LAWRENCEBURG, Ind., December 21, 2022 – The Dearborn Community Foundation, Inc. (DCF) is honoring three community volunteers as 2022 recipients of the Heart of Gold Award for touching the hearts of others through their volunteerism and other acts of kindness.
The Heart of Gold Award honorees deserve the 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 role models for how all of us can have a positive impact on others.”
The 2022 Heart of Gold honorees, nominated by a DCF committee and then chosen as Heart of Gold Award recipients by the Foundation’s board of directors, are given the privilege to serve on the “Heart of Gold Grants Committee.” Each recipient recommends a proactive grant(s) totaling $750 to a charitable organization that serves Dearborn County residents.
This year’s honorees are Mindy Bruce, Logan Lawrence, and Bill Ward. The 2022 Heart of Gold Award recipients have much in common, including their humbleness about how their good works impact on the community. They also are known for being leaders who enjoy working with others to get things done to improve the community.
This year’s honorees bring the total to 118 for the number of volunteers honored in the 24 years of the program designed to recognize the community’s fine volunteers and to promote philanthropy. To learn more about these Dearborn Countians with “Hearts of Gold,” please read their stories:
Heart of Gold Honorees’ Stories
Mindy Bruce is a “compassionate servant leader,” who is “thorough in everything she does” to help others in the community, says Jan Tyler a longtime volunteer on the leadership team for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in Dearborn County.
Bruce, 43, Aurora, had been involved with Relay for Life, an annual event that raises funds for the fight against cancer, for many years but things got a bit more personal in 2010 when her husband, Les, was diagnosed with Lymphoma. Les underwent months of treatment and is now in remission. After her husband’s diagnosis and treatment, Bruce decided to attend the Relay for Life kick-off meeting to learn how to get more involved. The rest is history!
“They needed a lead for the survivorship activities, and I agreed to do it,” said Bruce. “It’s a great feeling to help others, and Les and I also gained a lot of friends and learned from others’ cancer journeys.”
The survivor activities at Relay for Life are designed to help survivors celebrate, meet others, and share experiences. Bruce and her team of volunteers provides a healthy meal, survivor T-shirt, a goody bag and more to survivors. Bruce also stays in touch with survivors on an ongoing basis, said Tyler, a cancer survivor herself.
What Bruce does in her leadership role is very important to survivors, others who have cancer, and their family members, said Tyler. “Cancer touches families and you want family members, especially children, to see that many people do survive.” she said. “Mindy is detailed oriented, and she’s also very compassionate about how she and her team, which includes her family members and friends, carry out the activities.”
Bruce also always has a Relay for Life team, made up of family and friends, that helps raise funds during the event and throughout the year, said Tyler.
Bruce, a 22-year employee of Midwest Data, Lawrenceburg, also has been quite involved as a volunteer for Aurora Fire Department (AFD). She’s a granddaughter of a firefighter and her husband is a volunteer at AFD, so it’s just “natural to support firefighters and EMS that protect us all,” said. She’s proud to be involved in the efforts to raise funds through chicken and fish fries and the annual haunted house to support the expenses of the fire department. She’s also been involved in the fundraising for the fire department’s two scholarships for high school seniors that are awarded annually through the South Dearborn Dollars for Scholars organization.
Bruce is humble about her time spent volunteering to help others, explaining that she “gets satisfaction helping others, and so many others do more than I do in the community.” She also credits influences like her parents, grandfather, and aunt for setting examples of community service. She wants to set an example for her four-year-old daughter Bailey. “We need to remember to teach our young people to help others out.”
Tyler says Bruce is doing a great job setting the example for others. “She is very community oriented and she’s quiet about it as a servant leader. She does things for others we probably will never know about. She’s successful in her leadership and is making a difference in our community.”
Bill Ward retired 17 years ago as a plant manager for a plastics manufacturing firm, but he really hasn’t retired from working. Some might say he’s “working for the Master.”
Bruce Lippard, Ward’s friend, and fellow North Dearborn Pantry, Bright, volunteer, says “the word compassion comes up when I think of Bill. He always puts the patrons first. He asks what else can be done to help people in need and to do it with respect. He takes seriously helping other people.”
Ward, 71, St. Leon, served 10 years either as the North Dearborn Pantry Board president or vice president but has been involved as a volunteer there for about 17 years. In his current role, Ward serves as a volunteer chief financial officer of sorts, helping the treasurer manage financial matters, including budgeting, said Lippard. Ward also is a volunteer truck driver, picking up food donations one to two times a week. He also makes exchanges of food items with other pantries.
Ward along with his wife of 47 years, Teresa, are involved in many other special events/fundraisers at North Dearborn Pantry. At Thanksgiving, he negotiates prices for the purchase of turkeys and picks them up and takes them back to the freezer at the pantry. He’s also been a major volunteer all nine years of the annual Thanksgiving Day All Saints Parish Gobble Wobble 5K run/walk that raises funds for North Dearborn and Sunman pantries along with a pantry at East Central High School.
An example of how Ward’s unique, genuine way of showing appreciation to others who support North Dearborn Pantry is how he takes the time to hand write thank you notes to many contributors. “If you’ve been on the receiving end, you know what it means to you to receive a personalized thank you note,” said Ward. “I just try to thank them for their donation and let them know what it’s helping with or did help us do for someone.”
It’s Ward’s way of doing the “little things” that shows his compassion for others, said Lippard. “Bill does so many things, little things. If someone needs a coat, he’ll get them a coat. He’s constantly thinking about doing something for someone else.”
Ward’s “out-of-the-box” thinking really played out during COVID-19 meat shortages, said Lippard. Ward came up with the idea of buying a beef cow or two and have them processed for ground beef for pantry clients. Ward negotiated a price for the animals and then found a place to take the cows for processing. “That’s Bill. Who would’ve thought of that?”
Bill and Teresa Ward, members of All Saints Parish, are often partners in doing good for others. They have been mentoring young couples engaged for marriage for 37 years. It all started when they lived in Iowa for a few years. When they returned to Indiana they continued. “It’s one of the biggest things about our involvement at church. We spend five or six evenings with a couple prior to their wedding, just talking about the practical things of being married.”
The Ward’s also have been involved with the Pregnancy Care Center in Lawrenceburg. Bill was a part of the Man-2-Man mentoring program. Bill is also a former DCF Board member, serving several years as Treasurer. He’s also a member of the Foundation’s Investment and Grants committees.
Ward, like many Heart of Gold Award recipients, says family and friends have provided him with great examples of doing for others without expecting anything in return. North Dearborn Pantry founder Ann Jeffries is one of them. “I was involved in the pantry during its early organizational times. There was a little squabbling going on and Ann stopped us and said, ‘just remember who we’re working for.’ She said, ‘we’re working for the Master.’”
Ward also said his dad was a role model for him and his siblings growing up Loogootee, Indiana. “He was always involved with St. Vincent DePaul and generally helping others. When asked why he lends a hand to others, Ward said: “Ultimately, it’s to bring glory to God!”
Logan Lawrence is held up as an example to students at Lawrenceburg High School of how you can accomplish anything if you set your mind to it. Lawrence, now 23, at the age of 17 organized the Cruisin to A Cure for ALS car show in memory of his grandfather Carlos Lawrence. The car show raises funds designated for ALS research and to support those who are battling the incurable disease. The car show has grown from 400 registered vehicles in its first year to more than 800 while raising $190,000 in six years.
“At 17, Logan was a doer,” said Carmen Lusk, Lawrence’s high school student council advisor. “I tell my students about how he was 17 and put together what is one of the largest events in our area and it raises funds to fight ALS.”
Lusk, the JAG (Jobs for America’s Grads) Specialist at LHS, says Lawrence is an example of how you can accomplish things no matter your age if you just put your mind to it. She is also involved in the car show, helping to organize LHS youth volunteers for the event, so she sees firsthand how Lawrence interacts with youth volunteers.
“Logan does a great job with the students who volunteer. He’s a leader. He empowers them to take charge and lead too. He’s a great role model,” said Lusk.
Lawrence says his grandfather, who died of ALS at the age of 67, when he was not quite 10 years of age, was a role model to him. His grandfather’s death was very hard on him. “The last three months, he (Carlos) was in the hospital on a ventilator. … With the car show, I just wanted to give back and make a difference for others dealing with ALS and do it in his memory.”
Lawrence’s grandfather and his dad, Mike Lawrence, were both drag racers and so is Logan. As a kid he spent a lot of time around his grandfather and his father, and it usually had something to do with cars and racing, he said. “It made sense to have a car show fundraiser.”
The car show not only has raised thousands of dollars for both research and to support those fighting ALS, but it also brings awareness to the incurable disease in which 5,000-6,000 Americans are diagnosed with annually. Most live two to five years after diagnosis and it’s compared to “drowning slowly,” said Lawrence.
Lawrence does the budgeting, marketing, and most of the planning of the annual car show that draws thousands of visitors to downtown Lawrenceburg. Lawrence’s family, dad Mike, mom Beth, sisters, Meghan and Taylor, and his girlfriend Hannah Binkley all pitch in along with college roommates Cole Earl and Brett Womble. He says about 75 volunteers, including 25-30 LHS students and about 15 college students, make his job easier.
“The show would never be as successful without all of the volunteers,” said Lawrence. “The Dearborn County community really comes together to support you.”
Lawrence certainly supports his community in other ways too! Lusk says she recently posted in social media about the upcoming JAG Career Fair at LHS. Lawrence, a Systems Engineer for Ingersoll Rand, Air Compressors, in West Chester, Ohio, was one of the first to offer help. “He sent me a message and asked what he could do to help with the job fair. He’s always ready to help and he never expects anything in return for what he does in the community.”
The 2023 Cruisin to A Cure for ALS car show is on May 7 in downtown Lawrenceburg.