When she renounced her South African homeland for U.S. nationality decades back, Louise Stamper vowed to become a model citizen.
On Wednesday, the 47-year-old Spokane wife and mother of three found out what a great example she’d turned out to be.
Stamper won the Volunteer of the Year Award at the Spokane County United Way annual luncheon, attended by about 300. She was among a half-dozen volunteers singled out for their service to others.
Stamper is a double amputee who uses an electric wheelchair, but it hasn’t slowed her down or diminished her desire to serve children in need.
“You’d think she’s a marathon runner,” an administrator at Holmes Elementary School said in a tribute video shown for the crowd.
Stamper devotes 40 hours a week to volunteer activities. During the course of her work, she’s served as a court-appointed special advocate for neglected and abused children. And after 13 years of helping out at Holmes, she took on the duties as volunteer coordinator of its Parent-Teacher Group.
Stamper is also president of COPS West and coordinates its McGruff safe house program, a network of homes open before or after school to children who may be locked out of their houses, injured or fear they’re being followed.
“It’s such an honor to be able to serve people,” she said at Wednesday’s United Way event, blinking back tears and clutching a single red rose. “To be recognized for that is very humbling. I hope I’ve made positive contributions to American society.”
United Way received 42 nominations in five categories. Here are the other winners, along with remarks from their nominators:
“Senior Award: Ruth Bramer, a court-appointed special advocate. Bramer represents the interests of children removed from their homes at judicial and social services proceedings, which may stretch out over 18 months.
“She’s gone as far as Wisconsin to make sure a child is in a safe and protective environment and has advocated for 17 children in the last six years.” Nominated by CASA.
“Business Award: KREM-2 for Tom’s Turkey Drive, which has delivered more than 36,000 turkeys and 350,000 pounds of fixings to the region’s hungry during the holidays. The pet project of TV weatherman Tom Sherry, the drive takes place during the most miserable weather conditions of the year.
“Who better to stand out in crummy weather than Tom himself” to collect donations, joked KXLY’s Robyn Nance, who shared master-of-ceremonies duties with her broadcast colleague Richard Brown. Nominated by Second Harvest Inland Northwest.
“Team Award: Hospice of Spokane’s volunteer clerical and office staff. The team of 25 volunteers provided behind-the-scenes support that saved Hospice $50,000 in labor last year. Hospice’s support comes at a time when people most need it, said a male volunteer. Nominated by Hospice of Spokane.
“Youth Award: Devon Clark, a senior at Ferris High School and veteran volunteer at Second Harvest, a network of more than 300 area food banks and meal centers. An A student, she’s president of her senior class, is a calculus tutor, belongs to the Junior Advisory Board for the Spokane County Fair and is secretary of the Girls’ State American Legion Auxiliary.
“What few know about Miss Clark is that she lives with connective tissue disorder that is moving into rheumatoid arthritis. Currently, she cannot hold a pencil or pen longer than 30 minutes. Every day, Devon shows she cares more about others than her pain.” Nominated by Second Harvest Inland Northwest.
“Individual Award: Alida King, who for more than a decade has dished up hot meals for homeless and at-risk teens at Crosswalk, a downtown emergency shelter for young people.
“She is always quick with a kind word to the kids … and has even been known to dance a jig for them. Alida … brings joy to those around her and is committed to improving lives of those in need.” Nominated by Volunteers of America.