Meet the 2024 Individual Award recipients!

The May 5, 2024 Celebration of Service honored four categories of amazing volunteers. One category recognized outstanding individual people and programs. It is a pleasure to introduce them here.

a black-capped chickadee on a branch with the agency name, chickadeeds, next to it



The Chickadeeds, Scarborough  
2024 Outstanding Nonprofit Volunteer Program Award

“Recognizes a non-profit organization (501(c)3), municipality, or government program that has made significant changes and improvements in the condition of the community as a result of their volunteer service.”

three women standing in front of stage

The Chickadeeds is a non-profit organization, founded by Jennie Coyne and Lauren Glennon, focused on southern Maine. It seeks to empower volunteers of all ages to become agents of positive change by designing family-friendly volunteer events that connect people with causes. 

In practice, this means the organization partners with a different local nonprofit and, after consulting with the agency about its greatest need, organizes a free service event that youth and adults can carry out. The Chickadeeds emphasizes including young people because they believe that having youth participate in values-based work empowers them to be agents of change.

In 2023, Chickadeeds mobilized over 2,600 volunteers in service projects that ranged from clearing invasive species to assembling 700 winter warmth kits and prepping 8600 food items for meals at a shelter. The projects completed in 2023 reached more than 5,000 people in the Greater Portland region.

While their approach successfully engages community residents as volunteers, it also expands the recipient organization’s vision of what volunteers can do.


two hands reaching toward each other horizontally, one with a heart on its palm, and words Hope Acts above and below the hands
Hope House English Language Program, Portland
2024 Outstanding Volunteer Team

“Recognizes a team (family, employee, friends) of volunteers who have committed signifi cant time and effort to improving the life of individuals or the community through volunteer service.”

eight people in front of stage posing with award which is glass clockFor seven years, Hope Acts has relied on a volunteer team to teach English to speakers of other languages.

Each teacher spends 1,720 hours a year on the volunteer work and is responsible for developing his or her lesson plans and teaching a two-hour class at least once a week. The team members also facilitate field trips in the greater Portland area so students can interact with residents whose first language is English.

Team members are Dorothy Cook, Sarah Gauvin, John Messer, Juliet Karelsen, Theresa McCarthy, Susan Gilpin, Naomi Menikoff, Joanne Mannell, Sally Connolly, Karen Knox, and Magdelene Mbong Mai.

Marc Boissonneault, Saco
National Service Volunteer of the Year

“Recognizes an individual in Maine AmeriCorps or AmeriCorps Seniors who has completed at least one year of service and demonstrated outstanding commitment by exceeding the requirements of their normal service assignment.”

Marc standing next to Brigadier General Dunn and he is holding his awardMarc Boissonneault volunteers with RSVP at the Southern Maine Agency on Aging. The program is one of the AmeriCorps Seniors programs and the only one without a minimum time commitment and stipend.

Marc devotes an average of 300 hours each year to multiple assignments. These include Activity Aide in the Adult Day Program, Tour Leader for the center, music program leader, volunteer trainer, and SMAA Volunteer Ambassador. 

Marc's combination of storytelling, occasional music, and willingness to share personal experiences make it possible for others to find some hope in very difficult times. His ease with new people and ability to articulate the role of the program has resulted in new volunteers, new program participants, and stronger corporate partnerships.

Merritt Holman, South Portland
Young Maine Volunteer of the Year

"Recognizes a person 20 years old or younger who, through volunteer service, has demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the life of individuals or the community and, by example, shows the meaning of “active citizenship.”

young woman holding her award in front of a stageThree years ago, Merritt Holman started volunteering at Maddy’s Theatre, a program in the Children’s Museum and Theatre of Maine. She spent nearly 200 hours each year and quickly moved from working backstage with 132 elementary and middle schoolers to assistant stage manager to helping teach theater classes for children ages 5 to 7.

Merritt does as well with adults and as she does with children. In one example, she stepped fully into training a new adult team on backstage elements when key actors and staff fell ill right before a production.

Outside of stage productions, Merritt volunteers for special events, after school programs, and helped the theater volunteer program expand. All this is done at the same time she is successfully manages her school assignments and a part-time job

Jennifer Fortin, Augusta
Volunteer of the Year

"Recognizes an individual who has committed significant time and effort to improving the life of individuals or the community through volunteer service. Over the years, this person consistently stepped up and pitched in whenever help was needed."

Fortin standing with her award between Maine Volunteer Foundation president, John Portela, and General Dunn.Jennifer has been an active volunteer for 12 years but lately ramped up her effort. In 2023, she logged over 1,200 hours of service through several community programs including the Sexual Assault and Crisis and Support Center, Sisters in Arms Center, Rotary Club of Augusta, and the Windsor Fair.

As a survivor of sexual assault, Jennifer has turned this personal tragedy into a passion to advocate for those who have been abused. She 3has served as a volunteer advocate at the Sexual Assault and Crisis and Support Center for the past two years, contributing 814 hours in 2023. The agency’s president said “Jennifer has trained as a hospital and hotline support advocate. We could not run the Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center with our small budget if it were not for volunteers like Jennifer. [She] is one of a dwindling number willing to volunteer their time taking heart wrenching phone calls and responding to hospitals 24 hours a day/7 days a week." Jennifer also volunteers for Sisters in Arms Center which is dedicated to providing housing and help
for women survivors of military sexual trauma.

Jennifer also is vice-president of a service sorority, Delta Omega Delta. She has planned monthly projects to help the Warming Shelter, Linus Project, the Augusta Teen Center, the Food Bank, the Children’s Center, and Senior Spectrum. She does all this while working full-time as a State of Maine employee.

tree street youth logo, stylized letters and bright colors

Tree Street Youth, Lewiston
Caring Action Award

A unique award was created this year to recognize an organization whose service in the aftermath of tragedy engaged community members of all ages in actions that fostered connections, caring, and healing in ways that empowered residents to reclaim their identities and community.

Young people representing all the Tree Street Youth stand with Exec Director Julia Sleeper-Whiting in front of event banner with award.Tree Street Youth is a Lewiston-based community of youth and adults who use their diverse lived experiences and collective empowerment to co-create youth-centered programs and partnerships. When the Lewiston community’s normal rhythm was shattered on October 25, 2023, Tree Street Youth marshalled over 300 youth, engaged them in planning and carrying out events that showed youth they could have significant impact on helping the community cope.

During the mandatory lockdown following the shooting in Lewiston, Tree Street Youth provided access to resources and support for this school-aged children, which includes many refugee and asylum seeking children who may have fled war and violence in their country of origin.

On October 26, Tree Street Youth used their social media platforms to share messages of comfort to their members with posts such as, “Here are 10 thing you can do RIGHT NOW from your home to support yourself, your kids, and our community.” On October 27, the agency hosted drop-in hours for middle and high school students who wanted to be in-community during that complex time.

Tree Street Youth organized Love Lewiston Day in partnership with Lewiston officials. It was conceived as “a day where people can spend intentional time doing something in honor of the victims and their families by sowing love in whatever way they see fit to those around them or by participating in some more organized responses by community partners.” Love Lewiston Day took place November 3, 2023, and the logo for the day was developed by one of the agency’s Next STEP teachers.