Most Treasured Volunteer Award

Celebrating Volunteers in Greater Cleveland’s Health and Social Services Community

This year’s Most Treasured Volunteer Awards are co-sponsored by ideastream!

We would like to congratulate this year’s Most Treasured Volunteer award winners!


Mayia Allen, Slavic Village Development

Mayia is a single mom with health issues raising four kind, smart and hard-working daughters who also have health issues. On top of that, for five years, she has volunteered as a cheer coach, tutor, role model and second mom to dozens of little girls in the Slavic Village community. Through cheer, she teaches about dedication, friendship and other valuable life lessons. She uses her own money, applies for grants and leads fundraisers for uniforms and travel. For many girls, cheer travel is their first time ever leaving the city. She models the volunteer spirit and instills it in others by requiring the girls to participate in community service projects with her. Mayia is an unsung hero who gives of herself and her limited resources without hesitation.


Robert Allen, Cleveland Clinic Minority Men’s Health Center

During the past 20 years, more than 35,000 predominantly minority men have benefitted from Robert’s volunteerism. When he heard years ago about a plan to create a new program at the Cleveland Clinic to address health disparities that disproportionately afflict men of color, he immediately volunteered to help. He was instrumental in developing the community outreach arm of the Minority Men’s Health Fair and the Minority Men’s Health Center—and keeping them both running. As a result, thousands of men who, by their own admission, might not have attended a health fair or visited a clinic, have been diagnosed with serious health conditions. Robert has dedicated his adult life to helping others. He feels it is his calling, a call he answers by promoting preventive health and wellness especially in the African-American community.


Susan Becker, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Susan has played a role in every one of the ACLU’s hundreds of Ohio legal victories over the past 23 years. But she has never been an employee. Susan was a distinguished law professor who also maintained a generous pro bono practice, and since her retirement five year ago, she has volunteered almost full-time as the ACLU’s general counsel. She has been a pioneer for women and LGBTQ people in the field of law, and has given special attention to advancing LGBTQ protections in employment, housing and public accommodations. Susan always has the best interests of the organization in mind, but in her heart, she is working to find justice for people who have been injured in some way.

Carol Ponting, Long-term Care Ombudsman

Carol is an ombudsman for residents in nursing homes, assisted living and group homes, and for more than 12 years she has stood up especially for those who have no family or others to advocate on their behalf. Sometimes they just need someone to confide in. Carol is that someone. She does whatever she can to resolve concerns on the spot, even if it’s just by listening and making them feel empowered. She then follows up by advocating on their behalf with facility staff. Carol uses her experience as a therapist to work with all types of people and her consistency and kindness lets patients know that someone cares and somehow their concerns will be addressed.


Herbert Werner, The MetroHealth System

Herb was partially paralyzed in 2007 by an accident at his home which required a long journey of healing and rehab. More than a year later, he realized he wanted to use his experience to help others. So, each week in MetroHealth’s therapy gym, while physical therapists work on muscles and bodies, Herb works on the hearts and minds of the other patients. He’s honest about the challenges and uncertainties he’s experienced but hopeful about the future. He reminds patients that they are still the same people they were the day before their illness or injury, and lets them know about unique opportunities that may be ahead for them. Herb plays the role of both “mirror and time machine” for people who have suffered severe and debilitating injuries. He is also working with the hospital to create a fully-accessible outdoor therapy garden for patients to remember all the simple joys in life. Herb helps build confidence and keep hope alive.


Previous Winners