Vote for Good Sam’s 2012 RVer of the Year
What do a stray animal advocate, a couple of volunteer contractors, two disaster-relief workers and a pair of perennial do-gooders have in common? These RVing altruists have all received the Good Sam Club’s prestigious RVer of the Year award.
Each year since 2008, the Good Sam Club has bestowed its RVer of the Year award on one remarkable individual or couple who personifies the Good Samaritan spirit by giving back to the community in a big way. Richard Daniels took up a crusade to save homeless companion animals and founded a network of foster homes for stray pets. Susan and Monty Scales quit their contracting jobs to rebuild homes in neighborhoods struck by natural disasters. Marilyn and Don Buller founded a team of RVing volunteers to help out in disaster-ravaged communities. And Joyce and John Williams dedicated their lives to volunteering for dozens of public agencies and charitable organizations.
Thousands of members cheered for these exemplary RVers as they received their awards at Good Sam Rallies, and the Good Sam Club rewarded the recipients’ charities of choice with substantial contributions. For those who don’t know, the Good Sam Club has its roots in the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. The RVer of the Year award not only honors the outstanding volunteer contributions of the yearly winners, it also promotes the Good Samaritan spirit of the club’s more than 1,500 regional chapters and 1.3 million members.
Now it’s time for members of the Good Sam Club to elect the next RVer of the Year. Good Sam’s panel of judges narrowed the field to four lofty candidates, and during October members can visit GoodSamClub.com/vote to cast one vote per member family. Members need to be registered and signed in on the website to participate. The online polls close on October 31, and the 2012 winners will be announced in the Early Spring 2013 issue of Highways and the February 2013 edition of CyberSam.
Without further ado, here’s a brief introduction to the four 2012 nominees. Extended biographies can be found at GoodSamClub.com/vote.
Mark and Ellie Douglass
RV Accessibility Advocates
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
Mark and Ellie Douglass believe everyone should have the opportunity to go RVing with dignity and independence. Their cause is a personal one, with Mark having spent years in a wheelchair and Ellie taking on the role of caregiver. Having kept careful notes on the accessibility of the RV parks they visited in their motorhome, Ellie came up with the idea of making this information public. So last year the couple launched the nonprofit RVing Accessibility Group and its online listings of handicap-friendly RV parks. The Douglasses now spend their days visiting RV parks and attending RV events, promoting greater accessibility and demonstrating the challenges people with limited mobility face. Ultimately, they’d like to produce publications listing hundreds of RV parks that foster a comfortable environment for disabled guests. “We hope to have a positive impact on the RVing community by getting RVers with disabilities back on the road,” says Mark.
John and Marjorie Grubka
Stewards of Public Lands
Shortly after John and Marjorie Grubka retired in 2004, they accepted a volunteer position at Washington’s Saltwater State Park. Twenty-two assignments later, the couple has volunteered from Key Largo, Florida, to Ketchikan, Alaska. They’ve manned the gates at Oregon’s Fern Ridge Dam, worked in the visitor center at Washington’s Sacajawea State Park and served as guides at LBJ National Historic Site in Texas. The Grubkas’ most common commitments are as campground hosts where they park their RV at a federal, state or county park for the season and collect fees, prepare attendance reports, keep the facilities clean, do maintenance work and provide assistance to campers. All told, they’ve served at eight state parks, four national parks, three national seashores, two national historic sites, a national recreation area, a forest service campground, a county park and an Army Corp of Engineers site. The public-spirited couple has tallied up more than 36,000 service hours so far, saving government agencies an estimated $288,000.
La Grange, Kentucky
During the Vietnam War, Fred Moore served as a medical corpsman in a burn unit, treating injured Marines and developing a profound respect for servicemen and women. Years later, while placing flags with fellow volunteers at San Diego’s Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, he had an emotional experience that inspired him to form Flags4Vets with a goal of placing American flags on the gravesites of veterans throughout the United States and 10 other countries. These days, Moore spends his time organizing Flags4Vets events, enlisting volunteers to participate and encouraging donations from individuals and corporations. For Veterans Day in 2011, Flags4Vets placed flags in 40 states, and for the past three Memorial Days volunteers arranged 25,000 flags to form a giant “USA” at Louisville’s Waterfront Park. Moore’s five-year-old nonprofit organization is the only agency approved by the Department of Defense’s National Cemetery Administration to raise money for flags and place them on veterans’ graves.
Tom and Lucy Stackhouse
As Tom Stackhouse was getting ready to retire back in 2000, he and his wife, Lucy, searched for something to give their lives a sense of purpose. Lucy discovered RVICS (pronounced R-Vics, for Roving Volunteers in Christ’s Service), a nondenominational organization that has been doing voluntary maintenance work at Christian institutions for the past 35 years. Since then, the Stackhouses have been faithful RVICS volunteers, traveling almost year-round to serve at Christian camps, schools, colleges, conference centers and children’s homes. As a trained electrician, Tom takes care of the electrical jobs, as well as painting, making repairs and doing carpentry and sheetrock work. Lucy spends her time cleaning, sewing and painting. They’ve contributed thousands of hours of volunteer service and maintenance labor at 84 different locations, from Florida to Alaska. In 2003, they started serving as team leaders, coordinating the projects they work on and taking care of paperwork. “Whatever comes your way, that’s what you pitch in to do,” says Tom.
In Search of Our Next Nominees
The Good Sam Club invites members to submit nominations for the 2013 RVer of the Year award at GoodSamClub.com/rveroftheyear/nominate. If you know an outstanding Good Sam member or couple who has gone the extra mile to give back through volunteering, fundraising or building awareness for worthy causes—even if that member happens to be you—please let us know. All that’s required is contact information for both you and your nominee and the reason for your nomination. RVer of the Year nominations not only recognize virtuous individuals, they also draw attention to a variety of noble causes and volunteer organizations.