State’s best: Clark wins Governor’s Service Award

MARQUETTE – Negaunee resident Yvonne Clark was honored by Gov. Rick Snyder Tuesday night as Michigan’s Senior Volunteer of the Year.

Snyder presented his Governor’s Service Award to Clark at a ceremony titled “Evening with the Stars” at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.

“We recently launched the Do Something, Michigan! initiative that encouraged Michiganders to volunteer and take action in their communities,” Snyder said in a news release. “The 40 finalists we celebrated at the 2013 Governor’s Service Awards are an extraordinary example of that Do Something! spirit. I thank them and all the state’s volunteers for their contribution to our state.”

The Governor’s Service Awards are an annual event coordinated by the Michigan Community Service Commission, the state’s lead agency on volunteerism.

From more than 140 nominations submitted by friends, relatives, and colleagues to pay tribute to individuals, organizations, and businesses who exemplify the spirit of volunteer service, this year’s honorees were selected.

To choose the winners, an objective peer review panel and the board of the Michigan Community Service Commission selected finalists and then the winners, with final approval of the selections from Snyder.

In total, five finalists from eight different categories were honored at the 2013 Governor’s Service Awards to acknowledge their commitment to solving community issues through volunteerism.

During Tuesday night’s event, one winner from each category was selected.

Clark’s award honors “a senior citizen who has taken action to make her or his community a better place to live.”

That certainly describes Clark, who began volunteering for RSVP in 1994 and has logged more than 9,000 hours.

“Yvonne has given so much of her time and energy to helping people, especially seniors, for nearly 20 years,” said Amy Mattson, director of the Retired and Senior Volunteers Program in Marquette County. “And I think the best thing about Yvonne is that she doesn’t do these things for personal recognition – she is only interested in helping bring attention to the projects that are near and dear to her heart. She is one of RSVP’s best cheerleaders and we are so proud of her.”

In addition to her contributions to the RSVP program, Clark, 78, is a dedicated volunteer for other community initiatives including the senior-based crime prevention program TRIAD, for which Clark helps to organize the annual “National Night Out” events; the Alzheimer and Autism wanderer recovery program, Marquette County Life Tracker, through which she has helped save three lives; and the Marquette County Community Emergency Response Team, where Clark trains in emergency rescue and survival skills to assist in times of need.

Clark is also a lifelong volunteer for the American Red Cross and currently serves on its Disaster Assistance Team helping fire victims find shelter, food, clothing, and more.

Also, she has been involved with Marquette Exchange Club.

In a feature story in The Mining Journal in late 2012, Clark explained her community involvement.

“Wherever they need help, if I can help, I’m there,” Clark said.

In the story, she encouraged others to get involved.

“You get so much for yourself when you give back to others,” she said. “RSVP has something for everyone. You can work with kids, you can work with young adults, you can work with other seniors. You help yourself by helping others.”

Clark was born in Ishpeming but moved to Marquette when she was 1. She’s a graduate of Graveraet High School.

In addition to a long-held job with the phone company, Clark owned several businesses through the years. She also has an active family life with five children, six stepchildren, 19 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.