2017 Golden Hoosier Award

 2017 Award Winners

The Golden Hoosier Award was established to acknowledge and recognize outstanding seniors for their lifetime of service to their communities.

Sponsored by Indiana Lieutenant Governor in  partnership with the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the Golden Hoosier Award is the highest honor bestowed on a senior citizen in Indiana.



Mary Adams | Hobart
Nominated by Teresa Pedroza

Mary Adams has been a dedicated volunteer to several organizations in her community for over 40 years. She has volunteered with St. Mary Medical Center for over 23 years. Her roles there included chairing the Breakfast with Santa event, volunteering in the Pastoral Care Office and helping at its information desk. She is also currently a lector at St. Bridget Catholic Church where she has been a member all her life. Mary never shies away from doing physical work either, often spending hours sorting, packing and distributing food at the Hobart Food Pantry, where she has volunteered for over 33 years and currently serves as the vice president. She also spent over 20 years as Secretary of St. Vincent De Paul and served as president of St. Ann’s Confraternity. Mary is an outstanding member of her community and received the Citizen of the Year award from the city of Hobart in 2004, in appreciation of her lifelong service.



Jinsie Bingham | Greencastle
Nominated by Gloria Wetnight

Jinsie Bingham has an exhaustive resume of volunteer service that spans decades. Her service includes volunteerism at dozens of organizations including Greencastle City Council, Greencastle Chamber of Commerce and the West Central Indiana Economic Development District’s Board of Directors. The goal of her service has been to build a strong, vibrant community. “It has been an honor to serve and the people I’ve met have greatly enriched my life,” she said. Jinsie also broke ground by becoming the first woman in Indiana to own and operate a commercial radio station. She received the Citizen of the Year award from the Chamber of Commerce in 1994 in recognition of her passion and dedication to her community.



Roseann Cogdill | Lawrenceville, IL
Nominated by Patty Dreiman

Roseann Cogdill is a dedicated volunteer for the Generations Area 13 Agency on Aging. She has logged nearly 2,300 volunteer hours in her 5 years of service with Generations alone. Roseann serves her community in numerous capacities. She is a member of the Volunteer Advisory Council, an organization that provides vision screenings to children. Additionally, she also assists with the Expired, Unused and Unwanted Drug Toss program collection days in the community. However, Roseann’s true passion is serving through sewing. Her donations include diverse items like chemo caps for cancer patients, port covers for cardiac patients, angel gowns for stillborn children and pet pads for the local animal shelter. Her impact leaves a lasting touch to so many people in her community..



Janet Compton | Flatrock
Nominated by Ralanda Whitaker

When Janet Compton retired she did not slow down. She went full force into volunteering for the people of Shelby County. Janet participates in many well-known programs like Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity and the Salvation Army. In addition, she leads children’s church programs, teaches arts at pioneer craft fairs and is on the library board. Janet is also the chair of the committee for mission trips and has personally gone on at least 20 mission trips herself to serve outside of her community. The list of Janet’s involvement is long and diverse because Janet always selflessly steps up and does what is required when she sees a need in her community or throughout the world



Bob Dwenger | Rushville
Nominated by Tony Foster

Bob Dwenger is a dedicated member of his community. Bob serves as a foster grandparent at St. Mary’s School through tutoring, providing supervision and being a role model for the children every day. He also visits nursing home residents weekly, works at the local food pantry, assists veterans with transportation and is a friend to the homebound in his community through the Homebound Citizens program. Bob is dedicated to service and is a Trustee of the Knights of Columbus and has been appointed extraordinary minister of Holy Communion at St. Mary’s Church. He is known as humble, honest, sincere and selfless. Bob has touched lives spanning all generations of his community and is always there to lend a helping hand to those in need.



Paul Filter | Dillsboro
Nominated by Susan D. Greco

Paul Filter is the type of person that sees a need in the community and steps up. He has been saving lives his entire career and has received such prestigious awards for these efforts as the Martin A. Werner 9th District American Legion Firefighter of the Year and the Indiana State Fire Marshall Award for 32 years of dedicated service to the Dillsboro Volunteer Fire Department. He has also been recognized as a Chamber of Commerce community leader and received the Syrian Shrine Organization leadership award. Paul moved to Dillsboro in 1971 and purchased the local funeral home, which became the dispatch center for local emergency calls. Since the 70s, Paul has been a dispatcher for he life squad and fire department. He is still the "go to" person in the community. If you need something done, and someone reliable to do it, the community looks to him. Paul has the type of energetic personality that spreads and gets others excited to be involved in community projects.



Nola Gartin | Petersburg
Nominated by R.C. Klipsch

Mayor R.C. Klipsch accepting on behalf of Nola Gartin.

Nola Gartin is the director and only employee of the Pike Animal Welfare Shelter (PAWS), which the mayor affectionately calls “Nola’s facility.” She has volunteered every single day to manage the shelter since its creation nearly 30 years ago. Nola has done all the caring for the animals, many times at her own expense and through local donations she works to collect. Neither the city nor the county has an animal control center, so “Nola's facility” is always at full capacity. The shelter has a no kill policy for the animals, so all are placed in homes or remain at the facility for the duration of their lives or until they are adopted. The community depends upon her kindness and love for animals and, without her, the town and animals would suffer.  The community has relied on Nola’s caring attitude and dedication to manage this public safety issue for many years.



Judy Harrell | Wheatland
Nominated by Patty Dreiman

Judy Harrell is a volunteer for the Generations Area 13 Agency on Aging. She is a retired teacher and a dedicated tutor with the Kids Read program where she assists teachers by working with individual children on special requests. Judy is also a member of the Volunteer Advisory Council and assists in fundraising and volunteer drives. She is always looking for ways to help others and uses all her skills to give back. She also sews chemo caps, port covers, angel gowns and pet pads. Judy is a staple at the annual back to school event at Walnut Grove Methodist Church as well as the disability awareness day, little elves workshop and children’s vision screenings at South Knox Elementary. Judy is so involved with the children of South Knox Elementary School that they presented her an award for outstanding volunteer service. Her impact will be seen in her community for generations to come.




Jackson Higgins | Mount Vernon
Nominated by Becky Higgins

Jackson Higgins was the mayor of Mount Vernon for 32 years. After retiring from politics, he became, and still is, an active volunteer for many non-profit organizations in his community. Jackson has volunteered his time and services for the United Way and American Red Cross for over 20 years and Kiwanis for 60 years. One of his favorite volunteer activities is to be an announcer at local high school track meets and basketball and football games. He has been performing this task since he was 19, for a total of 63 years. Jackson is a great example that you can give back to your community at any age!




Larry Isch | Decatur
Nominated by Melissa Norby

Larry Isch, a retired banker, has spent over 25 years volunteering for his community. Not only does he take it upon himself to assist elderly neighbors in running errands and visiting the doctor, but he also is seen in many of the committee meetings around town. Larry provides guidance on property acquisitions for the city, volunteers on the Decatur Redevelopment Commission and Decatur Plan Commission and is part of the Decatur Hometown Collaboration Initiative team. He is also the president of the Decatur-Adams County Park Board where he strives to enhance the quality of life of residents by providing excellent recreation opportunities. Larry has been named an Indiana Main Street Volunteer of the Year for his contribution to the creation of the Decatur Main Street program.




Mary Lackore | Middlebury
Nominated by Tim DeLuca

Mary Lackore has been involved in her community for most of her adult life. A majority of her free time is spent helping and serving those less fortunate than herself. Mary is a teacher for Literacy Volunteers of America; a laborer for Habitat for Humanity; a teacher for English As A Second Language; a server/setup coordinator at Real Meals; a counselor/teacher at United Way Reading Camps and a fundraiser for Middlebury Food Pantry and Middlebury Boys and Girls Club. She has a continuously giving nature and is always looking for way to serve others. Mary is a true inspiration to us all!




Gladys Muhammad | South Bend
Nominated by Pam Harris

Gladys Muhammad has long served the underprivileged in her community. She began volunteering in the South Bend community at the age of 16 and has made it her personal mission to serve those in need. Gladys founded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Foundation over 20 years ago as well as the United Community Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse program, both of which she is still active with. It is impossible to list the dozens of committees, initiatives and events Gladys has participated in or led. She has been commended by congressmen, governors and mayors and recognized for her service on no less than 30 separate occasions by the organizations and communities that she serves. Gladys has continued to be a champion for social justice through her own service and by providing platforms for others in the community to give back as well. She says, “I was born to give back to the community in which I live and so I do so with a grateful heart.”




Donna Schroeder | Glenwood
Nominated by Tony Foster

For the past 30 years, Donna Schroeder has spent countless hours devoting her time to preserving the history of her community and helping her neighbors in need. She is the president of Historic Connersville, chair of the Connersville Bicentennial Committee and president of the Fayette County Tourism Bureau as well as a member of several other community groups and events. Donna also co-founded the first mini 4-H club in the county. She has also been an avid advocate for victims of crime and foster children in her community ensuring the most vulnerable of her community have a voice. Donna’s commitment to her neighbors and pride in her community shines through in her advocacy and tireless work for Fayette County.



Kanwal Prakash Singh | Indianapolis
Nominated by Robbie Singh

Kanwal Prakash Singh has spent nearly 50 years dedicated to improving his city. He is currently a member of the IMPD Police Civilian Merit Board and Asia America Alliance as well as a founding member of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, the International Center and Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis. Kanwal has focused on education, communication and fostering a greater understanding of others within his community. He has developed cultural training programs for law enforcement, advocated for cultural and historical architecture preservation and provided resources for recent immigrants. Because of Kanwal’s work, his community has seen increased support for and acceptance of Asian culture. The impact of his work will be seen for years to come.




Dorothy Sisson | Brownsburg
Nominated by Dustin Ziegler

For the past 20 years, Dorothy Sisson has completed thousands of hours of volunteer work for her community. She tirelessly volunteers at Alpha Transitional Care providing support to family members, assisting the bereaved and leading fundraising events. Dorothy also works behind the scenes providing administrative support to the staff. Additionally, she cares for the elderly residents at St. Augustine’s Home by playing music for events, serving meals, taking residents on trips and spending meaningful time with them. Dorothy has also been a trained volunteer with Therapets, taking therapy dogs to St. Vincent, Peyton Manning Children’s Hospital, nursing homes and hospice and is now a volunteer for Misty Eyes Animal Center. Her work has touched countless lives, often assisting people at their most vulnerable time of life. Dorothy’s commitment and compassion will be a lasting impact on those she has helped.




Dana Snider | Middlebury
Nominated by Tim DeLuca

Dana Snider began volunteering nearly 70 years ago with the Heifer Crop Project and has had a lifelong passion for his community. His focus has been enriching his community by volunteering on park boards, trail development, tree planting and community outreach. Always one to answer the call for help, Dana has participated in natural disaster relief projects throughout the nation as a group leader and builder. He is also a Middlebury Church of the Brethren disaster relief organizer. From fundraising, public speaking and raising calves, Dana steps up to do what the community needs most and leads with a quiet determination. He says, “Most people don’t know what is possible until we try,” so he inspires others by doing to show what can be accomplished if you simply try.




Ramona Wilkinson | Rushville
Nominated by Tony Foster

Ramona is passionate about things that bring her community together and so, after retirement, she continues to work and advocate for those around her. For over 25 years, she has worn many hats and pitched in where needed. Ramona serves on numerous boards throughout her community, is an active member of several groups at her church and is a member of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority. She is a tutor at Rushville Elementary School and a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children. Ramona also assists the Rush County Chorale, the Rush County Players and the Heart of Rushville in the promotion and preservation of arts in the community, ensuring all generations will have access to great music, theater and literature.




William Willis | West Baden Springs
Nominated by Pauline Corley

William (Bill) Willis serves the French Lick/West Baden community in many ways. He founded WFLQ Radio in 1983, the only local radio station that currently provides valuable updates on weather and news that many citizens could not get elsewhere. In addition to being owner and general manager of the station, Bill is involved in the Lions Club providing glasses for the needy and student dictionaries to elementary students. He organized “Liberty Day Indiana” in 2000 and continues as state chairman providing constitution programs and booklets for 8th and 11th grade students throughout the state. Bill has been a Gideon for 33 years, placing bibles in hotels and motels. He currently serves as ROA (Department of the Reserve Officers Association) Congressional Affairs Chair working to assure a strong national defense. Bill exemplifies the qualities of an outstanding citizen in all that he does for his community and the state of Indiana.



Dorothy Wiekamp | Mishawaka
Nominated by Pamela A. Harris

Dorothy Wiekamp spent 81 years of her life volunteering time, effort and money to countless organizations and causes in St. Joseph County. She chaired and was active in many committees. Dorothy’s philanthropic efforts began when she and her late husband saw how many small business owners and women could not get loans from big banks. As a result, they established a bank to help people realize their dreams. Additionally, Dorothy established a foundation to give tangible assistance to people, agencies, educational institutions and health care systems. She had one goal to “just help others.” Dorothy recently passed away at the age of 103. Although she is not with us today, the impact of her efforts will continue for decades to come in the St. Joseph community.




Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers Award

 Ramps to Freedom | Columbus
Nominated by Kashmira Mehta

In April 2012, a dedicated team of volunteers started building access ramps for homebound individuals with physical limitations who needed safe access into and out of their homes. This group, called Ramps to Freedom, was created by Thrive Alliance. The well-oiled team usually completes a ramp in one day. Volunteers bring their own tools and lunch, and are usually at the ramp site as early as 7 a.m. It is not unusual to see a team member as old as 80 years pick up heavy logs and do what is needed to get the job done. The team’s only goal and purpose is to see a smile on someone’s face after the ramp is built. According to one volunteer, “One of the big reasons we are greater than the sum of our parts is because nobody is in this for personal recognition. All of us truly want to ensure that homebound folks are given the opportunity for increased social engagement with their families, church and community.”