DCF Honors Five With 20th Anniversary Heart Of Gold Awards

The Dearborn Community Foundation has named five local do-gooders as its 2018 Heart of Gold Award recipients.

DCF’s 2018 Heart of Gold Award honorees (from left to right) are: Kristen Strzynski, John Herbert,  Kevin Wang, Linda Maxwell, and Andrea Ewan. Photo provided.

(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - The Dearborn Community Foundation, Inc. (DCF) marked the 20th year of its “Heart of Gold Award” program by honoring five community volunteers today at a reception in Lawrenceburg.

The Heart of Gold Award recipients were recognized for touching the hearts of others through their volunteerism and other acts of kindness. “These honorees deserve this recognition for making a difference in our community in their own unique ways,” said Fred McCarter, Executive Director of the Dearborn Community Foundation. “They are role models for how all of us can have a positive impact on others.”

Each of the 2018 five Heart of Gold honorees, nominated by others in the community and then chosen as Heart of Gold Award recipients by a Foundation committee, are given the privilege to serve on the “Heart of Gold Grants Committee” to award a total of $2,500 in proactive grants to charitable organizations that serve Dearborn County residents.

RELATED: 20 Years Of Heart of Gold Award Winners

In recent years, Heart of Gold recipients have been recognized for helping senior citizens or disadvantaged persons, working to improve the quality of education, expanding recreational or cultural opportunities, working with children, protecting the environment, promoting public safety and other acts of kindness. This year’s honorees are Andrea Ewan, John Herbert, Linda Maxwell, Kristen Strzynski and Kevin Wang.

The 2018 Heart of Gold honorees bring the total to 104 for the number of volunteers honored in the 20 years of the program designed to recognize the community’s fine volunteers and promote philanthropy. “As many folks know, the Foundation is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year,” said McCarter. “We’ve celebrated community volunteers all of these years through the Heart of Gold Award because we know that these caring, thoughtful and giving individuals make our community great!”

 

Heart of Gold Honorees’ Stories

 

Andrea Ewan

Andrea Ewan is deeply involved in our community. She generously volunteers her time for so many worthwhile causes that she believes in. Whether it’s volunteering for the countless county fish fries or helping coordinate the serving and delivery of thousands of Thanksgiving meals for those less fortunate families in our community, she is helping others. Andrea has, for some time, been volunteering her time and boundless energy to make sure that those in need receive the help they need and deserve. She is always willing to help in any way to ensure the success of any fundraising event she is called upon to support as a volunteer. As contributors to the wellbeing of the community, we all feel a certain obligation to “pay it forward,” and Andrea has always payed it forward. For myself, the need to “give back” has always been a strong one and yet I am always amazed to see just how much farther I could take it when I see Andrea put her mind to a worthy cause. I am truly humbled by her dedication and sacrifice to those in need. For all these reasons and more, I am proud to nominate Andrea for the 2018 Heart of Gold Award. Nominated by Kevin Wang

 

John Herbert

The Pregnancy Care Center of Southeast Indiana is nominating John Herbert for the Heart of Gold Award. John came to us as a volunteer in 2016 as we looked to expand our office space. Together with a dedicated team of volunteers, John helped us renovate the suite next door to ours so that we could double our services and add new volunteers. After this project was complete, John began training to be a Man2Man coach, as Pregnancy Care Center embarked on a new mission to serve more men and fathers in our community. John has completed over 60 hours of training on how to best serve men in our community. He has become a leader on our Man2Man team. The Man2Man program is a three-part service offering free coaching and mentoring to men, fathers, and grandfathers. Our Man2Man team works with guys through our “Dadhood” program, a six-week study, and in one-on-one mentoring for those facing an unplanned pregnancy or other life hurdle. The Pregnancy Care Center recognizes the great need to support both mothers and fathers who are working hard to provide a health and safe environment for their children. John is in our office at least once a week, if not more, volunteering his time to listen to and empower male clients. John cares greatly about our clients and their children and significant others. He makes phone calls and sends text messages to let our male clients know how much they are valued.

John works hard with each family he meets, whether they are seeking services for pregnancy, STD testing, or emergency assistance. As an organization, we hope to lower rates of fatherlessness in our community. We know that children in father-absent homes will face many challenges. John leads our team of Man2Man coaches so that fathers know how important their role is and so that they will have the skills to be successful dads. John also lends a hand to keep our building clean and organized and he completes maintenance tasks without even a second thought. His selflessness, positive attitude, and work ethic make him extremely valuable both to our organization and to our community. John’s wife also volunteers for us and we are so grateful that this family has put our organization on their list of priorities. Thank you John for your many hours of dedication and service! Nominated by Jennie Chafin/Pregnancy Care Center of Southeast Indiana

 

Linda Maxwell

Rarely in our lives do we get the chance to meet someone who is the personification of altruistic goodness, a person who gives of herself because there is a need, not because of anything it provides her in return. Linda Maxwell is just that kind of person. Those who have had the honor to know her and benefit from her unselfishness are richer for it. You will most often find Linda in the gift shop of North Dearborn Village Apartments, a senior housing complex built by she and her husband John’s construction business. For 18 years, Linda has taken it upon herself to run the gift shop in a way that gives back to everyone living there. She purchases items to sell in the shop, makes sure volunteers are recruited to run it, and then turns the profits into much needed items for the residents at the Village. The items purchased range from a picnic table and other outdoor furniture to curtains and tablecloths. The funds raised have bought flowers for inside and outside of the Village, and even a shade tree. Whether a resident has a need, a doctor’s appointment, or even just wants to go shopping, Linda is there for them. One resident needed to drive to UC Hospital multiple times for cancer treatments, but his care wasn’t dependable. Linda took it upon herself to give him a vehicle so he could make the life-saving trips. She asked and expected nothing in return, she never does. She also spends quality time with the residents. Whether it’s a picnic or a holiday, Linda can be counted on to be there to take pictures, bring food, bring gifts, or even just clean up after the event. She is never asked to participate or donate, she just does what Linda always does – give unselfishly so that others may smile. Linda exemplifies positivity, kindness and generosity in everything she does. Truly, Linda already has a “heart of gold” that she continually uses to positively affect the lives of everyone around her. Nominated by Vickie Ulmer, Sally Beckley and Barbara Barry

 

Kristen Strzynski

 Kristen Strzynski is a quiet hero to a lot of local kids and their families. She and her husband, Adam, have been foster parents to over 58 kids and have adopted four of these children. Because of her experience as a foster parent, Kristen started Closet of Promises, a non-profit, all-volunteer organization. Closet of Promises serves foster, adoptive and relative placement families in Southeastern Indiana, including Dearborn, Ripley, Ohio, Switzerland, Jefferson and Decatur counties. Kristen’s goal is to help enrich the lives of families that are in some way impacted by Children’s Services. Affected families are able to utilize the Closet for needs such as clothing, hygiene needs, diapers, car seats, cribs, beds and more. By providing these children with clothing and supplies, she helps raise their self-confidence and hopefully allows them to feel good about themselves regardless of their circumstances. Kristen spends her time organizing and packing the hundreds of donations she receives so that families in need can receive the necessary items. As a parent, Kristen also encourages compassion and community service in her children. For example, they bake goodies as a family and then share them with local police, fire and EMS departments. She is also a past Board member of Hillforest Historical Foundation and helps support a scholarship that honors her parents (the David & Kay Chalk Education Scholarship) through South Dearborn Dollars for Scholars. Kristen is truly a Dearborn County citizen who has a “Heart of Gold!” Nominated by Debbie Busching

 

Kevin Wang

Rachel Reynolds wrote: While scrolling through Facebook two years ago, I came across a post by the Grand Buffet, Lawrenceburg, looking for volunteers to help feed those in need for Thanksgiving. After speaking on the phone with the owner, Kevin Wang, about his vision for the night, I decided to volunteer. Kevin had recently purchased the Grand Buffet (Also owns Wang’s Hot Chicken in Aurora) and he was looking for a way to give back to the community. In 2016, Kevin, his staff, and community volunteers, served more than 400 people with Thanksgiving meals by pick-up and delivery. In 2017, the number rose to more than 700 people served. In both 2016 and 2017, Kevin closed his restaurant and had his staff prepare the meals at his expense. His kindness has been a blessing not only to those who received a hot meal, but also to those who volunteered. Kevin’s Thanksgiving actions truly bring together the community, kids and adults. He plans to provide the Thanksgiving meals again this year. Kevin also volunteers at the Dearborn County Clearinghouse for Emergency Aid’s Coalition for Children’s Christmas Toys. I have enjoyed volunteering alongside Kevin, who serves as a volunteer Board member at the Clearinghouse. He actively works with others to plan and execute the Clearinghouse’s annual Hunger Awareness dinner, which is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Kevin has even held a carwash in the restaurant parking lot to raise funds for the Clearinghouse. Anyone who meets Kevin knows how much the spirit of community means to him. He takes pride in Dearborn County and supports many efforts. He is a husband, a father of three, owns many businesses, and still finds the time and energy to volunteer. He is an inspiration to many. I am honored to call him a friend. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Heart of Gold Award.

 

P.G. Gentrup wrote: Kevin is also great supporter of veterans in our community. Recently, at his opening of Wang’s Hot Chicken, he presented a very generous check to Afghanistan war hero Brett Bondurant and his family to show his appreciation for the many sacrifices Brett has made for our nation. Kevin also was a major contributor to the Callaway Scholarship Golf Tournament, which also benefits the Welcome Home Warriors Fund here in Southeastern Indiana, and the Marine Corps Folds of Honor. He is always looking for ways to help people. Kevin also helps with fundraising at Safe Passage and the James B. Wismann YES Home. Kevin is proud to be an American and firmly believes that it is our responsibility to take care of each other.

Nominated by Rachel Reynolds and P.G. Gentrup

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