John Wirch, a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Wisconsin, was named as the 2003 Community Quarterback Award winner Wednesday by the Green Bay Packers.
A volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past six years as a board member, Wirch's tenure included serving the past two years as board president. He applied his professional experience in the human resources field to search for a new executive director -- only the second such search for Big Brothers Big Sisters in its 32-year history.
Wirch has continued to provide his professional experience to the three leadership members that lead the agency through the transition period. He has been described by the agency staff as 'sincere, caring, highly professional, dedicated, helpful and humble.'
His behind-the-scenes work with policies and fundraising makes it possible for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northeastern Wisconsin to serve over 400 matches per year. He has emerged as a leader who has indeed seized the opportunity to change things for the better.
By receiving Wednesday's honor, Wirch and Big Brothers Big Sisters were presented with a $10,000 grant from the NFL and PARADE Magazine, in addition to $2,000 for being named a finalist for the award. He was nominated by Ellen Evensen.
"It's just a great feeling to be recognized for what I think any citizen should do, and that's contribute," Wirch said. "The money that the Packers awarded will be used for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and will be directly involved in helping kids.
"Every year we increase the number of youth that we serve and every dollar that comes into the agency is used just for that purpose, to serve the kids."
Wirch is now eligible to receive the NFL's national Community Quarterback Award and a $25,000 grant, presented to one of the league's 32 local winners and his/her charity.
"I really appreciate the Packers and the NFL," he said. "It's just wonderful that you give back to the community like this. This will help us as we do such a great job in our community mentoring youth, and I can't think of a better thing to do than spend time helping youth develop into productive citizens."
This year's winners will be announced in PARADE Magazine on Super Bowl Sunday. Go to www.parade.com to find out which newspapers in your area carry PARADE.
In addition to Wirch's award, four other individuals that were named as finalists received $2,000 grants for their organizations.
The four other finalists for the award and their affiliations are as follows:
Bill Barcome - St. Vincent de Paul Society, Green Bay, Wis. (Nominated by Patricia Maufort)
Tony Chakonas - Camp Heartland Project, Inc., Milwaukee, Wis. (Nominated by Isabel Sellers)
Joe Covelli - River Falls (Wis.) First Responders (Nominated by Kent Christensen)
Nancy Kindt - Center for Blind & Visually Impaired Children, Milwaukee, Wis. (Nominated by Linda Bell)
Funded by the NFL and PARADE Magazine, the PARADE/NFL Community Quarterback Award recognizes community and youth volunteers who demonstrate leadership, dedication and a commitment to bettering their communities. The nomination process is fulfilled by charitable organizations that nominate their distinguished volunteers, and a selection committee then is appointed by each NFL team to select its finalists and winner.