Volunteer Maine, the state service commission, based in Augusta, has announced the recipients of its Champion of Service awards and the first-ever Outstanding Maine AmeriCorps Alumni awards, presented by Machias Savings Bank. Recipients were honored during Volunteer Maine’s AmeriCorps in Maine 25th anniversary celebration and reunion held Oct. 11 at the Waterville Opera House, according to a news release from the organization.

Champion of Service recipients include Arthur “Art” Thompson, of Limestone; Anne B. Schink, of South Portland; and Cabot Creamery Cooperative.

Outstanding Maine AmeriCorps Alumni recipients include Chris Myers Asch, who served for Teach for America and is the founder of Capital Area New Mainers Project; and Sara Knowles, director, Maine Conservation Corps.

According to the release, the Champion of Service award is presented by the organization each October. It recognizes an individual who has served in the public sector (local, county, regional or state).

The recipient is someone who consistently advocates for citizen involvement in addressing community issues and shown an understanding of what supports citizen volunteers need to be effective. The person has demonstrated an understanding (intuitively or explicitly) that towns and cities that are thriving are places where residents actively serve to make a difference in civic life and foster the local quality of life.

In recognition of 25 years of AmeriCorps service in Maine, the Outstanding Maine AmeriCorps Alumni award was established to recognize and celebrate alumni who continue to serve Maine in the same spirit of AmeriCorps in their day-to-day life. To be eligible, nominees must have served in AmeriCorps between 1994-2019; have been a resident of Maine for at least one year post-service (may have served in Maine or another state); and have continued to live the AmeriCorps pledge, beyond their service term.

Whether in his leadership on Rotary, the town Library’s capital campaign board, his church, or the local school and the Maine School of Science and Mathematics, Thompson seems to always be able to get people involved. He fosters and inspires community service wherever he goes and among those who know him.

He has dedicated a significant portion of his life to promoting and serving Aroostook County and Limestone. He was instrumental in volunteering and serving his time to help successfully transition his community and county from the impact of the Loring Airforce Base closure in 1994. Through his leadership in the 90’s he helped bring businesses and companies to the new Loring Commerce Centre and did the fundamental research of other magnet schools to establish the second best high school in the country, the MSSM.

Schink has devoted 42 years to agencies and organizations essential to thriving communities. Her connection to National Service, AmeriCorps and Volunteer Maine go back 25 years. However, a personal ethic of service is evident throughout her life.

Her service journey with AmeriCorps and State Service Commissions began in 1994 when the Corporation for National and Community Service hired her to be a training consultant in New England and the Atlantic states. In 1996 she joined the staff of the commission as the program officer and spent thirteen years promoting service and helping AmeriCorps grantees operate strong, effective programs. She is responsible for creating a number of resources and events that are still central to Commission operations.

Cabot Creamery Cooperative created the Department of Gratitude to reflect the values of the farm families who own Cabot Creamery Cooperative.

Among the programs under the Department of Gratitude is Reward Volunteers. Reward Volunteers is a free and easy way for individuals to track the time spent volunteering in the community, and to earn chances to win rewards — both for themselves and the organizations they serve. As of March 2019, over 630,000 hours were logged by more than12,000 selfless volunteers, to the benefit of nearly 5,000 organizations.

Cabot also promotes literacy by providing free plays, books and other programs to schools and groups. Under the banner of its “Art of Healthy Aging,” Cabot advocates for a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, volunteering, healthy meals, and snacks along with a generous spirit.

Asch, a native of Washington, D.C., won the 2007 Eli Segal Award from the national AmeriCorps Alums group. He taught elementary and middle school for three years in Sunflower, Mississippi, as part of Teach for America/AmeriCorps and one year in Taejon, South Korea, with the William J. Fulbright program. He co-founded the Sunflower County Freedom Project in 1998 and launched the U.S. Public Service Academy initiative in 2006.

He now teaches history part-time at Colby College and runs the Capital Area New Mainers Project, an organization he co-founded in 2017 to welcome refugees and immigrants to central Maine.

Knowles hails from Illinois, she graduated college with a passion for working with people, and was in search of a clear direction. In 2006, she overloaded her car and drove 22 hours straight to Maine to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Maine Conservation Corps. While volunteering with MCC, she found her path, capabilities, and fell in love with everything Maine offers, especially its sense of service and environment. Her service journey began and continues with MCC where she is honored to be the director of the organization, and facilitate similar experiences for those that accept.