Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, Jr. and the City of Hammond Planning and Development Committee honored its citizens and organizations that are helping make a difference in the community through giving back at the 29th Annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony today.
McDermott said these awards hold a special place in his heart, as every effort made, every minute volunteered in the City of Hammond, go a long way towards building a better community.
“Whatever you do, any volunteer hours you give, go to making our city that much more liveable and improve the quality of life for everyone,” McDermott said at the ceremony. “Honoring our volunteers is one of my favorite days of the year, and thank you all for helping the City of Hammond.”
Dee Jones of the Volunteer Award Committee and Family Involvement Facilitator at Irving Elementary School echoed that sentiment and thanked the volunteers for building a better future for Hammond through their involvement with the youth.
“Thank you, volunteers,” added Jones. “Thank you for what you do every day to help the youth of Hammond.”
Pastor Joe Miranda, who gave the Invocation at the ceremony, thanked the volunteers for being role models that the community could look up to and reminded attendees that progress is a process.
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progess; staying together is success,” said Miranda, citing Henry Ford’s famous quote. “A great shoutout to all those who have volunteered to help assist and encourage, and became a voice and inspiration to our community.”
Ten awards were given out throughout the ceremony, ranging from Outstanding Youth to Citizen of the Year. Citizen of the Year Award winner, Lisa Guzma, who founded Blue Skies Hospice, said it felt particularly satisfying to be honored for doing something she truly loves to do.
“I opened Blue Skies in 2003 when a friend of mine who needed hospice care could not receive it,” Guzma explained. “I originally was a Nurse Practicioner, so helping others has always been something I have been passionate about.”
Plus, there was an added bonus to the award, Guzma said.
“I got to hug the Mayor, which was really awesome.”
And while 10 specific individuals were honored today, the Mayor took the time at the end of the ceremony to remind people that we can all make a difference in our community in the coming week by getting out to the polls and honoring our right to vote.
“I am not going to tell you who to vote for, but I do want to remind every one to vote,” said McDermott. “Because that is volunteering also.”
Award Winners:Outstanding Adult Volunteer: Millie Mosca. Outstanding Adult Team: Roger Brock and Dawn Tomich. Outstanding Adult Organization: Prom Genie. Outstanding Youth Volunteer: Cayden Bell. Outstanding Youth Organization: Hammond High School JROTC Team. Advocate for Children: Eva Huerta. Outstanding Parent Involvement: Efrain Valdez Jr. Frank Van Til Lifetime Achievement Award: Nancy A. Machnikowski. Mayor’s Distinguished Service Award: First Baptist Church of Hammond. Citizen of the Year Award: Lisa Guzma.