Well-Deserved Recognition After a Year of Good Work: Meet our Volunteer of the Year Award Winners
August 01, 2023
The Volunteer of the Year Award honors individuals who best exemplify the humanitarian spirit of volunteerism.
It’s the highest honor a volunteer can achieve within our chapters, meaning that they made significant contributions to the American Red Cross over the last calendar year. These volunteers worked in multiple roles alongside fellow volunteers and staff, providing support to all lines of service. In short, they exemplify the Red Cross mission, and we are proud to share the 2022 award winners.
San Mateo County – Bay Area Chapter
Ann Kuchins has been a Job Director, Disaster Cycle Services (DCS) Coordinator, Disaster Action Team (DAT) Supervisor and Recovery Team Lead in San Mateo County. She is a hard-working and dedicated volunteer that often deploys during Disaster Response Operations, both locally and across the nation; earlier this spring, she deployed to Guam to help with the response to Typhoon Mawar. She is a mentor and a regional DCS leader, while also caring and generous with her time.
Ann joined the Red Cross to give back something to the community “in a meaningful and productive way.” She is inspired by her colleagues and from the people she meets through each DAT response and deployment. “They demonstrate a resilience and positive outlook during one of the most challenging times in their lives,” Ann said.
She is “deeply honored to be recognized -as Volunteer of the Year- by people for whom I have the utmost respect for their dedication to the mission of the Red Cross. Through them, I am becoming the person I want to be and I am constantly motivated to go the extra mile."
San Benito County – Central Coast Chapter
“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention,” is one of John Crepeau’s favorite quotes and reflects the way he embodies the Red Cross mission.
As a Blood Donor Ambassador, he is committed to providing excellent customer service to our blood donors in San Benito County. He tends to their needs throughout the donation process, always reminds them to come back to donate again and even invites them to join as volunteers as well.
John believes that being a Red Crosser is all about teamwork and camaraderie. “Working with people that share a common interest or need to help others, whether it’s helping with blood donations at a blood drive or deploying on a major disaster. It’s the satisfaction of knowing that we can, as a team, do something that will provide relief for others in need”.
“This award is, in essence, a thank you from all my peers in the Red Cross. It is a way of showing that the Red Cross does appreciate the time and effort that all volunteers devote to the Red Cross mission,” he shared.
Marin County – North Bay Chapter
“The opportunity to truly have an immediate effect on people affected by disasters has touched me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. From the first day I worked in a shelter as an Event-Based Volunteer I knew I’d found something special. I got so much more from it than what I felt I was giving,” Hillary said about her experience as a Red Cross volunteer.
She works as Workforce Engagement Coordinator in Marin County, a position that allows her to mentor new volunteers and support the Disaster Cycle Services team. She is a dedicated Red Crosser, often eager to find ways to help her community by installing smoke alarms, helping with community events or even training county employees. “I feel connected,” she said.
“Being named Volunteer of the Year is humbling given the great people I get to work with throughout the year. We all give in the ways we can and everyone’s contributions together make the whole thing work. I count myself as lucky to be able to learn new things nearly constantly and find myself in workgroups with people with such varied backgrounds, skills, and knowledge. I’m challenged by the work and grateful for the many friendships I’ve developed over the years,” Hillary shared.
Santa Clara County – Silicon Valley Chapter
Mac is a valued member of the Disaster Cycle Services Team in Santa Clara County. He is passionate about helping others, and his teammates know they can always count on him. He was one of the first to sign up for shifts to support the Seven Trees Shelter in San Jose during the atmospheric river flooding in January 2023. He arrived in the first five days of the shelter opening and worked hard to meet residents’ needs.
Mac says that his motivations come in many and varied forms. “The first is to serve. I served in the military and in the Fire Service. The time I spent in both organizations have ingrained in me to help those that need help. I do not seek, nor do I require to be recognized. But it seems through my actions I get acknowledged. For that I am humbled. The time I’ve spent in local Red Cross missions and Disaster Response Operations provided me with several opportunities to help people in need. Being personable, with a constant smile welcoming them as they come through the door seeking shelter. Remembering their names so that they feel like they matter. Acknowledging that I am there not only to help them but also showing them that we care. It is the people that we serve that motivates me.”
When asked about his recognition as Volunteer of the Year, he said: “I am humbled that I was selected and for those that have selected me for this award I say thank you.”
One of Mac’s favorite quotes that he lives by is of Thomas Kinkade who said, “Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.”
We want to congratulate Michael McGar from Heart of the Valley Chapter and Merilee Guillory from North Bay Chapter for also receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award. Thanks for your dedication to the Red Cross mission.