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Volunteer Texas > Governor’s Volunteer Awards

Governor’s Volunteer Awards


Governor's Volunteer Awards honor the exemplary service & volunteerism of individuals & organizations making a significant impact in communities across Texas.

Across Texas, there are countless examples of how volunteering can transform lives and communities. The Governor’s Volunteer Awards shine a spotlight on these inspiring stories and offer statewide recognition to the diverse ways that Texans are giving back with their time and talents. This annual volunteer recognition program, administered by OneStar, culminates in a special ceremony at the Texas Governor’s Mansion hosted by the First Lady of Texas, Honorary Chair of the Governor’s Volunteer Awards.

Nominations for the 40th Annual Governor’s Volunteer Awards will open in August 2023.

Congratulations to this year's awardees!

OneStar is pleased to celebrate the incredible work of the 39th Annual Governor's Volunteer Award recipients.

Harriet Marmon Helmle
(San Antonio)

Governor's Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award

Mindy Gross
(Fort Bend)

Governor's Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award​

Rose Wilson

Governor's Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award​

Catherine Bai

Catherine Bai

First Lady’s Youth Volunteer Rising Star Award

Vedha Vaddaraju

First Lady’s Youth Volunteer Rising Star Award

Elizabeth Watkins

Volunteer of the Year Award

Gary Beach

Volunteer of the Year Award

Diana & Glen Egley
(New Danville)

Volunteer Family of the Year Award

LGI Homes
(Fort Bend, Harris & Montgomery Counties)

Corporate Volunteering Champion Award

Midland High School Football

Innovation in Volunteerism Award

Unite & Inspire

Innovation in Volunteerism Award

Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group
(Aransas, Bee, Kleberg, Nueces, Refugio & San Patricio Counties)

Excellence in Disaster Volunteerism Award

Texas Search and Rescue

Excellence in Disaster Volunteerism Award

Samiksha Deme

National Service “Make a Difference” Award

Texans truly are generous by nature, and Greg and I are so inspired by the selfless service shown by so many volunteers all across this great state this past year. As our communities continue to grow more resilient each day, we are reminded that the true strength of the Lone Star State is found in our people.

Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott

Guidelines & Eligibility

The Governor’s Volunteer Awards program abides by the following guidelines to maintain fairness and transparency.

  • DEADLINE EXTENDED! Nominations must be submitted no later than Friday, July 29, 2022 Wednesday, August 10, 2022.
  • The volunteer service must have been performed in Texas, serving primarily Texans.
  • A significant amount of volunteer service must have been performed within the last 18 months (with the exception of nominations in the Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award category).
  • Nominators may submit multiple nominations.
  • Previous winners are ineligible for nomination again for five years after receiving an award.
  • Current OneStar staff and board members and their immediate families are ineligible to receive an award.
  • Nominations must be submitted through OneStar’s online nomination form or via mail or fax. Click here to download a printable version of the nomination form to submit via mail or fax.

Nominators and award winners will be notified before award winners are announced publicly by Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott in fall 2022.

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.

Three glass Governor's Volunteer Award trophies lined up on a white tablecloth.

Award Categories

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

This award recognizes the extraordinary contributions of Texans 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.

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

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 is a true champion of service and a role model for family involvement in their community.

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

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 Texans.

This award recognizes organizations supporting or engaging volunteers that truly think outside the box to make volunteerism more accessible, more productive, and more available to their fellow Texans.

This award recognizes organizations, cities, and counties that do an exceptional job of utilizing volunteers to meet the needs of Texas 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 Texas.

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 Texas. Awardees go above and beyond the scope of their service requirements and inspire others to serve while creating meaningful impact.

Past Award Recipients

Each year, OneStar recognizes standout service and volunteerism efforts across a number of awards categories that recognize the diverse ways Texans are serving their communities. Learn more about our past award recipients and view photos from the Governor’s Volunteer Awards ceremonies!


Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Harriet Marmon Helmle (San Antonio)
Mindy Gross (Fort Bend)
Rose Wilson (Lubbock)
First Lady’s Rising Star Youth Volunteer Catherine Bai (Houston)
Vedha Vaddaraju (Dallas)
Volunteer of the Year Elizabeth Watkins (Frisco)
Dr. Gary Beach (Austin)
Volunteer Family of the Year Diana & Glen Egley (New Danville)
Corporate Volunteering Champion LGI Homes (Fort Bend, Harris & Montgomery Counties)
Innovation in Volunteerism Midland High School Football (Midland)
Unite & Inspire (Houston)
Excellence in Disaster Volunteerism Coastal Bend Disaster Recovery Group (Houston)
Texas Search and Rescue (Statewide)
National Service “Make a Difference” Samiksha Deme (Houston)


Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer AchievementChuck & Gena Norris (Navasota)
Cindy Brinker Simmons (Dallas/Fort Worth)
Betty Ann Taylor (Houston)
First Lady’s Rising Star Youth VolunteerHannah Guan (San Antonio)
Volunteer of the YearMadan G. Luthra (Houston)
Volunteer Family of the YearLinda & Richard Zoll (Houston)
Corporate Volunteering ChampionDiamondback Energy, Inc. (Midland/Permian Basin)
Service-Learning ChampionThe Edinburg High School Chapter of the National Honor Society (Edinburg)
Innovation in VolunteerismHookset Brother Combat Recovery 501c3 (Bullard)
Excellence in Disaster VolunteerismSomebody Cares America (Houston)
National Service “Make a Difference”Nuria A. Diallo Padro (San Antonio)


Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Bill Gilliland (Abilene)
First Lady’s Rising Star Annie Zhu & Shirley Zhu (Houston)
The Three Mask-eteers (Houston)
Partners in Education The Women’s Fund (Houston)
Service to Veterans Brandy Baxter (Dallas-Fort Worth)
Carry The Load (Northeast Texas)
Community Leadership Blake Jennings (College Station)
Crime Stoppers of Houston (Houston)
AmeriCorps Central Texas (Central Texas)
Corporate Community Impact Texas Mutual (Central Texas & statewide)
Higher Education Community Impact Rebuild Texas Carpentry Skills Training Program at Del Mar College (Coastal Bend)
National Service “Make a Difference” Samantha Mariel Sandoval Hernández (Manor)


Governor’s Lone Star Achievement AwardSammy Nieto (San Antonio)
First Lady’s Rising StarKara Weld (San Antonio)
Partners in EducationReading with Barbers (Fort Worth)
Service to VeteransH.O.N.O.R. Mentoring (Lovelady)
Community LeadershipDr. John Fink (Hondo)
Corporate Community ImpactNoble Charities Foundation (La Feria, New Braunfels)
Higher Education Community ImpactSt. Mary’s University Office of Community Engagement, Center for Legal and Social Justice and Office of University Ministry (San Antonio)
Austin Community College Student Life, Food Pantry & Resources Program (Austin)
National Service “Make a Difference”Douglas Brown (Denton)
Katie Blair (Richardson)


Governor’s Lone Star AchievementJohn Poston (Waxahachie)
First Lady’s Rising StarZeeShawn Wani (Houston)
Partners in EducationFidelity Investments (Dallas-Fort Worth)
Service to VeteransUnited Way of San Antonio & Bexar County’s Mission United (San Antonio)
Community LeadershipKatie Bourgeois (Austin)
Rust Street Ministries (San Angelo)
Marissa Vogel (Austin)
Corporate Community ImpactTeam CITGO (Houston, Corpus Christi)
Higher Education Community ImpactThe University of Texas at El Paso (El Paso)
National Service “Make a Difference”Ron & Linda Aten (Abilene)
Sara Lamog (San Angelo)
David Porter, IV (Austin)


Governor’s Lone Star AchievementDavid Godwin (Houston)
First Lady’s Rising StarMicah Pinson (Shady Shores)
Partners in EducationFort Bend Education Foundation (Sugar Land)
Service to VeteransTony Smith (Copperas Cove)
Community LeadershipHaven for Hope (San Antonio)
Corporate Community ImpactUSAA (San Antonio)
Granite Properties, Inc. (Houston, Dallas)
Higher Education Community ImpactUniversity of Houston SURE™ Program (Houston)
National Service “Make a Difference”Erin Moody (Lockhart)
Shelby Thomas (Houston)
Arlen & Mary Beth Lohse (San Angelo)


Governor’s Lone Star AchievementDennis Cavner (Austin)
First Lady’s Rising StarTaylor Thompson (Austin)
Partners in EducationLiteracy First (Austin)
Service to VeteransLaTronda Humphries, Healing Our Heroes Project (Pflugerville)
Community LeadershipMedical Center of the Americas Foundation (El Paso)
Spring Branch Family Development Center (Spring Branch)
Bastrop County Long Term Recovery Team (Bastrop)
Corporate Community ImpactBlue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas, Blue Corps® (Statewide)
Carmelo’s Ristorante Italiano (Houston, Austin)
Higher Education Community ImpactTexas Christian University Office for Community Engagement (Fort Worth)
National Service “Make a Difference”Brenda Gormley (Denton)


Governor’s Lone Star AchievementWill Williams (Round Rock)
First Lady’s Rising StarCullen Corr (Dallas)
Partners in EducationTeach for America – Rio Grande Valley (Rio Grande Valley)
Service to VeteransMilitary Veteran Peer Network of Houston (Houston)
Community LeadershipChildren’s Advocacy Centers of Texas (El Paso)
Corporate Community ImpactExxonMobil Pro Bono Program (Houston)
Higher Education Community ImpactTexas A&M University, The Big Event (College Station)
National Service “Make a Difference”Ed Boyer (Dallas and Collin Counties)
JoAnn Gama (Weslaco)


Governor’s Lifetime Volunteer AchievementName (City)
First Lady’s Rising Star Youth VolunteerName (City)
Volunteer of the YearName (City)
Volunteer Family of the YearName (City)
Corporate Volunteering ChampionName (City)
Service-Learning ChampionName (City)
Innovation in VolunteerismName (City)
Excellence in Disaster VolunteerismName (City)
National Service “Make a Difference”Name (City)

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