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2016 Volunteer Awards Nominee Profiles
Rhonda-Thomas.jpg    Catherine-Tyler-King.jpg     VanAuker.jpg
Rhonda Thomas
Nominated by Cassandra Okwumabua 

Rhonda has made an impact on our community by encouraging youth to become their very best. In 2001, she founded LEAP Forward, an organization that works to expose youth to math and science careers.

The group provides educational financial assistance to economically disadvantaged youth through scholarships; promotes technical career options through seminars and industry tours; introduces college life through college tours; and assists with preparing documentation for post-secondary education or vocational training.

Rhonda also contributes to several other community outreach programs in an effort to promote career pathways in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. She wants youth to be awe-inspired by what they learn. Rhonda has been an advocate for county youth for nearly 20 years, and most recently her work earned a 2016 Leading Edge Award when LEAP Forward was named Southern Maryland Minority Chamber Business of the Year.

As Cassandra Okwumabua said in her nomination, “Rhonda Thomas is a quiet giant who walks amongst us in our community.”
  Catherine Tyler-King
Nominated by Billie Barnard, Lyra Sue Hersl, Paul Huie, Steven Oliver, Nancy Dodge Scully and Marjorie Williams

Catherine is the founder and president of the Hands of God Mobile Street Ministry, a faith-based ministry that channels food donated by area retailers to organizations serving the poor. She is known for her boundless energy in delivering food to seniors, assisting with utility bills, organizing bake sales and bringing hope and cheer to others.

Paul Huie said, “I can attest to the energy and devotion she brings to her service.” He added that he has never seen her when her minivan was not filled to the windows with food or other items she was going to give to somebody.

Other nominators said she is a very heartfelt human being, she always greets you with kindness and a smile and she is a beautiful person inside and out.
  Rev. Margaret Van Auker 
Nominated by Curt Hules

Van Auker works to improve the lives of indigent citizens in Calvert County. As president of the Community Ministry of Calvert County, she raised more than $100,000 and led an all-volunteer program that provided financial support for rent and utilities to more than 300 people over the past year.

As treasurer of Safe Nights of Calvert County, she was instrumental in obtaining United Way funding that helped the program provide shelter and meals for 35 homeless persons this past winter. In October, Van Auker stepped in to chair the Calvert County Homeless Services Board.

Her community service continues through a variety of organizations including the Tri-County Continuum of Care, SMILE Ecumenical Ministries, Calvert Family Advocates and the Family Access Center.

“She inspires fellow volunteers,” said Curt Hules in his nomination. “And her selfless service reflects great credit upon herself and Calvert County’s volunteer spirit.”

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