Volunteers Honored at Golden Heart Awards

According to, an online charity forum, the value of a volunteer in Wisconsin is estimated to be $17.79 per hour. If you multiply that by the number of hours a volunteer “volunteers,” you begin to get an idea of the economic impact a volunteer has upon the agency he or she serves.

Once a year, the Volunteer Center of Door County shines a light on the importance of volunteerism with the Golden Heart Awards. It’s the Volunteer Center’s way of thanking some of our most generous volunteers for the countless hours they contribute to help our nonprofits do the vital work that they do.

The Golden Heart Volunteer Celebration is held each April and coincides with National Volunteer Week. It serves as a reminder that we are surrounded by heroes who step up every day to fill needs in our community.

Last year, 28 individuals and groups were nominated for the Golden Heart Awards in five categories – Youth, Adult, Lifetime of Service, Group and Arts & Culture. What these incredible people have done with their “free time” is inspiring.

Rachel Hale, last year’s Youth Award winner, gave 155 hours to the Family Center’s Christmas Store program by collecting donated items from local businesses. She then helped children pick out gifts and wrap them so that they would have gifts to give their families on Christmas.

Chuck Wagner and Don Ziegelbauer were recognized for their work in the successful opening of Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in the Group category. Recognizing the need for an outlet where used furniture, appliances and building materials could be recycled rather than sent to area landfills, Door County Habitat for Humanity was able to open this retail operation and provide support to its mission of building affordable housing.

Ann Birnschein, winner of the Arts & Culture Award, was honored with the Golden Heart for her involvement with Isadoora Theatre, volunteering in every position available since the organization began in 2002. She’s served as performer, director, designer, ticket seller, construction worker and marketing agent. There’s not a bit of Isadoora that hasn’t benefited from Birnschein’s touch.

Katherine Graf, winner in the Adult category, volunteers her time to help raise money for Door County charities, serves on boards throughout the county and is a guardian for several elderly and disabled people. Graf’s dedicated attention in mentoring an at-risk teen helped a young person in our community become a medical student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Marjory Allingham, Lifetime of Service Winner, has volunteered as a Sunday School teacher, organist, camp counselor, folk art painter, swim instructor, art museum volunteer, board member – the list goes on and on. Her influence as a 30-year Tae Kwon Do instructor has taught individuals the value of courtesy, integrity and perseverance.

These and other volunteers in the Door County community show us that it doesn’t take a fortune to make a difference in the lives of those who need a little help – it just takes some time and a caring heart.