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First Lady’s Volunteer Award Ceremony Honors Seven Alaskans

May 6, 2024

Today, First Lady Rose Dunleavy congratulated seven Alaskans at the First Lady’s Volunteer Award ceremonial luncheon at the Governor’s Residence in Juneau, Alaska.

First Lady Dunleavy and her selection committee are honored to continue the tradition of recognizing the outstanding contributions of these dedicated individuals. First Lady Bella Hammond founded the First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year awards in 1974. Each year, the awards celebrate and encourage the spirit of volunteerism in Alaska.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” said First Lady Rose Dunleavy. “These individuals are selfless, caring, and make positive impacts in the lives of other Alaskans and our communities. I am honored to have the opportunity to shine a light on their amazing efforts and share uplifting stories through The First Lady’s Volunteer Award.”

2024 Volunteer Honorees:

Lynda Chud, Wasilla
Lynda has been a volunteer at the local homeless youth Center, MyHouse located in Wasilla, for over 10 years. As the MyHouse Empowerment Coach, Lynda facilitates the Women’s Empowerment Group. She volunteers several times each week to meet individually with clients or to take a group out for a special field trip. Lynda loves to take the residents of MyHouse out to dinner, to a local play, art shows or music events. Lynda is a retired schoolteacher and has experience working with youth who have been trafficked and who have experienced extreme trauma. She has voluntarily gone to trainings and participated in classes that will give her the knowledge needed to give youth the encouragement they need to hang on, have hope and heal. Lynda has impacted the lives of so many youth in such a positive way. She shows them love and courage. Lynda is recognized for the incredible asset she is to MyHouse, to the community and to our beautiful State.

Christine Greco, Palmer
The hockey community in Alaska wouldn’t be the same without the dedication and volunteerism of Christine Greco. While not only volunteering to manage several youth hockey teams, Christine coordinates volunteer opportunities for the youth players to give back to their community, demonstrating the need for volunteers and how rewarding it can be. The young athletes have helped at local school events such as carnivals, reading to students, and packing up classrooms when labor is needed. The athletes have officiated and coached younger hockey players in tournaments, helped community members move, shovel or plow snow, rake and complete yardwork. Christine also coordinates the Rocking Hockey event in Palmer where local hockey players volunteer with special needs students on the ice. Christine goes above and beyond providing opportunities for the athlete to be involved in their community and give back to those that have supported them. She is a role model by the selfless way she leads and is the definition of an outstanding Alaskan.

Emily Machos, Fairbanks
Emily has been a compassionate volunteer in Fairbanks for over 20 years through speaking up and acting for those that cannot. Emily established the Alaska Spay Neuter Assistance Program for the Fairbanks North Star Borough 18 years ago and has been working continuously to offer low cost spay and neuter options for pets of individuals and families to help with overpopulation and to assist families that cannot afford the procedures. Emily tirelessly works to place unwanted animals with foster families, help trap lost or abandon animals, coordinates clinics, and offers assistance and guidance without judgment to those needing help with their animals. Emily’s passion has saved many animals in the Fairbanks area and is a great role model for the younger generation. She is a true hero to the animals of Alaska.


Katherine Mead, Cordova
Katherine resides in the beautiful City of Cordova where she works for the Transportation Security Administration. When not working, she generously gives her time to serve as the Volunteer Food Pantry Coordinator for The Salvation Army, a role she inherited nearly 5 years ago. Katherine’s concern for serving her community, along with prior training and volunteer service in emergency management, helped her identify a plan to adopt food distribution to their existing clients, as well as those who used the pantry on a temporary basis. Throughout the pandemic, Katherine delivered food bags to seniors living in apartment buildings, as they were among the most vulnerable in the community.

Andrea McCormick, Anchorage
Andrea’s story embodies the essence of unwavering dedication, compassion, and faith-driven service. Her journey with the Hope Center, formerly known as the Downtown Soup Kitchen in Anchorage, highlights a profound commitment to serving the most vulnerable members of our community. Andrea began to volunteer 21 years ago when she felt a calling to serve at the Hope Center. This was not merely a decision to volunteer, but a commitment to a life’s mission. What started in a small red house in the middle of downtown Anchorage has now grown to touch thousands of lives daily. Andrea’s impact extends beyond the physical nourishment provided by the Hope Center. She has been a spiritual mentor, a friend, and a beacon of hope to the homeless and needy. Her approach to volunteerism transcends the act of service; it is about forging genuine connections, sharing in people’s struggles, and offering emotional and spiritual support.

Margaret Varlamos, Anchorage
Since 2020, Margaret has been a volunteer Long Term Care Ombudsman. Margaret has shown exceptional dedication to advocating for and improving the lives of residents in long term care facilities. As an Ombudsman, Margaret collaborates extraordinarily well with all parties involved for more effective advocacy. She reaches out to the Long-Term Care Ombudsman staff for additional information if she is not able to directly answer any questions from residents and their family. She actively reaches out to other professionals so as to provide the best information to residents and coordinate advocacy actions. Margaret also gives residents a voice and an ear – she listens compassionately to their stories and concerns, empowering them with a sense of control and dignity. She fiercely advocates for positive changes, both large and small, that dramatically improve residents’ quality of life.

Bristy Larsen, Dillingham
Bristy is an entrepreneur in rural Alaska’s community of Dillingham. Bristy stays busy running a small business as a hairdresser and has remarkably allocated two-thirds of her store space to operate a “free store,” where community members can contribute items for repurposing. This generous endeavor encompasses a wide array of goods, from footwear and clothing to baby essentials like diapers. Dedicated to serving her community, Bristy tirelessly cleans, organizes, and redistributes these donations to those in need. Her selfless efforts extend beyond managing the “Free Store” as she assists numerous people relocating to the area by aiding them in setting up their accommodations. Her actions transcend mere volunteerism; she epitomizes the spirit of generosity and compassion, serving as a beacon of hope and inspiration to those around her.

Pictured left to right: Christine Greco, Andrea McCormick, Lynda Chud, First Lady Rose Dunleavy, Lt. Governor Dahlstrom, Margaret Varlamos, Emily Machos, Katherine Mead (not pictured: Bristy Larsen)