COLUMBUS — From mentoring children to helping with community fundraisers, Jeff Gokie has lent a hand to many volunteer efforts.
Gokie was recognized Tuesday with the Peter D. Rush Spirit of Voluntarism Award given by the Columbus Area United Way. He was among nine people nominated by United Way-supported agencies for the annual honor.
Gokie was nominated for his work with the TeamMates mentoring program. He has been a volunteer with the school-based program since it began in Columbus in 1999. Mentoring has been a rewarding experience for him.
“You see how much of an impact you can have on a child that doesn’t necessarily have the most stable home life,” Gokie said.
Through his years with the organization, he has mentored five boys. During the 13 years he has been involved in the program, he has given 450 hours of one-to-one time.
Gokie has also helped Columbus youth by coaching various sports, helping with JC Camp and serving in the religious-based Godparents program with his wife, Cathy. His volunteering has extended throughout the community including heading Relay For Life, the Columbus Days Parade, Columbus Tennis Association and co-chairing the Columbus Sesquicentennial. He has also been involved with the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.
Gokie volunteers at his church by serving as an Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and an officer with the Knights of Columbus.
His involvement has roots in his childhood. Gokie said both of his parents were big on volunteering.
“I really enjoy it. It’s rewarding,” he said. “The more you give the more you get back.”
Also up for the award was Janette Abbott for Arc of Platte County, Julie Running for Big Pals-Little Pals, Tom Kent for Boy Scouts, Alyssa Hogeland for Center for Survivors, Christine Douglass for Columbus Family YMCA, Don Heimes for Connect Columbus, Dave Fulton for Platte County Food Pantry and Connie Bonk for Platte Valley Literacy Association.
Youth honorees were also recognized. Those included Noah Augustine for Arc of Platte County, Alex Whited for Boy Scouts of America, Callie Sokol for St. Anthony Catholic School and Lakeview High School students for Center for Survivors.
The winner of the award was chosen by a committee of Tom Meyer, Erik Hash and Dan Staack.