Celebrating 15 Years of Enriching Our Community

Heart of Gold Awards

heart of gold logoDo you know a volunteer in Rusk County who goes above and beyond to make a positive impact? If so, you need to nominate them for the Rusk County Community Foundation’s Heart of Gold award!

This annual event, hosted by the Foundation, seeks to recognize an everyday hero who quietly goes about making our community a better place.

The nomination form is easy to fill out online, or pick up a form at Ladysmith area banks or the Rusk County Community Library. Or, call 715-532-0772 and we will mail you one.

The best part of this award is that the finalist will select the Rusk County nonprofit of their choice to receive a $1,000 grant in their honor.

Help us put the spotlight on that special volunteer that is working in our midst to make Rusk County an even better place to call home.

Previous winners or Foundation board members are not eligible for nomination.

2021 Recipient

Diana Verdegan has been married to Larry Verdegan for 46 years. They have two children, Kelly and Kim. Kelly has two children, Jacob and Brooke. Kim lives at home with her parents. Diana is a LPN and worked as a nurse until Kim was born in 1985. She coordinated the Rusk County Birth to 3 Program for 25 years and also worked with families who have school age children with special needs. After retiring, Diana has enjoyed spending time with family. She likes to garden, vegetables and flowers. She spent a few years on the Rusk County Community Foundation Board and the Flambeau Forever Foundation Board. Has also volunteered in classrooms at the Flambeau School. She currently coordinates the Red Cross Blood Drives at St. Anthony’s in Tony.

Donna W

2020 Recipient

Donna Wishowski is the 2020 Heart of Gold recipient, the first time that the Foundation honored someone posthumously. Donna passed away just a few months before the event, and our Board of Directors wanted her family to know how much she was loved and appreciated as a shining star in our community. To summarize, Donna knew life was a gift to be enjoyed, appreciated, and shared. We will never know of all the lives she has touched or all of the other examples of her generosity and love toward friend and stranger alike. You can read more about Donna in the 2020 Report to the Community brochure (pdf).

To help the Board of Selectors fully appreciate your nominee’s efforts, you may find the following suggestions helpful in filling out the nomination form.
• Please state the reasons why this person fits the description of having a “Heart of Gold.”
• Be sure to address the concerns listed below as “Selection Criteria.”
• Please type or write clearly. However, this is not an essay contest—no points are given for the style of this narrative.
• Please note that your narrative should be suitable for public audience and may be made available to local newspapers.

The Rusk County Community Foundation wishes to identify and provide recognition to “everyday” citizens in our community who touch the hearts of others.
We have defined Heart of Gold Recipients as those people who give of themselves unselfishly to serve others, collectively or individually, with volunteer acts of service and/or kindness beyond the call of duty.
Any person 18 years or older, who enhances the quality of life of someone else is eligible to be nominated.
Such acts of service may largely go unnoticed and include, but are not limited to: helping senior citizens, helping disadvantaged persons, working to improve the quality of education, expanding recreational and cultural opportunities, working with children, protecting the environment, building jobs in the community, promoting public safety, and unusual acts of kindness.

Each Heart of Gold nominee will receive a certificate inscribed with their name and their Heart of Gold achievement. One special finalists to receive the Heart of Gold award will have the opportunity to direct a $500 grant to the charity of their choice, approved by the Rusk County Community Foundation.

When making its choice, the Board of Selectors will take into account whether the nominee:
• Identifies a need and fulfills it
• Recognizes opportunities and acts upon them.
• Shares their time and energy for the sake of others.
• Overcomes unusual challenges to serve others.
• Renders a service which changes a life.
• Works to create positive change.
• Inspires others to volunteer.
• Performs an exceptional act of kindness.