Donielle Routt - 2019 Volunteer of the Year!
Currently, Muskegon County ranks 68 out of 83 of Michigan counties in terms of health. It is clear that health is one of the most important and pressing issues in our communities. There are several agencies and volunteers that help fund healthier initiatives in Muskegon County, but there is one volunteer who stands out above anyone else: Donielle Routt. Donielle is the organizer of not one, but THREE race events throughout the year in Muskegon County each impacting the community in different ways. She has been doing this for 13 years, and between the three races has volunteered over 2,500 hours alone.
The Run for Wings event was started in 2003 where runners raise money for the Wings of Mercy agency. This is a nonprofit volunteer pilot organization that is dedicated to providing access to free, private plane transportation for medical patients with low/limited disposable income. Since the race was started, Donielle has been the director of the race, managing the logistics of the course, the advertisement to runners, the volunteer registration, the racer registration, and the fundraising. It is hard to believe, but Donielle has done the same amount of work for the Turkey Trot where she has been the director since 2013. The Turkey Trot raises funds to supply the local food pantries in our community. Later through her work at the United Way of the Lakeshore, Donielle helped planned and coordinate the bicycle race called Ride United, which has helped several different health initiatives including smoking succession, bikes for youth, bike trail improvement, and several safety courses.
All of Donielle’s hours in the community with these races are only a sliver of her volunteer service hours. As a parent, Donielle has spent her daughter’s lifetime empowering and mentoring small girls into being confident young women. As a Girl Scout Troop Leader, she served as a role model teaching her troop life skills and demonstrated the spirit of service. She also volunteered with Destination Imagination. Here, she engaged youth to complete challenges, explore their creativity, communicate better, and build their overall confidence. Not only did she lead the youth, but was successful enough to take her group to state 3 years in a row.
On top of mentorship, Donielle also helps educate people. Since 2005, she has served on the Board of the Gillet Nature Association which provides educational programming in environmental studies at Hoffmaster State Park. She has also served at the United Way of the Lakeshore since 2003 in various roles as a Loaned Executive spreading the awareness of the impact of the organization, as an Employee Campaign Coordinator which brings involvement and service to her workplace, as a Community Investment Panelist who helps decide where millions of dollars should be spent in local agencies, and served on the Ride United Committee.
Donielle continues to inspire those around her. She is often the first person to jump on a new project and spread the cheer of service to everyone she meets. She is one of the few people as an organization that we know who takes more than a week of personal vacation to volunteer. She is humble, and is not the one to look for recognition but rather looks for the satisfaction of the success that others have. That success comes from the runner who may have completed their first race, the family who’s sick child is safely transported to a far away hospital, the person who goes to the food pantry with empty cupboards and returns with them full, and the young child that has decided that they too will make a difference in their community.