Six Northern Virginians were among those receiving Volunteer Activist Awards by the Voluntary Clearinghouses of the National Capital Area this month. Two area organizations also received recognition.
The winners, selected from more than 250 nominations, were honored in a ceremony kicking off National Volunteer Week. Barbara Bush, wife of Vice President George Bush, presented the awards for outstanding volunteer service.
Those area individuals honored were:
* Larry Brown of Arlington: The former Washington Redskins running back has been a volunteer for many years with the D.C. Department of Corrections, working to find funding sources for their education programs.
* Elisabeth Hickman, Manassas: Several years ago, when a group of ministers in Manassas was looking around for a volunteer to help them in coordinating emergency relief efforts in the area, Hickman offered her time because "I just wanted to do something."
Five years later, Hickman became president of SERVE (Securing Emergency Resources through Voluntary Efforts) and distributes food and other relief services to homeless and destitute people. Her greatest success has been finding a house to turn into a shelter for homeless families in Manassas.
* Bettijane Mackall, Fairfax: As a state humane officer, Mackall is authorized to enforce the laws that protect animals and has spent most of her money and time in the effort.
"I can't bear to have someone call and say there's a man beating a horse," Mackall said. "I have to go, even if we're in the middle of a dinner party."
In 1975, Mackall organized the Animal Protection Association of America, a group that acts as a clearinghouse for animal protection legislation and can answer questions from people all over the country about the laws in their area.
* Gary G. Orndoff, Manassas: When he is not working full time at Curry's Auto Parts in Manassas, Orndoff, 22, usually can be found tinkering with the inside of an ambulance or rescue truck at the Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad where he is responsible for maintaining all nine rescue vehicles. He also is assistant chief of the rescue squad and an associate member of the Centreville Volunteer Fire Department.
Orndoff spends 14 to 48 hours a week at his volunteer work, he said. "It's just sort of a hobby with me."
Robert E. Renz, Annandale. Renz was cited for his lifelong work with fatherless and friendless boys, including coordinating relief efforts for orphans during the Korean War.
"I've worked with hundreds of boys all over Washington, counseling them, encouraging them, just trying to be a friend to them," Renz said. "Almost every night a few come over to have supper with me. I never married, so I can use most of my Air Force retirement on them."
He said he feels God called him to the work because "everyone has to be responsible for children."
* Ruth Sing Wong, Alexandria: A retired government worker, Wong has been helping settle Asian refugees in Northern Virginia full time for the last four years. Fluent in Chinese, Wong works with new families to help them find housing, furniture and clothing.
"Many come off the plane with nothing, and we would have to find everything," Wong said.
She also tutors refugees in English and is active in the Organization of Chinese-Americans and the Asian/Pacific American Heritage Council.
The two organizations honored were:
* Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, Northern Virginia Chapter: Organized by Edward Kunec, this chapter of MADD was responsible for the creation of the Fairfax County Task Force on Drunk Driving and was successful in getting stronger drunk-driver legislation enacted by the Virginia legislature this year.
"It was encouraging, but we didn't think it was enough," said Kenuc, reflecting on the changes the Virginia legislature approved this year. "We're already busy working on legislation for next year."
* The Virginia Wildflower Preservation Society: More than 320 wildflower enthusiasts in Northern Virginia are working together to protect Virginia's native plants from "the inevitable destruction of their environment in developing areas," founder Mary M. Painter said.
Organized two years ago, the group works with people planning to build on land where rare or special plants live, sometimes persuading the builders to alter design plans to preserve plants or rescuing rare plants by digging them up and planting them in a permanent spot elsewhere in the county.