Press Release: 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Awards

 

First Lady’s Rising Star Award — Micah Pinson

Micah Pinson is only twelve-years-old, but he has already performed several years of volunteer service. In 2011, at the age of seven, Micah decided that he wanted to give back to Dallas Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, the hospital that has helped him with a hand deformity. Micah conceived a community service project – a toy drive – that today stands as the largest single toy donation for the hospital. In total, more than 25,000 toys have been collected over the last six years, and 2016 was the best year ever with over 10,000 toys donated. Each year, Micah seeks ways to involve more community and business leaders in this project, and sees this not only as a way of giving back to the hospital that helped him so much, but also as a blessing in his life.

 

Partners in Education Award — Fort Bend Education Foundation

In 1992, Fort Bend County business and community leaders came together to form the Fort Bend Education Foundation (FBEF). FBEF’s mission is to “inspire and equip all students to pursue futures beyond what they can imagine.” Throughout its twenty-five year history, FBEF has provided support to the 75 campuses that house the more than 74,500 students and approximately 5,000 teachers in Fort Bend ISD. FBEF works collaboratively with the school district, and has given $32 million in grant funding to provide an exceptional learning experience, helping enhance educational outcomes by implementing programs that support teachers and equip students for a brighter future, while also utilizing the work of more than 800 volunteers.

 

Service to Veterans Award — Tony Smith

Retired Veteran Tony Smith has turned his service to country into a more-than-full-time, unpaid second career as a county-appointed Veterans Service Officer in Coryell County, which has one of Texas’ largest populations of disabled veterans. Two years ago, Tony found free office space and began reviewing a backlog of veteran’s cases where assistance had been requested but not acted upon, helping local veterans navigate the sometimes-challenging waters of the VA system. Tony serves as the commander of the local Disabled American Veterans Chapter 74, and is a trained small group facilitator through “Bring Everyone in the Zone”, where in less than two years he helped grow local peer-to-peer veteran groups from one poorly-attended group to four thriving groups. Tony has provided for the veterans in his area in other ways as well, including counseling and support for several successful suicide prevention engagements, securing a motorized scooter for a disabled elderly veteran so he can be mobile on his rural property, raising funds for the burial of a veteran who died with no family to pay for the expenses, and assisting veterans’ family members with finding cost-effective funeral services and volunteer pastors.

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