The 28th Annual Fairfax County Volunteer Service Awards wrapped up at the end of July with the Volunteer Fairfax staff delivering actual award plaques to the winners, either to their homes or for them to pick up at a centralized location.  Apart from some awards being delivered, the 2020 Volunteer Service Awards were conducted virtually.  This virtual platform and celebratory Kudoboards allowed Volunteer Fairfax to amplify its reach beyond nominees and winners and to engage the community in a heartfelt tribute to volunteering. To see a round up of the 2020 Volunteer Service Awards, click here.

Volunteer Fairfax utilized Zoom calls to announce the winners in each of the twelve Competitive Categories to create the excitement and surprise of a real winner reveal.  These calls gave us the time and space to speak with volunteers on how they got started, what drove them to stay committed to volunteering and how they were pivoting in the current COVID landscape as they continue to support the organizations and causes they care about.  Using Kudoboards, a personalized digital group greeting card, the community at large was able to post messages of congratulations and pictures of the volunteer winners in action.  One of the more significant benefits of the pivot to a virtual event was the extended bandwidth of the celebration and recognition of accomplishments across the community to many who would have not been able to attend an in-person event.

Capital Caring Health, the largest non-profit provider of advanced illness care, won in two competitive award categories – Volunteer Program and Adult Volunteer serving under 250 hours.  Hospital Corpsman Second Class (HM2) Sabre Poimboeuf, Adult Volunteer winner, supports Capital Caring Health’s Military Thanks Program. Through the many hours she has volunteered with the program, Sabre has enhanced the program by including an official flag folding, presenting veterans with challenge coins and reading the poem, “The Watch” to all navy veterans. To receive her award, HM2 Sabre Poimboeuf walked the red carpet as she was presented her plaque from Katherine Knoble, who serves as Capital Caring Health’s Manager of Community and Volunteer Engagement. Capital Caring Health engages over 1,400 volunteers in an incredible range of programs that directly support their mission of caring for critically ill patients and their families.

Katherine Knoble is a big fan of the way VF presented the awards this year.  “The virtual platform provided the community with the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of amazing volunteers while also learning about services being provided throughout the county. Reading each Kudoboard was uplifting and educational, there are so many incredible services provided.  Volunteer Fairfax has a way of sprinkling magic dust on anything they touch, this was a perfect example,” said Knoble.

Noble also shared that Capital Caring Health volunteer programs have needed to pivot due to social distancing requirements but notes that there have been unexpected bright spots.  For example, a new Pen Pal program allows volunteers are not able to visit patients at the care facilities, write letters, and send pictures to stay in touch with their patients.  writing letters and sending pictures instead.  Through the Flower Delivery program, Capital Caring Health volunteers deliver fresh flowers, donated by Trader Joes, to the doorsteps of patient’s homes.  “This level of care is so personal and special for patients and it has really touched our patients and volunteers alike,” notes Katherine Knoble.

The 2020 Annual Fairfax County Volunteer Awards provided us a window into the work that volunteers have done and are continuing to do despite the challenges that COVID has presented.  As we close out this year’s unique Volunteer Service Awards, we are grateful to our sponsors, partners, and volunteers.  We are inspired by the effort, enthusiasm, and creativity we see to continue to serve the people and community.  Congratulations to all of this year’s winners.