By Mike Kruzman /

The Livingston County United Way honored local volunteers at its annual Spirit of the Community breakfast.

Roughly 200 community members, partners, and supporters of the Livingston County United Way gathered for the event at Crystal Gardens in Genoa Township, this morning. Board President Brian Jonckheere emceed the presentation with help from Executive Director Anne Rennie. Each year, one of the breakfast’s highlights is a skit, with this year’s being “Gearing up for Change,” as members dressed as scientists fed contributions into a machine symbolic of the way the United Way runs and outputs help into the community to foster change.

A testimonial was shared by a beneficiary of the Pathways of Hope Program, and a representative from Work Skills Corporation shared how far their budget from the United Way extends. Following an update on the previous year’s campaign, which included the Day of Caring, Matching Money Monday, and recognizing top partners, it was time to recognize 5 individuals and organizations for going above and beyond.

This year’s Charles W. Itsell Volunteer of the Year is Sherry Randall. Randall was recognized for being a tireless idea creator and strong supporter of the Community Theatre of Howell, Women United, Mentor Livingston, and Day of Caring. Randall said, “I’m humble, because I feel like there are so many that give back to the community, and I’m grateful to be recognized, but feel like there are so many other people deserving as well.” She continued, telling WHMI that she would encourage people thinking about getting involved to do so, because they don’t even know how much, and how enriching volunteering can bring to your own life.

The Donald Epley Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Rena Pomaville, who was nominated by two different people for her longstanding commitment to the community. Pomaville said, “It’s a terrific feeling to teach a person to fish, and that’s what we try to do. It’s not help for a day, it’s help for a lifetime. …Whatever we can do to set people up for success that way is a good thing.”

The Young Person of Distinction award went to 16-year-old Howell High School student and active Boy Scout Joel Rushlow. Rushlow has volunteered for several projects, and has raised $5,000 to support local basic needs through peer donations, can drives, and more. The Brighton High School lacrosse team took home the Youth Organization of the Year honors. They were recognized for their efforts with the Severe Weather Network and Day of Caring, notably for returning to a Day of Caring project site weeks after the event to help the homeowner out even further. Finally, the Randy Rudisill Business of the Year Recognition went to EctoHR, which donates 5% of their profits to non-profits each year, and was said to be a “true partner” with the Livingston County United Way.

To learn more about what the local United Way does, how to participate, or to find an event to volunteer for, visit their website,