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Jackson College Heritage Center students pose at a 2017 event.  Photo courtesy Jackson College.

Gov. Rick Snyder today announced Jackson College and Carlene Walz Lefere of Jackson are two of the 38 winners of the 2018 Governor’s Service Awards. The winners are individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations that were selected for their commitment to volunteerism, service or philanthropy. 

“This year’s winners have inspiring stories. They have made a tremendous impact on the lives of others through their service,” Snyder said. “I am extremely grateful for the contributions they have made for Michigan and am honored to recognize their incredible accomplishments.”

The winners include The Jackson College Heritage Center as Education Service Leader.  For the past 10 years, under the leadership of Professor Diana Agy, Heritage Center volunteers have worked with museums, local historians and artists to create a greater sense of belonging among community members.  Since 2007, students have spent over 18,000 volunteer hours collecting over 100 oral stories, renovating a museum, making four documentary films and constructing two genealogy quilts, all for sharing lost stories.  They’ve also developed a new Heritage Center space, where locals and former military members have the opportunity to share their stories with the community.  Jason Valente,  President of Jackson College Foundation said: “Our students did this work without any expectation of reciprocity. They are in the business of making the invisible visible.”

In partnership with the Michigan Community Service Commission; the Council of Michigan Foundations and the Michigan Nonprofit Association will give a Community Foundation Philanthropy Award to Carlene Walz Lefere of Jackson.

Retired Judge Lefere joined the Jackson Community Foundation in 2002 and has served as both board chair and interim CEO for nine months during a leadership transition. She was a pivotal advocate in the foundation’s decision to start the Jackson Legacy Program, making a promise to help students pay for college and creation of the College and Career Access Center for which she serves on the board. Enthused about the enduring nature of a community foundation, Carlene created The Walz Family Fund as a donor advised fund to engage her children and grandchildren in the years ahead. A community champion, Carlene’s leadership continues as an active member of the Jackson Women for Equity Committee, the Cascade Falls Champion Committee and the Board of Legal Services of South Central Michigan.

The Governor’s Service Awards winners will be honored during a special ceremony hosted by the Michigan Community Service Commission on Tuesday, June 5, at the Wharton Center in East Lansing.

The complete list of winners: (Click the winner’s name to view their full biography)

Gov. George Romney Lifetime Achievement AwardLowell Spieth(Hillsdale)

Lifetime Humanitarian AwardJohn and Cleo Leppien (Alma), Marsha J. Smith (Traverse City)

Volunteer of the YearTimothy Danielson (Ludington), Kenyetta Dotson(Flint), Connor Miller (Traverse City), Wendy Jo Morrison (Brighton)

Senior Volunteer of the YearSarah “Sally” Fallon (Hillsdale), Lyle Gunderson (Ludington), Virginia Ellen Abbott-Maxwell (Benton Harbor), Doris McCutcheon (Auburn Hills), Mary C. Payne (Muskegon), Jan Thomas(Copemish), Sandra Bowden-Whelton (Williamston)

Youth Volunteer of the YearAllison Heath (Bloomfield Hills), Desiree Herrst (Bellaire), Ahmad Hider (Dearborn), Chintan Maheshwari (Farmington Hills), Katie Sesi (Ann Arbor), Katharine Shao (Northville), Christopher Wendt(Newberry)

Mentor of the YearLee Ellen Kerr (Auburn Hills), John Noling (Muskegon), Khali Sweeney (Detroit), Charles Thomas (Sterling Heights)

Outstanding Volunteer ProgramLake Superior Volunteer Corps(Marquette), Life Remodeled (Detroit), Team Rubicon Michigan (Statewide)

Outstanding National Service ProgramAdvise MI at Michigan College Access Network (Lansing), RSVP at Valley Area Agency Aging (Flint), Rural Opportunity VISTA program at Community Economic Development Association of Michigan (Lansing)

Corporate Community LeaderDort Federal Credit Union (Grand Blanc), Lansing Board of Water & Light (Lansing), Sachse Construction (Detroit), teamGM Cares (Detroit)

Education Service LeaderJackson College  (Jackson), Michigan State University (East Lansing), University of Michigan-Flint (Flint)

In partnership with the Michigan Community Service Commission, the Council of Michigan Foundations and the Michigan Nonprofit Association will give two Community Foundation Philanthropy Awards.

Community Foundation Philanthropy Award: Charles “Charley” Janssen(Lansing), Carlene Walz Lefere (Jackson).

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