At the 2019 Montgomery Serves Awards on April 29, the Volunteer of the Year Award was presented to volunteer Amy Yontef-McGrath by Cheryl Kagan, Maryland State Senator (District 17). Amy accomplished her goal of serving people through her involvement with 50 public service projects as part of her “Follow Me to Fifty” campaign, which have benefited numerous nonprofits in Montgomery County, including Gaithersburg HELP.
Here is the description of Amy’s volunteer experiences from the 2019 Montgomery Serves Awards program on page 11:
“When Amy Yontef-McGrath was 49 years old, she did not take her good life for granted. At almost 50 years old, she saw herself at a mid-life crossroad: as her children prepared to leave home, how would she spend her time? Amy could have taken her new life in many different directions but, instead, she had an unusual “lightbulb moment.”
What if, rather than returning to old passions, she found new ones? A longtime resident of Montgomery County, Amy believed those passions could be discovered by helping others. So she launched a challenge for herself: participate in 50 diverse public service projects before her 50th birthday. She created a website to record her story, and she pledged to blog about each volunteer activity. The culmination of her service would be a three-day, 50-mile walk honoring six charitable organizations. Amy named her campaign “Follow Me to Fifty.”
From August 2017 to August 2018, Amy completed 50 unique volunteer experiences logging over 1,000 hours of service. As the foundation of her Follow Me to Fifty campaign, Amy targeted charities that served people in need, environmental and disaster relief efforts, health and fitness causes, and government organizations and political issues. Sometimes she would spend 40 hours a week at one organization, other weeks she would volunteer for multiple nonprofits.
Amy’s goal to serve people in need was easily fulfilled in Montgomery County. The list of organizations that benefited from Amy’s involvement is long, and includes nonprofits such as Gaithersburg HELP, A Wider Circle, Habitat for Humanity, Bread for the City, Comfort Cases, Main Street Rockville, Mission Clear Water, and the Montgomery County Council Grant Advisory Group.
Amy faithfully blogged about her volunteer activities and shared her “takeaways” to offer insight to each experience and highlight how others can help. Common themes such as “every act makes a difference” and stories of comfort, connection, awareness, and self-reflection were weaved into her words. Amy’s Follow Me to Fifty campaign was more than an obligation to volunteer; rather, she embraced it as an inspiration to volunteer. She now speaks to organizations about her mission, seeks to encourage others to benefit from her experience, and continues to volunteer on an ongoing basis. While the Follow Me to Fifty project may have been born out of her own needs, Amy made an indelible mark on a wide variety of organizations, and her actions illustrate the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Visit Follow Me to 50 to read about Amy’s documented volunteer experiences.