LAWRENCEBURG, Ind., November 18, 2016 – The Dearborn Community Foundation, Inc. (DCF) recently honored four community volunteers as 2016 recipients of the “Heart of Gold Award.”

The Heart of Gold recipients were recognized for touching the hearts of others through their volunteerism and other acts of kindness. “These honorees deserve this recognition for making a difference in our community in their own unique ways,” said Fred McCarter, Executive Director of the Dearborn Community Foundation. “They are all role models for how all of us can have a positive impact on others.”

Each of the four Heart of Gold honorees, nominated by others in the community and then chosen as Heart of Gold Award recipients by a Foundation committee, will be given the privilege to serve on the “Heart of Gold Grants Committee” to award a total of $2,500 in proactive grants to charitable organizations that serve Dearborn County residents.

In recent years, Heart of Gold recipients have been recognized for helping senior citizens or disadvantaged persons, working to improve the quality of education, expanding recreational or cultural opportunities, working with children, protecting the environment, promoting public safety and other acts of kindness. This year’s honorees are Lara Komon, Roberta Schuster, Andrea Shuter, and Carolyn Stroup.

Heart of Gold Honorees’ Stories

 Lara Komon

Lara Komon’s email signature, a quote from Karma R. Springfield, best summarizes why I am nominating her for the Heart of Gold Award: “So every little bit of love I give to another, you know I believe it comes back to me.” I first met Lara when she registered to participate in a National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) Walk in 2011, and volunteered to help in any way. It was the first year for a NEDA Walk. Her smile and open-hearted kindness was obvious the first time we met. I learned Lara’s career goal was to be a therapist, and as an adult student, she was very dedicated to this goal.

I asked if she would be interested in being part of a new group to raise awareness about the importance of mental health, particularly eating disorders. Her immediate answer was yes! That was more than six years ago. Lara helped develop, support and has donated many hours to the Tri-State Eating Disorder Resource Team, a volunteer organization. She serves as the Vice-President and wears many hats. She helps with a wide range of things from budget to event planning. Lara started a free and confidential support group in 2012 that continues today. Lara achieved her longtime career goal of becoming an M.A. therapist in Dearborn County. She is dedicated to improving the community in which she lives. She continues to volunteer as a peer leader in the support groups that she helped to start. Lara encourages others to become involved in volunteer work, and gently guides them along the way. One of Lara’s passions is helping our youth, or as Lara says: “Kiddos.” One of the ways she has given so much is by becoming a foster parent, opening her home and heart to Kiddos. She invests herself wholeheartedly as a foster parent. One of the things she frequently tells me is that she loves to help make the lives of those she comes in contact with a little better, even if only for a moment in time. She is a difference-maker in Dearborn County and lives are better for knowing her.

She gently reminds me that love can speak louder through her daily actions of being a model of acceptance and love. I believe our world needs more people like Lara. Her heart is made of the most beautiful gold. I am honored to know her! Nominated by Paula Bruner

Roberta Schuster

Roberta Schuster is a Rape Crisis Support & Advocacy Volunteer Advocate for the DIRECTIONS! Program of Community Mental Health Center, Inc. She joined the crisis team in 1987 and she participated in extensive training preparing her for her role as a Victim Advocate. After completing the training, Roberta signed up for multiple hotline shifts each month. She provided hospital accompaniment for victims, legal and court advocacy, and spent numerous hours sitting in courtrooms supporting survivors. Along with her advocacy role, she was a small group leader for the “Kid-a-bility” Program offered in elementary schools to fourth and fifth-grade students, for several years. The program name was later changed to “Think Smart-Stay Safe.” During her years on the crisis team, Roberta gained vast experience, in helping survivors navigate the murky waters of evidence collection, law enforcement interviews, and court proceedings. She held their hands, answered their questions, and reminded them of their value and worth. To many, she was their lifeline during the acute phase of their trauma. Now, some 30 years later, Roberta still takes hotline shifts, goes to the hospital with victims, and sits quietly in courtrooms. Additionally, she serves as a daytime back-up for calls coming in during the day, assists with training of new volunteers, and is always ready and willing to help in any way. She is resourceful, generous, committed, and works diligently to be sure all victims/survivors of rape and sexual assault are treated with dignity and respect. Her years, of selfless service and experience span 30 years. She truly has a heart of gold. Nominated by Catherine Dwyer

Andrea Shuter

Andrea Shuter is currently the GIS Lead Technician for Dearborn County. Along with her job, she is treasurer for ISPLS/Greenville Treaty Chapter. Andrea and her husband, Earl, have two children, Andrew and Ellie, and have adopted a third, Carissa. On top of being a mother of three and working a full-time job, Andrea has recently joined the Aurora Life Squad as a volunteer and started the EMT class. She also volunteers at St. John’s Lutheran School in Aurora, where her children attend school and where they are members of the congregation. At church, she volunteers for the Farmer’s Fair food booth. She previously managed the  Market Day program, and is the current treasurer for the St. John’s PTL. She believes involvement with your children is essential to their well-being. She ran the Aurora Little League concession stand this season and will be the Little League safety officer next year. You can also find Andrea helping with her daughter’s SAY Soccer Team or helping out at the Hogan Township Fire Department, where her husband is assistant chief. Andrea has also volunteered at events held by Mt. Sinai United Methodist Church, and is willing to lend a helping hand whenever she is asked. All of these attributes represent to me someone who puts others before herself, and has an open and beautiful heart. What I think makes Andrea so special is that she does everything without asking for recognition, accolades, or acknowledgement. Nominated by Andrea Ewan

Carolyn Stroup

I cannot remember a time when Carolyn Stroup wasn’t doing things to help others from young to elderly and everyone in-between. I first met Carolyn nearly 40 years ago while helping with vacation Bible school. She taught a class, baked the cookies and provided transportation for kids who had none. As a Girl Scouts volunteer, she always set a fine example for the girls of what an exemplary Girl Scout should be. I can still hear her saying, “Always leave things better than you found them.” As a member of the Lawrenceburg Tri Kappa, she has worked on the Mental Health Committee, organizing everything from Halloween events for members of the Lawrenceburg group home to planting flowers at the group home in Aurora. We have shopped for Christmas presents for the group home residents and when we reached our budgeted amount, Carolyn eagerly paid the balance with no hesitation. She wanted to make sure the residents had the items that would bring smiles to their faces. I remember when her mother was a resident of the Lutheran Community Home. Carolyn realized that many of the elderly residents couldn’t wrap their Christmas gifts by themselves, so she organized a group to wrap presents for them. Carolyn is a hostess for the next Tri Kappa meeting and has arranged for us to have our meeting at Ridgewood Health Campus, so a member who is now a resident there can attend the meeting. She is always thinking of others. She does all these things while working a part-time job as a registrar at Dearborn County Hospital. She is a very active member of St. John’s Lutheran Church at Bellaire. I have come to realize that helping others is a passion for this wonderful friend. I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Carolyn. Nominated by Patti Bascom