HALLOWELL — Molina Medicaid Solutions in Maine, based in Augusta, recently recognized three individuals for their community work at its first Community Champions Awards event in Maine. Awards were presented to Valerie Gamache, of Freeport, Brian Hamel, of Presque Isle, and Shirley G. Rocque, of Augusta. The ceremony, held at Cohen on the Meadows Community Center, also included entertainment provided by the Jesse Feinberg Quartet and a visit from Augusta Major William Stokes, according to a news release.

Gamache was recognized for her 16 years of volunteer work with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. As the president of the Bath-Brunswick chapter, she facilitates its support group and serves as vice president on the NAMI Maine board of directors. In addition, Gamache has taught 23 12-week family-to-family education courses for family members who have loved ones suffering from mental illnesses.

Hamel also received a Community Champions Award for his work as a volunteer coach for the Special Olympics Basketball Program in Aroostook. It was his first time working with people with disabilities, but he quickly helped elevate his team — the Snow Dogs — into the limelight with scrimmages with local high school teams, including the boys and state champion girls’ teams from Presque Isle High School as well as a team from Caribou. This even led the University of Maine at Presque Isle to host a daylong workshop and scrimmage for the team.

Lastly, Rocque was honored for her role as the Bread of Life Ministries Donation Center volunteer. She runs the organization’s warehouse full of household items and furniture. With her help, Bread of Life was able to process and distribute more than $500,000 worth of items in the past four years. A former foster parent, Rocque now takes calls at home instead from those in need of donations.

“We are honored to recognize Valerie, Brian and Shirley for their extraordinary work,” said Peter Gray, executive account manager for Molina Medicaid Solutions in Maine. “What they do for their communities is not only inspiring, but impacting in such a positive way. We applaud them for their tireless commitment to serve others,” according to the release.

Established to honor the memory of Dr. Molina, the Molina Healthcare Community Champions award program spotlights the good deeds of everyday heroes in their communities. Molina has been hosting the Community Champions Awards for six years in the states that it operates. At this first event in Maine, the winners were nominated by community-based organizations and also received $1,000 grants to give to deserving nonprofit organizations as part of their awards. Gamache gave her grant back NAMI, Maine; Hamel gave his to the Special Olympics Aroostook and Rocque donated hers to the Bread of Life Ministries.

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