The Upper Peninsula is fortunate to have an abundance of caring, giving volunteers. When they see a need, they selflessly step in to fill it. The U.P. Volunteer Network salutes these unsung heroes with the annual U.P. Service Awards. By highlighting the efforts of these citizens who give so much for the betterment of their communities, we hope to inspire others to serve. Please join us in recognizing these outstanding community servants!
Youth Award: Holly Thoune, 19, of Felch is one self-motivated individual. A 2012 graduate of North Dickinson High School, Thoune spent much of her junior and senior years volunteering in her school and community. At school, she collected and sorted clothing for students in need, carved pumpkins for a food bank, created items for a fundraiser craft show and organized a Valentine’s dance for middle school students. Outside school, Thoune volunteered at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore and assisted with a blood drive and flu clinic. She also made holiday cards and delivered them to patients at the veterans’ hospital in Iron Mountain. Thoune has overcome many obstacles in her life. After moving several times during high school and having to make up a year of school, she made the honor roll four consecutive semesters and graduated with a high grade point average.
Adult Award: Loren Smith of Sault St. Marie is so dedicated to his position as Volunteer Transportation Coordinator with the Chippewa County Department of Human Services, he is literally the first person at work every morning. He averages more than 20 hours of service a week and has provided more than 10,400 hours since he began volunteering with DHS in 2001. He coordinates more than 20 volunteers who provide transportation for clients to receive medical services, to reunite children and parents, for visitation or placement and to fulfill special requests from staff. In addition, Smith has helped send needy children to summer camp, provided Christmas presents and baskets to needy families and has partnered with a local business to collect donations of back-to-school supplies for low-income and foster children. He has also volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters as a driver and chaperone. Smith does all this despite a tracheotomy and serious mobility issues.
Senior Award: Will Carne of Escanaba is committed to economic and workforce development. As chairman of the Job Force Board, he provides strategic leadership for workforce development and six Michigan Works! Service Centers in the central Upper Peninsula. Carne builds bridges and establishes successful partnerships between businesses and educational institutions to develop the area’s workforce into the high-quality, self-motivated pool of workers businesses need to survive in today’s global marketplace. Carne has served as co-chair for United Way of Delta County and as a board member for over 28 years. He has served on the Escanaba Area Public School Board for over 20 years, Delta County Community Foundation Board for over 30 years, Chamber Ambassador Club of Delta County and the board of Lake State Industries. He is involved with the fund drive for Bay Cliff Health Camp, works with the Northern Michigan University Development Fund and serves on the Bay College Automotive Advisory Board and Bay College Century Club.
Volunteer Program Award: Lake Superior Hospice is a nonprofit organization serving Marquette and Alger Counties for over 30 years with care, compassion and commitment. The goal of hospice is to improve quality of life for patients near the end of life by providing relief from symptoms, pain, and stress of serious illness. Hospice also addresses the needs of the family and friends of the patient so that all concerned can maintain dignity and quality of life. Volunteers at Lake Superior Hospice bring support to patients and their families who may not have slept well in days, had a decent meal in weeks or been outside for a walk in months. In the past year, nearly 60 volunteers have provided over 1,500 hours of service to more than 300 patients and their families.
Business Community Leader Award: Shortly after opening as a family business over 50 years ago, Autore Oil of Cedarville established “automatic delivery” so customers wouldn’t run out of fuel by forgetting to order. This was a first-of-its-kind service and served as the foundation for the company’s commitment to customer care and service. More recently, when the Community Action Agency’s commodity food program was left without transportation, Autore Oil sent trucks to Lansing to pick up food and deliver it to needy families at no cost. The company donated $6,500 to help open the Take Five Adult Day Services center in Newberry and established the $700 Donation Club in which businesses and individuals donate $700 to help meet the needs of low-income families. The Autore family also helped finance and construct the Head Start/Preschool Center in Cedarville. Last but not least, the company has delivered fuel on many occasions to needy families or the elderly without questions or concern for payment.