Heart of Gold Award honors volunteer service

The LaGrange County Community Foundation’s Heart of Gold Award shines the spotlight on community residents passionate about making a difference.

The Community Foundation received nine nominations for the annual Heart of Gold Award, each with their own inspiring story of service and volunteerism. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the award.

All nominees will be recognized at the Community Foundation’s Annual Celebration on June 13 at the Farmstead Inn & Conference Center in Shipshewana.

The 2024 Heart of Gold nominees include:

Andy Linder
  • Andy Linder of Mongo. Andy is president of the LaGrange County Chamber of Commerce, the president of the Mongo Community Development Association, and on the board of directors for the LaGrange County Convention and Visitors Bureau.  “Andy’s unwavering dedication to serving others, his transformative leadership, and his ability to inspire those around him make him an exemplary candidate for the Heart of Gold Award,” wrote his nominator.
Brett Bateman
  • Brett Bateman of Howe. Brett has been instrumental in building the baseball and softball complex at Spreuer Park in LaGrange, organizing each baseball season, and scheduling leagues, coaches, fundraising, and more. Brett is the president of the LaGrange Baseball League and serves on the board of LaGrange Communities Youth Centers. “He has over the top dedication to the youth of LaGrange County,” wrote his nominator.
David Hostetler
  • David Hostetler of Shipshewana. David served as a volunteer firefighter for 25 years. Twelve of those years he served as Captain for the Shipshewana Volunteer Fire Department. He also serves as a church trustee and fills other leadership roles in his church. He and his family have also opened their home to nine foreign exchange students. “His story is always valiant and heroic, even though he will say it isn’t so. And that the same story is sometimes jubilant, sometimes incredibly heartbreaking, and always sacrificial,” wrote his nominator.
Jean Martin in front of one of the ribbon walls at her arena
  • Jean Martin of Shipshewana. Jean has been influential in the equestrian community. She runs Fox Run Stables, offering lessons, camps, boarding and other horse related activities for children and adults. For the past 14 years, she has coached the Interscholastic Equestrian Association teams. She also serves as the regional president for both the IEA Hunt Seat and Dressage programs. During the summer months, she helps prepare riders for 4-H and summer shows. “Jean thoroughly enjoys working with riders, and her passion and enjoyment for horses is evident to everyone she helps,” wrote her nominator.
Jenny Landez
  • Jenny Landez of Wolcottville. Jenny is a member of Tri Kappa, board member for Northeastern Center, and the board president of Main Street LaGrange. She is a Gallups Strengths coach training, working with high school students. She also helps with athletic events, coaching and fundraising for Lakeland schools. “Over the many years I have known Jenny, she has always given 100% to everything she did,” wrote Landez’s nominator.
Karen Reinking at Ark Animal Shelter
  • Karen Reinking of Wolcottville. Karen is a board member and custodian at her church, shovels snow for her neighbors, volunteers at both Ark Animal Shelter and bookstore, as well as fundraising for Ark.  Her nominator said: “(She is) someone who cares about others, is willing to do when necessary, what needs to be done. Not wanting acknowledgement. Not seeking whistles, bells or sirens. Just doing it.”
Kent Andrews
  • Kent Andrews of Howe. Kent has been a volunteer firefighter for 40 years in Howe with a heart for serving his community. He helps elderly neighbors in Howe all seasons with mowing, raking leaving, and snow removal for no cost. Recently, Kent helped build and install a Free Little Library in the town park. His nominator wrote, “Kent helps anyone who needs help even before being asked. Kent is always helpful, civic minded, trustworthy.”
Laura Hartman
  • Laura Hartman of LaGrange.  Laura has been instrumental in keeping the Lighthouse Ministry going at Pioneer Crossing in Howe, through weekly meetings and special events. She has also been a helper to the people in the community in times when there have been frozen pipes or people just need someone to talk to. Her nominator wrote: “Laura will be the first to tell you she can’t do it on her own or even want any praise when it comes to the mission. She sees the needs and fills them. It’s who she is.”
Madison Bateman and students at Wolcott Mills School
  • Madison Bateman of Howe. Madison runs a cardio exercise program for adults, coaches
    T-ball, serves as the Tri Kappa assistant treasurer and volunteers on several Tri Kappa committees. She is a Lakeland Primary PTO officer and runs the Sunshine Project at Lakeland. Her nominator wrote: “Madison is deserving of recognition. Her heart truly is generous and golden and worthy of recognition.”

In selecting the award recipient, the award committee considers nominees who share their time and sake for others, render a service that changes lives, work to create positive change, inspire others to volunteer and more.

All nominees are eligible to make a $500 grant to the LaGrange County nonprofit of their choice in their name; the award recipient is eligible to make a $1,000 grant.

“All of the nominees represent and embody the spirit of philanthropy in LaGrange County. We are thankful for their service and devotion to meeting the needs in LaGrange County. No act of kindness is too small and we appreciate the ways each of nominees have shared their time for the sake of others,” said Executive Director Octavia Yoder.

Registration for the Annual Celebration is open through June 5 at Lccf.net/2024-Annual-Celebration.