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Posted: 07/02/14



INVALUABLE HOURS. Above, from left, Elizabeth Miller and Jean Viviano of Romeo were recognized for their volunteer service to the Romeo District Library. At right, District 7 County Commissioner Don Brown with Jean Persely of Armada Township during a volunteer recognition ceremony held June 19.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray, photo courtesy of Macomb Food Collaborative)

County recognizes local RDL, MSU volunteers

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Three local residents were among those honored for their exceptional volunteerism by the Macomb County Board of Commissioners on June 19.
       The board honored 70 volunteers during its 25th annual recognition of volunteers that contribute to bettering Macomb County, including two Romeo residents and an Armada Township resident.
       Each of the 13 county districts represented by a commissioner had at least one representative recognized for their efforts. All volunteers were nominated for donating more than 150 hours of their time in 2013. District 7 Commissioner Don Brown said it was refreshing to see so many people who are willing to put in the effort and talent to better their communities.
       "I was very happy to give them some small token of recognition from the county for their efforts," Brown said. "Without volunteers, government can't do it all, nor should it, and they fill the gaps in many areas in our community."
       This year awarded two local volunteers from the same organization. Elizabeth Miller and Jean Viviano of Romeo were recognized for volunteering with the Romeo District Library (RDL).
       Miller, who has served on the Library Board since 2008, volunteered 150-plus hours in 2013. She said it was a sweet gesture to be nominated and honored, but she didn't expect it.
       "You don't volunteer for the recognition; you do it because you're passionate about what you're volunteering for," she said.
       The Library Board president said she has been involved with the libraries since she was young, and likes that the library offers services for anyone regardless of their status or financial standing.
       "The institution of a library is so valuable in a community because it offers so much," she said.
       Viviano is the president of the Friends of the RDL. She said she has been involved with the library for 20 years, and donated 400 hours in 2013. She said she was surprised to be nominated and honored.
       "I never expected this," she said. "I do it because I love it."
       The Friends of the RDL is a non-profit group that works to promote the library and raise funds to purchase items that are needed or wanted by patrons. Most recently, the group purchased an AWE Early Literacy computer station for the Kezar Library.
       She said she has always sought out libraries wherever she goes, and was motivated to volunteer with RDL because her daughter used the library all the time.
       The third local volunteer was Jean Persley of Armada Township, who volunteers with Michigan State University (MSU) Extension. In 2013, she donated 560-plus hours. She began her involvement with MSU Extension in 2004 after moving from North Carolina, enrolling to eventually become a master gardener.
       Persley is also involved with the MSU Extension's community food system program, which has branched off as its own non-profit called the Macomb Food Collaboration.
       "I guess that I like the MSU philosophy of reaching out to people and connecting and interacting with people," she said. "The gardening aspect is something I've always done, and it grew from there and blossomed into food collaboration."
       MSU Extension offers seminars, workshops and other resources to residents in various counties. Specifically, the master gardener program is a horticulture education program fueled by volunteers who are trained and earn the title after completing 40 hours of community service.
       Like the other volunteers, she said she doesn't do the work for a pat on the back. Instead, she does it because she enjoys it and is passionate about what she does.
       "I was very honored and humbled that they would put me in such a wonderful group of people that are being recognized by the county," she said. "You do it because it's who you are."
      


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