Village Project announces 2023 honorees

Holly and Ed Colleran

On March 25, 2023, Village Project hosted our annual fundraising gala Nourish and recognized our 2023 award honorees. These awards are given to those that go above and beyond and show an incredible dedication for Village Project and supporting our mission of working together as a community to provide nourishing meals and support for families fighting cancer.

“We have so many amazing people who touch this organization daily and I wish we could honor each and every one of them,” says Executive Director Meredith La Vecchia. “However, this year, we are pleased to honor Holly Colleran as Adult Volunteer of the Year, Liz Lis as Student Volunteer of the Year, and the Bay Village Foundation for the Community Partnership Award.” 

Adult Volunteer of the Year - Holly Colleran

Holly Colleran has been a Village Project volunteer pretty much since our beginning and has logged over 900 volunteer hours! “I remember hearing about a nonprofit that provided healthy meals to our neighbors experiencing cancer and going to the first informational meeting at Bay Presbyterian in 2011. I love to cook and I love the community feeling, so it was a great fit,” says Holly.

“Village Project speaks to me in so many ways,” Holly adds. “I enjoy the people and I know it helps people who are struggling. I also love how much this benefits the youth who volunteer here, including my son. He was just starting high school and was looking for something he could be involved in. He really enjoyed it and now he’s a great cook!” 

Holly’s been involved in a variety of areas at Village Project ranging from overseeing our Green Apron program and scheduling the student cooks – a job that is always changing with the students' busy schedules. She is also always willing to help with decorating for our major fundraising events like Nourish. “I love to see how Village Project has grown. We went from serving one set of meals that were delivered once a week to delivering three meals and a dessert. Now we have Nourish, Village Project Market, participating at the BAYarts Thursday Market and so much more!” Holly adds.

She also sees how it directly helps our clients. “It’s so much more than making meals. I had a relative who went through cancer. She was a young mother with small children,” says Holly. “She called me crying and said I got food and a card and flowers! She thought she was going to have to feed her kids pizza every night. It was very touching.”

Holly says, “I’m honored to be part of Village Project, it’s so meaningful to bring services to families experiencing cancer, and the volunteer opportunities it provides for people of all ages is remarkable.”

Student Volunteer of the Year - Elizabeth Lis

Liz is a 2023 graduate from Bay High School and was involved in a variety of activities including Sources of Strength, Youth Philanthropic Foundation and Key Club. She started volunteering at Village Project in April of 2022. Liz quickly earned her Green Apron and continues to volunteer one to two times per week. 

“In the past, I thought that volunteering was more of a chore, but then I discovered Village Project. I truly enjoyed it!” says Liz. “I think that Village Project is a wonderful cause that is really helping people’s lives, including my own.”

Liz has learned cooking skills and nutrition facts while making recipes in the Village Project kitchen. She realized how making meals for others aligns with her personal philosophy and life dedication to care for the wellness of others. She says, “Not only does the Village Project take away the worry of cooking a meal, but it also lets cancer patients know that their community is there for them. Village Project has helped nurture my idea of what I want my future to look like, and this is being there for my future patients.”

This fall, Liz will be attending The Ohio State University and is excited about her future plans of going to medical school.  

Community Partnership Award - Bay Village Foundation

The Bay Village Foundation exists to provide support for projects, programs and scholarships fostering Bay Village’s historical, cultural, social and educational heritage. Through the Bay Village Foundation, residents and businesses are encouraged to perpetuate the traditions that make Bay Village a special place to live, work and play. Their story began in 1995 when a group of civic-minded volunteers established a fund to help the city build a playground through a project called Play in Bay. Seeing this collaborative effort succeed, a small group decided to see what they could do to develop a community fund that would be there when another project like Play in Bay is envisioned.

Under the leadership of T. Richard “Dick” Martin, they began creating one organization to which all the others could look for financial help. This organization is now called the Bay Village Foundation. Since 2002, the foundation has awarded scholarships to 48 Bay High seniors totaling more than $90,000. They have awarded over $100,000 to more than 25 local non-profit organizations, serving the community and its citizens.

Meredith concludes, “We couldn’t do what we do – feeding families fighting cancer – without the amazing support of our volunteers and community!” 

Lisa McDanels

Executive Operations Director at Village Project

Read More on Community Service
Volume 15, Issue 12, Posted 9:18 AM, 07.05.2023