July 13, 2021

And the 2021 Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award goes to …

At the 14th Annual Champs Celebration, presented by Kalsec, Namita Sharma, Board President for Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, introduced the 2021 Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award.

As a proud parent of two KPS graduates—my sons both attended Arcadia Elementary—I also had the deep pleasure of knowing Gulnar Husain when she served first as an AmeriCorps worker and then as Arcadia’s CIS Site Coordinator. For more than 38 years, Gulnar dedicated herself to volunteer work throughout our community.

So, it is my honor to present this year’s Gulnar Husain Volunteer Award. This award recognizes a CIS volunteer who emulates Gulnar’s desire to serve children with a consistent and unflinching passion. This year’s award winner is Pam Dalitz. 

Pam is a registered nurse who retired from Bronson and became a CIS volunteer at the encouragement of one of our 2016 Champ award winners, Honoré Salon. Since then, Pam has been supporting students at Spring Valley Center for Exploration. Or, as Pam refers to it, “her second home.” Here she tutors and provides classroom support, working closely with second grade teacher Ms. Chyna Campbell.

Pam also serves on the CIS Volunteer Leadership Advisory Council, advising CIS on such things as volunteer recruitment and retainment.

CIS Site Coordinator Martha Serio says this of Pam: “Outgoing and personable, Pam has developed strong relationships with many Spring Valley staff and students. She is truly a part of our Spring Valley family. This trait is what draws the students to her and has helped them to be focused and on task during their tutoring sessions.” 

When the pandemic hit and schools physically closed last March, her volunteer work, like so much else, changed dramatically. Missing her Spring Valley family, Pam connected with Martha to figure out how she could support students in this brave, new world we all found ourselves in.

After learning where the most pressing needs were for Spring Valley students and their families, Pam’s volunteer work evolved  to become a courier of sorts. Every Tuesday and Thursdays, while masked and maintaining a safe distance, she began delivering grab-and-go meals to families who couldn’t make the food drops at the school. Working closely with CIS, Pam lifts up the generosity of this community. Whether she’s dropping off KPS technology equipment, meals, paperwork, school supplies, or basic needs, she is—on behalf of all of us—sending a powerful message to our kids: We are here for you. We haven’t forgotten you. We love you.

In addition to her volunteer work with CIS and the Sierra Club, when Kalamazoo County Public Health and Emergency Management officials put out an urgent request for volunteers to assist with mass vaccinations, Pam heeded their call. As a skilled medical professional, she is lending her expertise to help with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in our county.

Martha Serio can’t help but see Gulnar in Pam. “Pam,” she says, “embodies the characteristics I loved about Gulnar. She is giving, empathetic, and selfless.”

Pam Dalitz, thank you for empowering kids to realize their full potential in school and beyond.

Pam, because we know you love nature and the outdoors, you are receiving a stained-glass picture of a tree.

Pam Dalitz, 2021

Ask Me About My 12,000 Kids popped a quiz on Pam so come back this Thursday to see how she did!

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