HISD honors top volunteers at annual VIPS Celebration

The Houston Independent School District recognized the efforts of thousands of volunteers and honored the top volunteers of the year at the annual Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) Celebration on Friday, April 22.

The theme of this year’s virtual ceremony was “Spotlighting Your Impact”.

Finalists were nominated for awards in four different categories. The winners are below:

  • United Airlines received the Jean Davis Myers Volunteer Service award, presented every year to a group that’s made a positive impact on students and campus culture.
  • Viviana de la Rosa received the Parent Volunteer of the Year award for her service to Eliot Leadership Academy.
  • Avalon Hogans of Kinder HSPVA received the Youth Volunteer of the Year award.  
  • Susana Torres received the Charles Harding Senior Volunteer of the Year award for her service to Coop Elementary School.

This school year alone, 20,935 active HISD volunteers contributed more than 50,000 hours—a value of more than $1.4 million to HISD campuses and school communities.

59 volunteers contributed more than 100 hours, making them eligible to win the President’s Volunteer Service Award.

“At any community, any volunteer group I work with, they all want to make sure that they can give back,” said Betti Wiggins, HISD Nutrition services officer. “It’s always the real measurable benefit that the district receives from our volunteers.”

HISD is one of the largest volunteer groups in the city, partnering with major organizations such as the Houston Rockets.

“To be able to work alongside [HISD] with our staff, with our players, to support a school and a community like this means a lot,” said Sarah Joseph, Houston Rockets Senior Community Relations Director.

The Mission Continues organization connects veterans with under-resourced communities. Project Manager Matthew Geesaman says they choose to volunteer with HISD because they can visibly see the impact it has directly on the students.

“We encourage all volunteers, veteran and non-veteran, to continue the mission that HISD has and work with them to support all the staff and the growth of every student,” said Geesaman.

HISD’s VIPS Program was started in 1970 by longtime HISD educator Jean Davis Myers, who passed away in 2015. Myers served as executive director of VIPS for 20 years and under her leadership, the program became an award-winning national model. Since 1991, the Jean Davis Myers Award for Community Service has been presented annually to an individual or group whose program or volunteer efforts have had a positive impact on student achievement.

For more information about VIPS or to volunteer, go to HoustonISD.org/VIPS.