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First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Award Ceremony Honors Seven Alaskans

Oct 7, 2021

(Anchorage) – Today, First Lady Rose Dunleavy congratulated the recipients of the First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year Award at the ceremonial luncheon at the Governor’s Anchorage office.

First Lady and her selection committee are honored to continue the tradition of selecting this year’s seven honorees. First Lady Bella Hammond founded the First Lady’s Volunteer of the Year awards in 1975. Each year, the awards celebrate and encourage the spirit of volunteerism in Alaska.

“Being an Alaskan means going above and beyond to help our neighbors and communities,” First Lady Dunleavy said. “This year’s honorees are remarkable pillars of the community. They dedicate their time, energy and talent to improve Alaskan’s lives. We live in a better Alaska because of these selfless honorees. My selection committee and I am proud to recognize this year’s volunteers.”

For more information about the award recipients, or to schedule news interviews, contact Shannon Mason by emailing

From left to right, Gov. Mike Dunleavy, Anna DeVolld, Rachel Sallaffie, John Green, Carl Schrader, Nona Safra and First Lady Rose Dunleavy. Honorees not pictured: Amie Haakenson and Billie Kassel.

2021 Volunteer of the Year Honorees

Nona Safra, Homer

Ms. Safra is a prime example of someone who demonstrates personal commitment to long-term volunteerism and makes a significant impact in the lives of every Alaskan she meets.  Nona is committed to finding solutions for seniors, veterans, and people with disabilities who require assistance. Earlier this year she was recognized by Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor, Charlie Pierce, for her exceptional professionalism and commitment to Alaska’s senior citizens, Alaskans with disabilities, rural Alaskans, and Native Alaskans. Nona is a bright light to some of Alaska’s most vulnerable.

Billie Kassel, Fairbanks

Ms. Kassel has been a true gift to the underprivileged of Fairbanks. Billie’s breadth of volunteer service touches old and young alike through several organizations in her community. For years Billie has spent her time and resources providing food, water, and encouragement to the homeless. She is consistent and offers an opportunity to friends, family and church members to participate, with a supportive no strings attached approach. Billie’s leadership and service are a true blessing to her community.

Anna DeVolld, Soldotna

At the age of 13, Ms. DeVolld developed Promote Our Pollinators (P.O.P.). This ambitious environmental program educates Alaskans about the importance of pollinators and provides easy-to-implement methods for supporting these essential creatures. Throughout the last couple of years, Anna has held educational “Make and Take” presentations in schools, senior centers, libraries, and community events. She gives a short lesson then participants plant their pollinator gardens with seeds selected for their ability to attract and sustain Alaskan pollinators. Participants receive flyers, activity books, P.O.P. logo buttons, bags, planting tags, and stickers. Promote Our Pollinators has reached over 17,755 Alaskans, a number that continues to grow daily, thanks to Anna’s passion.

John Green, Wasilla

Mr. Green is a tireless advocate for improving Alaska’s correctional system while simultaneously working for better treatment and recovery options for those experiencing addiction. The Mat-Su Task Force has been able to touch countless lives in the community he lives in, thanks to John’s commitment to this cause.  Working ‘upstream’ in prevention with at-risk youth is one of his top priorities. Believing in people’s unique recovery journey and having the determination to never give up, makes John truly special to those experiencing addiction.

Amie Haakenson, Anchorage

Amie’s tireless volunteer work makes her a role model not only to her children and peers but for all Alaskans. She has been the volunteer coordinator for Operation Santa since 2017, a committee member for Heart walk, the Jewish Gala Chair, a Salvation Army volunteer and chair member for events like the Teddy Bear Tea. Due to Amie’s ambition, after a 32-year hiatus, the Alaska State Fair Royalty tradition was reinstated. Amie’s love for Alaska truly shines through her copious volunteer work.

Rachel Sallaffie, Bethel

Ms. Sallaffie is a passionate volunteer who is very active with the Alaska National Guard in the remote community of Bethel and the surrounding villages in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta area of Western Alaska. She was formally appointed as the Family Readiness Group Leader for the 297th Infantry Battalion, B Company on April 6th, 2017. She has dedicated herself to supporting B Company’s mission by always ensuring that the families within her area are taken care of. Rachel puts together family-oriented events, engages with community services and gives support to families experiencing crisis and difficult situations. She performs consistent volunteer work to respond and ensure that whatever support is needed for the soldiers and families in Bethel is communicated to the proper agencies and given attention. Rachel is known as the backbone and “Mother” of the Alaska National Guard Armory in Bethel.

Carl Schrader, Juneau 

Hospice work requires entering fearlessly, compassionately, and with humility into the unknown and the vulnerable. Mr. Schrader graciously embodies this fearlessness. As a volunteer with Hospice and Home Care of Juneau, a division of Catholic Community Services, he not only supports the patients and their families in the final phases of life but is a mentor for staff and volunteers who, in their own personal journeys stretch, grow, and heal through hospice work. Carl embodies the true Alaskan spirit and shares it through his camaraderie and passion. He is a steadfast soul bedside dying patients. Carl is a compassionate ear for those in physical and spiritual pain, a warm presence for grieving families, and always on standby to set up a hospital bed in a living room. Carl has maintained consistent availability day-after-day, year-after-year; he is calm and patient in work that is unpredictable and emotionally taxing.


Media Contact: Shannon Mason (907) 465-8772