While this has been a year of turmoil and change, it hasn’t slowed down our Exelon volunteers. We are thrilled to celebrate this year’s outstanding volunteers by announcing our 2020 Powering Communities Employee Volunteer Award recipients. Exelon encourages all employees to take part in volunteering services that support the causes and communities where we live, work and serve.
This year, the Exelon Foundation donated $200,000 to the nonprofit organizations where our honorees serve. Out of an impressive group of 262 applicants, 26 employees stood out to impress our independent panels of nonprofit community leaders.
Please join us in congratulating the following individuals, who exemplify our longstanding tradition of strengthening the communities where we live, work, and serve. Company leaders recognized the award winners for their outstanding volunteer service at local ceremonies this fall.
Meet the Winners
Excellence Award – $20,000 Award to Habitat for Humanity
Achievement Award – $10,000 Award to Volunteer’s Charity
- Yolanda Alvin, Exelon BSC – Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope
- Yolanda lost her daughter, Alyssa (18), to cancer in July 2014 and created the Alyssa Alvin Foundation for Hope in her memory. During Alyssa’s illness, involving numerous hospitalizations, Yolanda and her family stayed at a nearby Ronald McDonald House. There she identified the need for age-appropriate art supplies and music-related activities for teens and young adults. They soon learned that engaging in art and music during medical treatment encouraged creativity and improved the well-being of patients. As President of the Foundation, Yolanda oversees all operations, including purchasing gift requests for patients, gift deliveries, conducting board meetings, and holding fundraisers. By offering these services to young patients, Yolanda’s foundation provides young people suffering through life-threatening illnesses with hope and a creative outlet. Yolanda generously shares Alyssa's creative spirit so her legacy lives on.
- Jan Boyce, BGE – Baltimore Center Stage
- Leaders at the Baltimore Center Stage (BCS) say that Jan’s “whatever you need, I am here” mentality speaks to her 22-year commitment with BCS, an organization that pursues a mission to engage, enrich, and broaden the perspectives of diverse audiences through entertaining and thought-provoking work and educational programs. She has won several awards for her service, which include donor engagement, tours, and operating a new closed-captioning system. Jan was not only at the front of the line eager to learn the new system, but she was the first person to operate it during a show. This is an example of the organization’s "Access for All" initiatives, and how Jan has been an integral part in helping communities feel welcome and valued at the theater. Jan specifically signs up for sold-out shows or the matinees where patrons require the most assistance. She genuinely enjoys helping people and seeing how impactful, inspiring, and important art experiences are to people from all different backgrounds.
- Vernita Coverdale, Delmarva Power – YMCA of Delaware
- Having grown up in Wilmington, DE in a family of seven, Vernita sees it as a dream come true to give back to the community that has done so much for her. In 2017, Vernita began volunteering with the Black Achievers Program, a teen leadership program through the YMCA of Delaware that engages high school students with adult mentors. She conducts Saturday sessions for youth and adult achievers, and coordinates field trips and industry site visits that expose teens to numerous career opportunities. As a mentor, Vernita strives to make a positive contribution to the lives of youth by offering guidance and encouragement for a brighter and more secure future. To inspire students to pursue higher education and successful careers, she guides activities on topics such as business, communications, STEM, community service, and law. Each year, Vernita also chaperones students on the one-week College Tour program where students learn all about college admission and culture. She continually strives to improve the College Tour program and has successfully contributed to the program participants’ 100 percent college acceptance rate.
- Nick Escobar, ComEd – Kreider Services
- Due to his recognized community involvement, in early-2017 Nick was invited to join the Board of Directors at Kreider Services, an organization that provides direct care programs to persons with developmental disabilities. Stepping right into a board role was a bit out of Nick’s comfort zone, but he jumped in to partner with senior leadership to provide guidance on policies and practices related to critical staffing issues. Besides finding ways to improve the organization’s workforce development initiatives, Nick provides oversight on key business functions and assists in fundraisers and volunteering opportunities, including coordinating multiple landscaping crews to clean up and mulch the yards around various community group homes. He enjoys the opportunity to work directly with clients and their families, and even introduced Kreider to the ComEd Energy Force program, which works to educate customers on energy efficiency. Through Nick’s efforts, three clients have served as community Ambassadors for the program.
- David Gaines, Exelon Generation – Beach Buccaneer Youth Club
- Being a Buccaneer means not just being part of a team, but a family. When Dave and his family first moved to Maryland, they joined the Beach Buccaneer Youth Club which provided a lifetime of memories and a long list of friends. The organization gives children the opportunity to play sports in a safe environment. Dave has helped build the organization’s website and reimagine their communications and outreach program. He also created their very first Basketball Program and stepped up as the Head Football Coach in 2017. Coach Dave also organizes fundraisers and most recently organized a coat drive that brought in more than 100 coats. Last spring, there was a fire in the fishing creek neighborhood directly behind the organization’s facility resulting in five families losing their homes. Coach Dave helped organize a fundraiser that raised $20,000—four times the amount of their goal. Coach Dave said, “this organization has provided my family with a family in Maryland.”
- Ronald Kellett, ComEd – Helping Hands Pantry
- Many years ago, Ron experienced the feelings of anxiety, stress, and helplessness when access to food his family became challenging; it is something that he doesn’t want others to ever experience. For the many people finding themselves unable to provide daily meals for their families, Helping Hands Pantry is a safe haven. As President of the Board of Directors and an integral part of the organization’s creation, Ron has many responsibilities to ensure the shelves of the pantry are full for local families in need. You’ll often find Ron picking up products from local stores, stocking shelves, and making sure the pantry is ready to go. Ensuring families in his community have food on their tables is Ron’s way of helping and giving back to those families that are experiencing the same feelings he felt all those years ago.
- Nathaniel Nichols, PECO – Imprint Hope
- Challenging a longstanding cultural belief system is a very intimidating task. Nate and Imprint Hope envision a world where all children with disabilities are embraced for their unique talents and given the opportunity to realized their full potential. Nate’s longtime desire of applying his engineering skills to help others came true when he became a volunteer architecture and engineering team with Engineering Ministries International (EMI). EMI supports Imprint Hope and their work to improve the lives of children with disabilities in Uganda. Spending nine days in Uganda, Nate’s volunteer team was tasked with master planning an innovative handicap-accessible rehabilitation and educational center. He created a culturally appropriate balance of utilizing local power sources, solar-paneled energy and diesel-generated power sources in order to optimize available resources. His presence challenged locals to second-guess their ingrained belief systems regarding the stigma of disabilities. Additionally, Nate has found great success with sharing his story as part of the organization’s advocacy efforts.
- David Rasmussen, Constellation – Community Foundation of Greater Johnstown
- Once an abundant industrial and coal-mining town, Johnstown, PA has seen a steady decrease in jobs and population. David recognized the growing need to reimagine the city and has played a critical role in rebuilding it with new attractions. One of the main development opportunities for the area has been outdoor recreation as the city has the “World’s Steepest Vehicular Inclined Plane.” David partnered with the Community Foundation of Greater Johnstown and pitched the idea of utilizing the plane to connect and build new trails. The city approved this volunteer-led project, and in two years, David’s team has built nine trails taking care not to cut down healthy trees or disrupt natural waterways. Prior to this project there was only one hiking trail. Now there is a network of trails that offer fun and safe ways for locals and visitors to get out and enjoy nature.
- Sharon Roach, ACE, & Karen Stanford, Exelon BSC – Beautiful Gates Outreach Center
- Eliminating the spread of HIV/AIDS and improving the quality of life of those living with and affected by the disease is what led Sharon and Karen to partner with Beautiful Gates Outreach Center. You’ll often find them educating adults living with HIV/AIDS on transmission prevention strategies and outreach assistance and empowering them to become active members of the community. The duo also prepares breakfast, purchases necessities, and coordinates coat drives for members of the center. Sharon and Karen actively participate in monthly trainings to enhance their knowledge of HIV prevention and serve as mentors to community members. In addition, they often present at HIV educational events geared toward women and girls.
- Wanda Roberts, Exelon BSC – Christian Roberts Foundation
- To lose a child through a senseless act of gun violence tears at the very core of a parent. Wanda’s son Christian lost his life in January 2019. He was known for his kind heart and his tremendous impact in serving the homeless community and victims of gun violence. To assist in her own healing process, Wanda founded the Christian Roberts Foundation with a mission to provide care and compassion for homeless communities and to support victims of gun violence by letting them know that they are not alone and providing them resources for healing. As President of the Foundation, Wanda fundraises, hosts board meetings, manages volunteers and coordinates events. The organization provides shoes, supplies and other personal products to people experiencing homelessness in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. The Foundation also provides scholarships to young men and women who have lost a caregiver to gun violence.
- Nancy Russo, Exelon BSC – Linda Creed Epstein Foundation
- In 2015, Nancy was elected to the Linda Creed Epstein Foundation Board of Directors, an organization that strives to fight breast cancer through community-based education, referral, support, advocacy and direct service. The organization provides free mammograms and diagnostic tests to women who are uninsured or under-insured, and do not qualify for government programs. Since joining the board, Nancy’s support of fundraising efforts is never in doubt, as she is someone the organization can rely on to promote and encourage event attendance. She has been instrumental in building an automated registration process for the Annual Luncheon that provided post-event financial reports. This past year, she led the efforts to acquire and implement Givesmart, an event management software that greatly reduced administration staff time with set-up and financial closing for the event.
- Karen Smith, Pepco Holdings – Food and Friends
- Anyone can get sick and everyone can help. That is the simple premise by which Food and Friends operates. Karen volunteers with Food and Friends, an organization that works to improve the lives and health of people with cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other serious illnesses that limit their ability to provide nourishment for themselves. On Saturdays and on holidays Karen delivers medically tailored meals and groceries in D.C. that are designed to meet the medical and dietary needs of each client. Karen often takes high school students with her to educate them about the importance of community service. She spends a little extra time with clients by catching up with them and giving hugs. Karen looks forward to volunteering full-time when she retires.
- Conchita Whitaker, BGE – Taking the Lead
- Conchita witnessed a young man with autism speak his first words on horseback. She’s watched a six-year-old girl with cerebral palsy walk independently for the first time down the aisles in her barn during a therapy lesson. This shows the profound impact animals can have on humans and their rehabilitation, which Conchita’s daughter to found Taking the Lead. Taking the Lead is an organization that uses animal therapy to empower and engage people of all abilities and emotional, developmental and physical disabilities. Conchita purchased an 80-acre farm where Taking the Lead houses its animals and hosts all of its programs. The farm boasts an indoor arena for training and riding, three barns, fenced pastures, and wheelchair accessible ramps. Beyond providing the location, Conchita is the Board President and oversees fundraisers, events, and weekly lessons. She also spends about eight hours each week aiding the horse program.
Merit Award – $5,000 Award to Volunteer’s Charity
- Dawn Furlough, Delmarva Power – Special Olympics Maryland
- When Dawn was younger, she lost her cousin to cerebral palsy and wishes that she had the opportunity to be involved in Special Olympics Maryland (SOMD) growing up. Dawn is now involved with the organization and makes a lasting impact on the staff and athletes by continuously looking for ways to create a world where opportunity is not limited by disability. She began as a skills station volunteer at the state golf championship, and then as a general volunteer at one of the regional bowling competitions. Dawn excelled in those roles, and soon expressed interest in becoming more involved with organizational strategy. Due to her dedication in providing high-level, quality competition experiences for the athletes, SOMD was pleased to move Dawn into volunteer leadership positions. Since then, she has served as a lead volunteer on various management teams throughout the sports department, including golf, kayaking, control center (Summer Games and soccer), and the Winter Games Evaluation Team.
- William Lankford, Exelon Generation – St. Leonard Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co. 7
- When a neighbor or family calls for help, William (Bill) is on it. As a volunteer with St. Leonard Volunteer Fire & Rescue Co. 7, Bill has a passion and sense of duty to help neighbors at their most vulnerable times. He has run countless fires, performed CPR, extricated people from mangled vehicles, comforted people taking their last breath, and consoled many family members who lost a loved one. Seeing people on their best days and encountering them on their worst is a tough job, but Bill has volunteered with fire departments for nearly 46 years, with the last 17 years served in Company 7. Bill has served in multiple positions both operationally and administratively, including coordinating fundraisers and serving as the Safety Officer, Chief Engineer, and Board Member. As the current Driving Training Officer, Bill upgrades and improves the department’s driving program to ensure driver and crew safety. Several times each month, he overnights at the station to provide driving, Firefighter, and EMT coverage. Bill has been credited with over 230 emergency responses and several prestigious awards.
- Luis Lopez, ComEd – Pastors International Foundation
- Luis has been serving youth in the Dominican Republic for 13 years and recently teamed up with the Pastors International Foundation to continue his work. He partners with the Foundation to identify youth who are impacted by homelessness, extreme poverty, aging out of an orphanage, or lack of legal documentation. From there, he assesses their needs to immediately assist with food, housing, clothing, and beginning the documentation process through the Dominican Government. As a native Dominican, Luis navigates through the legal documentation process, communicates with key people, and understands the language and governmental policies. He spends a considerable amount of his time working with youth in the Dominican Republican and almost single-handedly revitalized the Foundation by raising awareness to their cause.
- Jill Lyon, Exelon Generation – Oswego County Opportunities
- Jill is a dedicated volunteer with Oswego County Opportunities (OCO), an organization that provides services to support communities and change lives. OCO fights poverty and provides crisis assistance, care management, residential services, job training, education, and literacy training for children and adults. As a Board Member, Jill serves on the Development and Fundraising Committees and consistently identifies ways to address the needs in Oswego County. While providing strategic direction to OCO, she also helps to coordinate their annual fundraiser, Giving Thanks, and assisted in raising $29,000 to benefit local families this past year. Jill reaches out to local businesses to discuss partnerships, collects flowers from her personal garden to create centerpieces for events, arrives early to set up, and stays late to clean up. OCO leadership views Jill as a trusted advisor and mentor, and often connects with her to discuss organizational objectives and impact.
- Ronald Mascola, ACE – Hammonton Volunteer Fire Company No. 1
- Ron’s volunteerism is motivated by his grandfather, who emphasized the importance of family. Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Ron has served with the Hammonton Volunteer Fire Company No. 1 for 34 years and is currently the President. In addition to being active in Fire and Rescue operations, Ron manages the daily operations of building maintenance, fundraising, and personnel. He is the liaison between the Fire Company and the community and works to build strong partnerships. When the community is told to seek shelter, ride out the storm, stay indoors or off the roads, that's when Ron and his team get to work. Knowing that he is part of a team that positively changes lives during a crisis is a feeling that is hard for Ron to describe, but it’s truly rewarding.
- Rosemary Mele, PECO – HEADstrong Foundation
- In 2014, Rosemary’s husband, Pete, was battling Leukemia at the University of Pennsylvania when they met the President of the HEADstrong Foundation (HSF) while leading a game of Bingo with patients and their families. Rosemary joined the game and was instantly drawn to the caring nature offered by the HSF volunteers. HSF provides support so that families may live with dignity and normalcy while dealing with cancer treatment. They provided Rosemary and her family critical support during a very difficult time. Since then, Rosemary and her family have supported HSF in many ways. Rosemary serves on the Patient Service Committee and coordinates fun events, such as Bingo Night, Comedy Night, Ice Cream Socials, Jazz Night, and Movie Night. Leading and facilitating these events includes working with HSF executives, hospital administration, nursing staff, and recruiting and training volunteers to work in a hospital setting. HSF has given Rosemary the ability to pay it forward in her husband's name and by sharing her story with others in the fight. With her empathetic approach, Rosemary truly relates to each patient and provides critical support to those in need.
- Sean Newlin, ACE – Bianca’s Kids
- Sean learned about Bianca’s Kids, an organization that grants wishes to children in need, when Autumn, a local 11-year-old girl, went missing. The small community of Clayton, N.J. was overrun by media while residents frantically searched and later learned that she was murdered. Bianca’s Kids supported the search efforts and later advocated to have a community park renamed in her memory. With the success of that project, and from that moment on, Newlin did everything he could to support the organization. Bianca's Kids was formed in 2010 after Bianca Yodice, who loved working with children, was a pedestrian killed in an automobile accident. Newlin organizes personal fundraisers, enhances social media efforts, hosts an annual toy drive, and plans the annual Adopt a Foster Child for Christmas program, which provides more than 1,000 children with Christmas gifts. In 2018, Newlin was asked to join the Board of Directors.
- Brandon Nichols & Casey Maust, Exelon Generation – Getting Heroes Home
- Founded in 2019 by Exelon Generation employees, Brandon Nichols and Casey Maust, Getting Heroes Home provides emergency and holiday travel funding to active duty military personnel. Family moments are important, so Brandon and Casey work to remove the financial burden for military members to go home for funerals, birthdays, holidays, or to see their baby for the first time. In their first year of operation, a goal of sending 10 military members home was set and then surpassed as their efforts funded 62 military members and their families. Brandon and Casey have coordinated four major fundraisers, answered travel requests, booked travel arrangements for applicants, and worked with the local Chamber of Commerce and community to back their mission. In addition, they have been recognized by multiple local news agencies and were nominated by the community for Volunteer of the Year.
- David Tidball, ComEd – Grundy Area PADS
- It’s no surprise for the Grundy Area PADS team to see Dave come through the doors for a last minute 3 a.m. shift. He’s been an invaluable resource to an organization that provides shelter, services, and support for anyone experiencing homelessness in the Grundy County area. The organization has been struggling with volunteer commitment, but Dave has kept the shelter from having to shut down several times by always stepping up to serve a shift…even at 3 a.m. For almost two years, Dave has been volunteering with Grundy Area PADS as a nightly volunteer who interacts with guests directly. He also serves as a site coordinator on weeknights to ensure that the facility is prepped with volunteers, food, and supplies. In addition, Dave serves on the Board of Directors and helps with project planning, fundraising, and ensuring that the organization is a positive force for the community. Most recently, he was elected as the Board President of Grundy Area PADS/Phoenix Rehousing.
- Brian Weatherford, Constellation – The Family Tree
- Brian envisions a world where children have a wonderful home life filled with love. With the belief that every child deserves a chance, he partnered with The Family Tree to prevent child abuse and neglect by building safe, caring and protective communities. Their vision is to give families and communities the information, education and support they need to “Raise Up” their children using safe, effective and nurturing parenting practices. As a board member, Brian takes a grassroots approach to his involvement – be there, communicate, participate in meetings, reach out to other business leaders, and lead by example. Brian was instrumental in helping The Family Tree create The Next Generation Network and mentors young professionals in Maryland to help them grow personally and professionally. He also helps to coordinate the free Holiday Shop to parents, giving them the joy of choosing gifts for their child(ren) while removing the stressful financial burden.
In 14 years, this awards program has recognized more than 250 employee volunteers and contributed nearly $2 million to nonprofit partners.