Nominations sought for United Way volunteer awards

ST. JOSEPH — United Way of Southwest Michigan is seeking nominations for its annual Volunteer Recognition Event.

The event celebrates the outstanding volunteers in Berrien and Cass counties.

The October event will be highlighted by the presentation of the lifetime achievement award, the Margaret B. Upton Volunteer Leadership Award. The honor is given to one volunteer in Berrien County who demonstrates a longstanding history of volunteerism of more than 10 years, and a diverse volunteer background with multiple organizations or a significant contribution to a single organization, and teamwork and leadership experience through various levels including physical, clerical and/or service at the board level.

The winner will get $3,500 to donate to the nonprofit organization of their choice. The deadline to submit nominations is Aug. 16.

“Last year, we had 2,242 volunteers serve 17,776 hours, and that’s a value of $438,120 in service hours,” said Julee Laurent, senior manager of United Way of Southwest Michigan’s Volunteer United. “Volunteers are crucial to improving our community in Southwest Michigan, and our Volunteer Recognition Event gives us a chance to celebrate some of the extraordinary work they’re doing to lift us all up.”

Additional awards include the Sustaining and Emerging Volunteer Awards to recognize volunteers from Berrien or Cass County who show a commitment to United Way’s goals in the areas of education, income, health or basic needs. These volunteers have elevated an organization to new levels.

The Emerging Volunteer winner will have the opportunity to direct $300 to the nonprofit organization of their choice, while the Sustaining Volunteer will get to direct $500.

To submit nominations or to apply, visit For more information not found on the website, contact Laurent at