"We have joined here tonight to recognize exceptional volunteers who work to make Nevada a better state," said Governor Jim Gibbons. "Through their hard work, and the work of all Nevada Volunteers, we are able to provide $16 of community services for every dollar in funding that the Nevada Volunteers Commission receives in funding from the state. These are certainly numbers to be proud of ."
The ceremony recognized seven outstanding volunteers and organizations from around the state of Nevada. Chosen from an impressive group of finalists for the 2008 Governor's Points of Light Awards, the winners are as follows.
The winner for Individual North was Ralph Toddre, president and COO of Sunbelt Communications Company, is the father of three small children, two of whom have autism and other disabilities. Inspired by their needs, Toddre pioneered his brainchild, The Autism Coalition of Nevada (ACON) as founder and executive director. ACON's mission is to unite individual autism groups with families and public and private sector entities into one united coalition. Through Toddre's efforts ACON was the driving force behind the 2007 legislation that allocated funding for Nevada's families of children with autism.
The winner for Individual South was Pastor Troy Martinez, whose church, the East Vegas Christian Center (EVCC), began nine years ago in a storefront building. Today, EVCC is a 10,000-square-foot facility located on five acres at Sunrise Mountain. Pastor Troy founded 10,000 Kids, a non-profit that improves the lives of a minimum of 10,000 kids annually with gang intervention and crystal meth education in Southern Nevada. Pastor Troy is chairman of Las Vegas Crystal Darkness Campaign, educating prevention on methamphetamine use.
The winner for Individual Rural was Jack Smith has been a resident of Ely since he was two-years-old. Throughout his adult life, Smith has been a strong advocate and volunteer for the community. As one of the organizers of the Ely Renaissance Society (a group of volunteers that joined together restoring historic downtown area through outdoor art), his effectiveness was seen when he undertook the arduous task of making Ely's downtown attractive despite closed businesses, buildings in disrepair, and discouraged merchants. Turning a closed gas station and a community eyesore into an attractive "architectural mural" by using antique gas pumps, delivery truck and bright signs was one of his first successes. During the downtown revival, the town's only department store closed. Smith was instrumental in creating the community owned store that's currently a reality. Smith continues to work diligently to make his community attractive and viable.
The winner for Non-Profit Service Organization was Children's Miracle Network of Southern Nevada has helped children in Southern Nevada receive life-saving services for more than 24 years. CMN is a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to improve the lives of children by sponsoring children's hospitals and pediatric units across America.
The winner for Corporate/Business was Pardee Homes started with a special holiday giving project in lieu of an employee party, and ended with the complete renovation of the St Jude's Ranch for Children Campus, which had an estimated value in excess of $1 million. Called Building Hope, and working with HomeAid Southern Nevada, Pardee enlisted more than 100 volunteer subcontractor partners to renovate and refurbish the cottages and grounds that are home to nearly 50 abused, neglected and abandoned children.
The winner for the Nevada Youth Award was Lanie Patten, a Wooster High School student who became a committed member of the newly formed Key Club (an international organization that focuses on community service and charity work) after being elected treasurer of club elections, even though she knew it would mean building the club and its systems from scratch. Patten worked all summer long drafting plans on how to keep kids interested, motivated and involved. Because of the systems Patten developed, Wooster's Key Club is the newest and largest in Reno.
The winner for the Nevada Senior Award was Jean Peyton who has, since arriving in Las Vegas in 1994, made a marked difference within the blind community through volunteering. She established Senior Vision, a program that brings seniors with vision loss together at monthly luncheons, encouraging peer support as senior citizens face the adjustments to vision loss.