John Kemp, executive director of South St. Paul-based Neighbors Inc., was named the first-ever recipient of the Excellence in Executive Leadership Award sponsored by the Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administrators (MAVA).
The Executive Leadership Award was established to reinforce the importance of strong executive leadership in volunteer programs. The award “honors an Executive Leader who demonstrates a cooperative, supportive, enthusiastic, and well-defined relationship with the volunteer program.”
Kemp was presented with the award at the annual MAVA meeting on Nov. 8. The selection committee cited his pioneering development of Neighbors’ volunteer program as justification for their decision.
"Being presented with this award by the members of MAVA is both flattering and humbling," Kemp told Patch.
"I think what it means above all is that we at Neighbors have, for four decades, been able to grow and maintain a culture and an environment in which people enjoy volunteering their time to help others in their community. They come because they get a sense of reward that perhaps only can come from meaningful volunteer activity and they keep coming back because they know they are valued and appreciated. That is something to rejoice in. This really is an award for the organization, not for me."
Since its inception six years ago, the Neighbors volunteer program has grown from 250 volunteers to more than 1,000 volunteers who have contributed nearly 30,000 hours of service. Volunteers work throughout the agency, staffing the food shelf and clothes closet, providing transportation, outreach, tele-care, assistance with administrative activities and more.
"Neighbors Inc. which serves residents of northern Dakota County, could not operate without the network of committed volunteers created and supported by Kemp. The mission of Neighbors states clearly that 'with the help of its volunteers, Neighbors, Inc. will strive to reduce poverty, promote self-sufficiency, and build community'," said David Miller, director of volunteer services at Neighbors.