When local police take a 3 a.m. report on a rape, a volunteer from the Erie County Victim Assistance Program at the county prosecutor's office springs into action.
The program's volunteers are on call around the clock to provide compassion and support to rape victims, said Pam Colbert, director of the program.
The volunteers also carry out more mundane duties to supplement Colbert's four-person staff, including stuffing envelopes and manning tables.
Their efforts earned them Erie County's top award for volunteer organizations. Officials from Sandusky's The Volunteer Center presented the 15th annual Lavender Award for Excellence to the Victim Assistance Program at an awards breakfast Wednesday attended by about 75 people at American Legion Post 83.
Colbert said volunteers who helped the center earn the award are Ginny Fox, Tammy Schaefer, Ann Bauman, Eileen Hemminger, Trudy Riddle, Sandra Gorby, Lisa Price, Jamie Desautels and Sheryl Miller.
She said the three paid staffers who work for her, Eva Gorby, Alicia Leo and Sally Wild, also go above and beyond the call of duty.
The keynote speaker at the breakfast, Sandusky philanthropist George Mylander, described his friendship with Mary Ann Lavender, the founder of The Volunteer Center, calling her the "mother of volunteerism" in the area.
Mylander said that while there can be only one winner for the Lavender Award, all of the nominees deserve recognition.
"In my mind, and I'm sure in Mary Ann's mind, you are all winners," he said.
Firelands Regional Medical Center has 300 volunteers, the Ohio Veterans Home has 354 volunteers and the Firelands Chapter of the Red Cross has 950 volunteers, Mylander said.
Five local citizens received President's Award presentations. They'll all receive letters of congratulation from President George W. Bush.
The five are Joe Hayberger, president of the Volunteer Center and active in several other organizations; Judy Hippler, active with Firelands Habitat for Humanity; Joyce Laimbach, active on the board of the Merry Go Round Museum; Bob Rumford, a volunteer for many years with Cancer Services, and Janet Senne, a longtime volunteer at Grace Church Thrift Shoppe.
The Volunteer Center also recognized individual volunteers for donating hundreds of hours to the community.
Bronze level volunteers -- adults who had donated 100 to 249 hours during the year and young adults who donated 110 to 249 hours -- were Barb Agrawal, Aline Barr, Samantha Beverick, Elaine Blackmore, Ann Bors, Karen Brown, Pat Dahm, Linda Ewers, Peggy Fitzthum, Robert Heim, Rose Hoelzer, Liana Hoffman, Leona Holzmiller, Sandy Jordan, Sidney Jordan, Katie Leber, Darlene Meadows, Leo Meadows, Ellen Mittendorf, Art Ochs, Tim Parry, Jeanne Plater, Doris Quayle, Peggy Riedy, Susie Smith, Brenda Van Meter, Phoebe Van Zoest, Evalyn Vroman, Ann Marie Whyte and Jean Wittmer.
Silver level volunteers (individuals 250 to 499 hours in a year, groups 500 to 999 hours) were Barbara Beck, Sue Cloak, EHOVE DECA and Laura Rice.
Gold level volunteers (adults more than 500 hours a year, youths 100 hours or more) were Howard Beck, Jaz Bluhm, Elsie Calamese, Pam Dwight, Marie Kubac, Mary Helen Kay and Richard Mittendorf.
Louise Moos, a Care and Share volunteer, received the President's Call to Service award for volunteering more than 4,000 hours. County Commissioner Nancy McKeen, one of the award presenters, was called back to the podium and given a Gold level award for her own volunteer efforts.
2007 Lavender Award nominees
American Red Cross Firelands Chapter
Erie County Victim Assistance Program, Erie County Prosecutor's Office
Follies 2006 -- Sandusky Night Live, Merry-Go-Round Museum & American Red Cross
Safe Harbor Volunteers, Safe Harbor Domestic Violence Shelter
Women Build, Firelands Habitat for Humanity