RACINE — Kathryn Hart was recently awarded the Molina Healthcare’s Community Champions Award during a reception in her honor at Southern Local School Health clinic.
A graduate of Southern High School, she and her husband, Dale, have been residents since they returned to the community in 1977 when he retired from the military.
The Molina Healthcare’s Community Champions Award program was created in 2006 to honor the memory of the healthcare’s founder, Dr. C. David Molina, who believed that community partners working together could create programs to help care for people who are most vulnerable.
Each year, Champions Awards are given to volunteers who work in their communities and “inspire others through their selflessness, extraordinary service and contributions that positively affect the lives of those around them.”
Community Champions are nominated by community-based organizations and winners are selected by an independent panel of judges who review the applications. While reviewing, they use criteria that includes the nominee’s overall community contributions and achievements or qualities that show a commitment to serving those in need. The application must also demonstrate how the nominee has had a positive influence on the community.
Winners receive a Community Champions trophy and a $1,000 grant that they designate to an organization of their choice.
According to Molina Healthcare, this is a way to “pay it forward” in the community because the grants frequently enable local community organizations to provide resources to serve those most vulnerable.
The Racine Area Community Organization nominated Hart in recognition of her work in the Racine community. Hart has been president of RACO since its founding in 1992. During her tenure, she has organized events, including food drives and volunteers for the Meigs County Fair.
Perhaps her biggest contribution has been her effort at establishing a scholarship fund for Southern Local School District’s high school graduates. She, along with other like-minded individuals in the community, have been able to increase the scholarship amount each year. What began with $400 in scholarships in 1993 has grown into this year’s presentation of $24,200.
As a board member of Star Mill Park in Racine Village, she has spearheaded many fundraisers that have led to improvements to the park.
Star Mill Park is the venue for Racine’s Party in the Park, of which Hart is also a board member. Party in the Park is a family-oriented festival that features entertainment, amusement park rides, food and crafts that has become a huge event in the village for the past 11 years. Board members attest that without Hart’s contributions, Party in the Park would not have become the successful three-day affair it is today.
Hart and her husband are members of the Racine American Legion, where they assist in hosting dinners that support veterans. The pair are also active volunteers at Legion events.
Bethany United Methodist Church officials say they believe strongly in supporting their community, and their efforts have benefited from Hart’s assistance in organizing fundraisers to benefit local projects.
Hart also assists with Sonshine Circle, which is a group of people who bring some sunshine to those around them by preparing packages for soldiers, holding food drives for local food pantries and delivering “Baskets of Joy” to those who remain in their homes around Christmas time. The Circle makes certain no kindergartner or first grader at Southern Elementary is without milk with their “milk and cookies” time each day during the school year. Members, including Hart, personally sign hundreds of cards of encouragement each year for those in need of inspiration or kindness.
She is on the Friends of the Library Board and volunteers her time with efforts at sales and other events at the library.
Hart credits her “teammates” for being able to accomplish so many things in the Racine area. She notes that they have volunteered many hours of their time on numerous projects over the years, and hopes that she has been a good influence to others so that they may go and serve their community.
There is agreement in Racine Village that without Hart’s leadership, organization and tremendous energy, many ideas would not have become successful realities without her input.
Contact Lorna Hart at 740-992-2155 Ext. 2551.