Steve Keim, a volunteer project leader for Brethren Disaster Ministries, was named Volunteer of the Year by National VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) on May 8, during the 2012 Annual VOAD Conference in Norfolk, Va.
A second and completely unexpected award, the President’s Volunteer Service Award, was facilitated by Points of Light and presented to Keim by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Then, to top off the award-giving, FLASH (Federal Alliance for Safe Homes) presented him with tickets to Disney World.
The National VOAD Team selected Keim “for exemplifying the core values of the VOAD movement: Coordination, Cooperation, Communication, and Collaboration,”–known as the four Cs. Brethren Disaster Ministries executive director Roy Winter reported that Keim had a standing ovation from the 500-plus people present at the awards ceremony.
The ovation was well deserved. Since the beginning of last year, Keim has served 349 days at Church of the Brethren disaster recovery projects in Indiana, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Alabama. While serving in his leadership role with Brethren Disaster Ministries, he consistently embodies the “4 Cs” of National VOAD in his relations with clients, partner agencies, local businesses, building inspectors, local churches, and disaster volunteers.
“Steve understands the value of volunteers, and he always ensures that each volunteer, regardless of skill level or background, is made a part of the team,” said Zach Wolgemuth, associate director of Brethren Disaster Ministries. “He makes safety a priority and provides proper training, directions, and appropriate work.”
Building inspectors have been impressed by the quality of work done by volunteer crews under Keim’s leadership. “Inspectors would comment about how great it was to work with groups that constructed to code and wanted homes to be built correctly,” said Wolgemuth.
Lisa Warren, who is president for the Marshall County VOAD and recently worked with Keim in Arab, Ala., said she “has heard nothing but good things from all the clients he had been working with. Steve goes out of his way to do extra things for the clients and treats them all with the utmost respect possible.” One disaster survivor affirmed Keim is an “instrument of God’s hands for the edification of the church and the betterment of the world.”
What does Keim make of all the excitement? He admits, “I don’t deal well with fussing, especially about me.” He prefers to be an “invisible force behind things,” adding that “it’s all about the volunteers.”
Nonetheless, “Steve is a truly deserving candidate for the National VOAD President’s Award,” said Wolgemuth, who had nominated Keim for the award. “He has proven to be an invaluable volunteer with an unquenchable passion and dedication to service.”
— Jane Yount is coordinator for Brethren Disaster Ministries.