2016 Award Winners

Traci Brown

portrait of traci brown
This nominee’s contribution and service to the community is unparalleled. She constantly strives to make other people’s lives better, frequently making personal sacrifices to do so. Her unrelenting pursuit of social justice is contagious, and people instinctively follow her lead in improving the lives of those who are less fortunate. In everything she does, she demonstrates unwavering love and compassion to everyone. Her positive attitude, dedication and commitment serve as a catalyst to innovative ideas. Although she spends countless hours volunteering every week, she doesn’t just sit back and wait for volunteer opportunities to arise. Instead, she actively searches for unique opportunities to help others and finds creative ways to improve their lives. 

In the past year, this nominee alone has spent over 550 hours in community service work through a variety of volunteer positions at Veterans Coming Home Center, Bill's Place, Rare Breed, 99 Balloons ("rEcess"), The Venues Church, WIN (Women In Need), Venuespalooza, The Gathering Tree.

Gordon Maracle

portrait of gordon maracle
This nominee is currently the President of the Springfield Police Chaplains Association which is a small all volunteer group comprised of clergy members from the area.  Like his last name, he is able to work miracles on a daily basis.  It’s difficult to list all the things he has done for the community in just 500 words.  Each year he, almost single handily, organizes a luncheon for 400 plus law enforcement members each year.  He also heads the annual Peace Officers memorial Service which honors the men and women in law enforcement that have lost their lives in the line of duty.  

While his dedication to members of law enforcement is admirable, his love and caring for the citizens of Springfield is where he shines.  He has volunteered to be on call for the past 15 years ready to serve his fellow man.  He is routinely called out, many times in the middle of the night, to assist a person or family in need.  Wether it is comforting a family who just lost a loved one or finding a place for a young mother to sleep for the night, He has always been ready to help in any way he can. Often times he will remain with the person or family in need hours after first responders have left.

He also volunteers with a number of other organizations including the NRA where he is a training counselor, archery instructor and a judge / score keeper for the Missouri High School Trap shooters competitions.  He is presently serving on the committee for, “Branson salutes Law Enforcement”, held in June and a Chaplin for the Emergency Operations Center in Springfield.  He has volunteered for the Boy Scouts of America and has been a guest speaker at the U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners during Native American History Month.

He has given 15 years of volunteer service to the citizens of Springfield and surrounding area with the Springfield Police Chaplains alone. By all accounts he has donated well over 11,700 hours of time over the past 15 years.  He somehow juggles all this and is the primary care giver for his adult son who has special needs.

Marti Mowery

portrait of marti mowery
Her service to the community in her time as a volunteer has been far-reaching. She has worked to promote neighborhood cohesion in one of Springfield’s most impoverished neighborhoods. In the recent past, she has hosted neighborhood events that build bonds between neighbors. These events are comprehensive and draw the neighborhood together using tenets of social interaction and civic responsibility. She hosts an annual Christmas event that serves cookies and cocoa, provides an opportunity for kids to visit with Santa, and provides craft and gift making stations. She has organized and staffed with volunteers and donors an annual “Neighborhood Night Out” safety event that brings together, on average, 500 people for an evening of interaction with neighbors and city safety organizations including the Springfield Police and Fire Departments, the Red Cross, and other community organizations. 

She has organized, planned, and hosted many events at the local park, one of the neighborhood’s prized resources. These events include disc golf leagues, concert series, children’s opportunities such as music learning, park cleanups, and sports playdays in conjunction with the Springfield-Greene County Parks department to provide opportunities for the neighborhood children that they would otherwise not have due to transportation and enrollment costs.

In addition to events, she has created and invigorated neighborhood initiatives and groups that have a long-lasting impact in the neighborhood. She created, in cooperation with Springfield Victory Mission, and now oversees, a twelve family “food and family” cooperative that is able to purchase quantities of food at nominal prices, which helps these families have a food situation which is less precarious, as well as creating a social support network and true friendship among these families. Her guidance of the neighborhood association has built their strength, and she has been able to interact and work with city agencies, state representatives, city council, nonprofit agencies, and many others to bring awareness of, and solutions to, neighborhood issues such as infrastructure improvements, food insecurity, community development, housing stock issues, and neighborhood cohesion. Her efforts are among the most substantial ones for this neighborhood and the improvement of quality of life for its citizens.

Hank Harvey

portrait of hank harvey
After retiring from a career in business, our nominee has become a dedicated volunteer. He previously served as a Reading Buddy and a CASA volunteer. 

He now mentors others and provides an all-important role model for Ozark Technical Community College--Adult Education and Literacy students who may not have had a positive, male role model in their lives. He helps struggling students learn how to learn through study and thoughtful consideration and application to their daily lives.

His initial interest was to help adults learn to read, but the program needed someone who could help with math.

He volunteered twice a week for two years and continually worked to improve his own mastery of the subject.  He showed students how to follow directions and study examples so that they could understand and apply mathematical concepts. For struggling learners, learning how to learn is key.

He gave the students the individual attention that made the difference between passing and not passing the high school equivalency test. Several students who had just been released from incarceration as well as many others completed their high school credential because of his commitment to them. These are lives that were changed; they were persons who became able to enter the work force and increase their earning power. 

When he transitioned to a reading classroom, he instantly became an invaluable member of a team of volunteers who assists in a classroom comprised of mostly unemployed, lower-level learners who struggle with life as well as academic subjects. Two students from this classroom have now completed the high school equivalency; one has gone to MSU; another will attend OTC in the fall.  Two others who had graduated from high school will attend OTC as credit-seeking students.  All of the students have improved their reading levels, and primarily because of our volunteer, they participated in a mock-caucus and are now registered to vote. Again, these are lives that have been changed because of our nominee. 

He continues to help in another math class; so he has contributed almost 200 hours this year to AEL alone.   

Brian and Rachelle Huett

portrait of brian and rachelle huett
This father-daughter duo consistently “knocks it out of the park” as volunteer coaches, managers, pitchers and player buddies at the Betty & Bobby Alison Miracle League Ball Field, coordinated by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.

The Miracle League gives youth and adults with disabilities the opportunity to play ball. Games take place on a fully accessible 1/3-size ball field with a special cushioned surface, allowing players with walkers, wheelchairs or gait issues to move about without fear of injury. Each player is paired with a volunteer buddy, who may help them hit, catch, run the bases and have a great time. These two volunteers got involved in the Miracle League in 2014, after reading an news article highlighting a need for buddies. The have hardly missed a games since, quickly progressing from buddies to coaches, and are now an indispensible element of the league.

Miracle League games take place twice a week for a seven-week season each spring and fall. There are two back-to-back games a night, with youth on Mondays and adults on Thursdays. Our nominees are there for the full duration of every game, coaching a team of 20-25 youth players on Monday, then staying to serve as buddies for the second game. They return to the field Thursdays, serving as buddies for both adult games. No matter the situation or the weather, these two volunteers always are there to help with great enthusiasm.

Twice a week is a big commitment, and many Miracle League volunteers cannot commit to the whole season. These nominees’ ongoing presence gives players a sense of stability and continuity — a cornerstone goal for Miracle League.