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January 31, 2008

Seeking Nominations for 2008 Mayor's Volunteer Houston Awards

Nominations for the 2008 Mayor's Volunteer Houston Awards are open until midnight Friday, February 15, 2008. Applications can be obtained in hard copy at any City of Houston library, community center or health clinic. Applications are also available online at www.houstontx.gov/volunteer.

Awards will be given in 8 categories for outstanding volunteerism in the greater Houston area.

1. YOUTH - Performed by young persons 19 and under

2. CIVIC - Benefiting neighborhoods, parks and open spaces or supporting the environment or public services

3. HEALTH - Supporting health care, health education or wellness

4. EDUCATION - Supporting educational programs and activities

5. SOCIAL SERVICE - Addressing basic human needs

6. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT- Not-for-profit initiatives that encourage economic & community developmen i.e. housing, work force job creation, and building infrastructure such as Faith-based Initiatives and Economic Development Corporations

7. GROUPS - Achievements accomplished by a group such as a club, church, school or family

8. CULTURAL & PERFORMING ARTS - Supporting the community through cultural projects and programs

Mayor Bill White will recognize winners in each category at the Mayor's Volunteer Houston Awards Dinner on Tuesday, May 6, 2008. Should you have questions or concerns, please feel free to call Volunteer Houston at (713) 965-0031 or email julieb@volunteerhouston.org.

Questions & Answers

Q. Does the volunteer have to reside in Houston?
A. No. What matters is that the volunteer work for which they would be honored was performed in Houston.

Q. If the volunteer work in question is done in an autonomous municipality (such as the City of Bellaire, West University Place, South Houston, etc.) that is within the geographical city limits of Houston, does the volunteer qualify for nomination?
A. Yes.

Q. Does the organization or institution for which the nominee volunteers have to be a nonprofit entity?
A. No, as long as the volunteer service provided would reasonably be construed as having direct beneficial effect on the well-being of persons in the community or the general quality of life of the community.

Q. Can a person (or group) whose relevant volunteer work is done under the auspices of a church or other religious entity be a candidate for one of the awards?
A. Yes, as long as the volunteer work benefits persons in the community without regard to their religious affiliation. (Thus, someone who volunteers in a typical church pantry for the needy or participates in an after-school tutorial program for neighborhood children would likely be eligible -- providing that the programs in question do not involve religious indoctrination or require membership in a given religious group.)

Q. Can a person who was nominated in a prior year and did not receive an award be nominated again?
A. Most definitely. (And it makes good sense to think that an outstanding nominee who did not receive an award one year would -- all other things being equal -- stand a better chance of receiving the award in a succeeding year. After all, they would probably have added to their record of service in the interim, and their strongest "competitor(s)" -- --- i.e., the person(s) who did receive the award previously -- would no longer be in contention.)

Q. Can a person be nominated in more than one of the eight award categories?
A. Not for the same award year. However, a nominator could choose to nominate the candidate under a different award category in some succeeding year. (Example, Jane Doe is 15 years of age and is nominated in the Education category in 2007 for performing after-school tutoring. Assuming she does not receive the award in 2007, the nominator could elect to nominate her again in 2008 in either -- but not both -- the Education or Youth categories the following year.)

Q. Can a person who has received one of the awards in a prior year be nominated again--perhaps for different achievements in a different category?
A. No, a person can be honored only once, regardless of any category issues-- even though they may have performed an entirely different body of outstanding volunteer service since their past receipt of the award.

We realize that some of the issues raised above may admit of "shades of gray," and there might be borderline cases about which reasonable persons might disagree. In all such cases, discretion in resolving the issues resides with the nomination-screening panel.