legacy to serve those in need. She is admired for her dedication to educating youth and spending more than 30 years teaching in the Muskegon Public Schools. She also served as a long-term advocate for civil rights and equality. Mildred serves as a mentor and director with SNICKERS youth program, which assists youth to gain life skills and success. She has volunteered with many organizations to help support pressing issues of homelessness and food insecurity including Habitat for Humanity, NAACP, and the James Jackson African American museum. Mildred has always possessed characteristics of loyalty, humility, kindness, and a genuine love for people. She is a true inspiration and her passion is contagious.
Senior Volunteer of the Year: Jelanie Bush stands as the epitome of service in the Newaygo County of West Michigan as she has dedicated well over 13,000 volunteer hours for her community. Jelanie has devoted her life to building a brighter future for the world around her by serving a variety of causes, ranging from the environment and food security to low-income children and struggling seniors. She served at TrueNorth Community Services as a board member where she helped lead the organization through a magnitude of programs and staff growth. She has volunteered thousands of hours for events like the Senior Thanksgiving Luncheon, Camp Newaygo’s Building a Healthy Future capital campaign, and the Children’s Christmas Program. In addition to these incredible programs, Jelanie has also spent more than 15 years as a member of the Michigan Botanical Club, where she gives her time to educate the public on conservation of native plants and cooperates in programs concerned with the use and conservation of all-natural resources and scenic features. TrueNorth has honored Jelanie with various volunteer awards, and the community is constantly in awe of her passion for service in Newaygo County and beyond. She is an inspiration to everyone.
Youth Volunteer of the Year: Jocelyn Hines has shown incredible passion for activism and advocacy for women, people of color and prosperity in her community of Muskegon and surrounding area. The 24-year-old Michigan State University alumnus is a natural-born leader who has dedicated her life to organizing strong community neighborhoods and being a bold voice for social justice. She created the Muskegon Young Black Professionals – a group that has become a safe space for young professionals of color to network and develop their skills in a professional workforce. She has spent hundreds of hours serving communities and leading the discussion for change. She’s currently working on making an impact at the local and governmental level by working on campaigns and building relationships between county government members and the community. Her reputation in the community has grown with her work to organize groups and initiate positive change. She has become a role model to young people as she serves as a catalyst for helping peoples’ voices to be heard.
The Governor’s Service Awards winners will be honored during a special ceremony hosted by the Michigan Community Service Commission at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Detroit Opera House. Admission is free, but registration is required. To register, visit https://2019governorsserviceawards.eventbrite.com.