ARTreach Fort Bend Top Volunteer
Volunteer Fort Bend names top five volunteers
(as published in the Fort Bend Independent and Fort Bend Star) After a county-wide search for the top volunteers in Fort Bend County, five have been selected by a panel of judges from 24 nominations received.
These five individuals-Dave Kiger, Carol Manby, Susan Papa, Christine Smith, and Nolan Stilwell-have exhibited exemplary service to the organizations for which they volunteer and have made a significant impact in the lives they touch.
The five honorees will be recognized for their accomplishments by Fort Bend County Judge Bob Hebert at a celebratory breakfast on Thursday, April 28, beginning at 7:30 a.m. at Safari Texas Ranch, 11627 FM 1464 in Richmond.
The panel of judges included Stafford pharmacist Gene Woo; community volunteer Shirley Clark; Suzanne Hinds with United Way of Greater Houston; Fred Arnold with Minute Maid; Kelly Matte with H-E-B at Sienna Market; and Linda Cahue with Hyatt Sugar Land.
Minute Maid is the presenting sponsor of the awards ceremony, for the third year in a row.
The ARTreach honoree is a student at Katy High School - Nolan Stilwell.
At 21 years of age, Stilwell is already making a name for himself in the Fort Bend ARTreach community as a gifted culinary artist and budding entrepreneur. ARTreach is a non-profit organization that uses the arts to make a difference in the lives of at-risk children, special-needs groups, the elderly, and neglected populations.
Stilwell has been involved with the organization for the past two years.
Through his participation in ARTreach, Stilwell discovered a passion for gardening and cooking, and now he is realizing his dream of becoming a culinary artist with a business.
"Sweet Heat" The jalapeno jelly that Stilwell has become known for is sold at ARTreach events to help raise money for the organization's outreach programs. The fact that Stilwell has Down's syndrome has not slowed him down or deterred him from pursuing his goals.
Through his own example, he is paving the way for other students with special needs who want to transition from high school into "real life" and working in the Fort Bend community.
In a way, Stilwell is acting as an ambassador representing young adults with special needs. He is helping to build awareness in mainstream society that people with Down's syndrome are real people with hopes for a happy and meaningful life, just like everyone else.
"Nolan's optimism is contagious," says Terri Bieber, who nominated Stilwell for the award. "When parents of other special-needs children see him at our events, they see an exciting and creative future for their children as well.
According to Bieber, Stilwell's creativity, initiatives and abilities have enabled ARTreach to find new ways of helping at-risk and special-needs students achieve success.
"As a child with Down's syndrome, Nolan was always described as 'different,'" says Bieber, "but today he is recognized for the difference he is creating for the future of other students like him."
Join in applauding the amazing accomplishments of Nolan and the other honorees at the 2011 County Judge's Volunteer Fort Bend Awards Ceremony on April 28.
Individual tickets and corporate sponsorships are still available.
For information, call Kathy Renfrow, Director of Volunteer Fort Bend, at 281-340-1919, or email her at kathyr@VolunteerHouston.org.