GIVE Awards artwork

GIVE Awards

The GIVE Awards celebrate the exemplary service of Mississippi’s most dedicated citizens. This award program presented by Volunteer Mississippi, in partnership with the Governor’s Office, recognizes and honors the valuable contributions of some of Mississippi’s extraordinary citizens while inspiring others to follow their example.

Mississippi Volunteers

The story of volunteerism in Mississippi is about service as a way of life. It’s about leadership in our schools, workplaces, and communities. It’s about results. Statewide volunteers and national service members are getting things done and making a difference for our children, our seniors, our veterans, and military families.

Award Categories

First Lady’s Youth Volunteer Rising Star Award

This award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of Mississippians 18 years of age or younger serving and inspiring their community through service. These young volunteers demonstrate leadership, commitment to service, and the ability to inspire others of all ages to serve.

The Marsha Meeks Kelly Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteer Service

This award recognizes the outstanding service of an individual who has volunteered for a minimum of 15 years in Mississippi communities. Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award winners are those rare individuals who recognize a community need and engage in innovative and sustained volunteer service to achieve positive change.

Volunteer of the Year Award

This award recognizes extraordinary contributions of Mississippians 19 years of age or older serving and inspiring their community through service. The Volunteer of the Year shows exceptional leadership and dedication to addressing community challenges while inspiring others to serve.

Volunteer Family of the Year Award

This award recognizes outstanding families (two or more related individuals) that volunteer together to create meaningful impact in their communities. The Volunteer Family of the Year awardees are true champions of service and role models for family involvement in their communities.

Corporate Volunteering Champion Award

This award recognizes private sector corporations and small businesses for implementing employee volunteer programs that have demonstrable community impact and setting community service as a core value and business strategy.

Service-Learning Champion Award

This award recognizes institutions of learning, including K-12 public and charter schools, community colleges, and universities, that utilize service as a key component of their academic curriculum. Service-Learning Champions go above and beyond to develop the next generation of civic-minded, socially engaged Mississippians.

    Innovation in Volunteerism Award

    This award recognizes organizations that not only support or engage volunteers but also truly think outside the box to make volunteerism more accessible, more productive, and more available to their fellow Mississippians.

      Excellence in Disaster Volunteerism Award

      This award recognizes organizations, cities, and counties that do an exceptional job of utilizing volunteers to meet the needs of Mississippi communities during all phases of disaster – mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. Awardees exemplify communication, coordination, and collaboration and are a model for disaster volunteerism in Mississippi.

        National Service “Make a Difference” Award

        This award recognizes the exemplary achievements of an AmeriCorps member or AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer who is currently serving or has served in the last three years in the state of Mississippi. Awardees go above and beyond the scope of their service requirements and inspire others to serve while creating meaningful impact.

          Veteran “Hero in Service” Award

          This award recognizes an individual or group that has designed program(s) or services to meet the needs of military-connected families or individuals. The exemplary service will show respect for the unique challenges of military-connected families and individuals. The awardee demonstrates cross-sector engagement, including significant input from those served.

            Guidelines and Eligibility


            The GIVE Awards program abides by the following guidelines to maintain fairness and transparency.

            • Nominations must be submitted no later than Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023.
            • The volunteer service must have been performed in Mississippi, serving primarily Mississippians.
            • A significant amount of volunteer service must have been performed within the last 18 months (with the exception of nominations in the Marsha Meeks Kelly Award for Lifetime Achievement in Volunteer Service).
            • Nominators may submit multiple nominations.
            • Current Volunteer Mississippi staff and board members and their immediate families (spouse and dependent children) are ineligible to receive an award.
            • Nominations must be submitted through Volunteer Mississippi’s online nomination form.

            In partnership with the Governor’s Office, GIVE Awards will be presented at a special luncheon ceremony to be held Tuesday, April 18, 2023, kicking off celebrations for National Volunteer Week.

            If a nominee is selected for an award, the nominee will be required to submit a short biography and high-resolution photos, including one headshot and images depicting the nominee in service. Information from nominations may be released to the media and to elected officials.

            Past Award Recipients

            GIVE Award Recipients 2022

            Volunteer Mississippi and First Lady Elee Reeves honored the following 10 individuals and organizations for their outstanding volunteer service at the Governor’s Initiative for Volunteer Excellence (GIVE) Awards:

            Margaret Arnold, Columbus
            Shyra Galloway, Wiggins
            Michael Brownlee, Oxford
            James Davis, Jackson
            Lakenya B. Evans, Cleveland
            Emily Fitzhugh, Biloxi
            Stewart McMillan, Tupelo
            Tammy Pierce, Byhalia
            Mississippi Coats 4 Kidz Volunteers, Batesville
            Gerald “Jerry” Schmuck, Gulfport

            Honorable mentions were given to the following individuals and organizations:
            Jacob Barrett Aldridge, Jackson
            Ronald Clayton, Hernando
            Delta Cotton Belles, Greenville
            Akeah Ronay Graham, Starkville
            Janie Harrison, Vicksburg
            Jourdan Hartshorn, Gulfport
            Brian Little, Crystal Springs
            Joyce Ricks, Meridian