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Local veterans advocate wins Governor’s Service Award

A local veterans advocate is among the recipients of a 2022 Governor’s Service Award.

The awards, which recognize individuals, businesses, and nonprofit organizations that show a commitment to volunteerism, service, or philanthropy, will be handed out during a ceremony Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

The Governor’s Service Awards have been presented since 1994.

“We are proud to recognize this remarkable group of Michiganders who are an inspiration when it comes to helping others,” said Michigan Community Service Commission Executive Director Ginna Holmes. “Their service has strengthened communities and made our state more resilient.”

“Michigan succeeds because of Michiganders who go above and beyond to serve their communities and lift up others,” said Governor Whitmer. “This year’s winners get things done even when nobody’s looking because they know that every contribution makes a huge impact.”

Among the 46 recipients was Cortnie Parish of Howell, who won the National Service Impact Award. Parish co-founded VETLIFE with her husband, an Iraq War veteran.

The nonprofit organization formed in 2018 toprovide veterans with a network of sustainable solutions and resources to improve the quality of civilian life.

Michigan is home to over 600,000 veterans, but in 2019 less than 18% of that population were connected to a federal benefit earned through their military service. To address that challenge, Parish chose to launch a large free event for veterans and their families called Vet Fest.

Since 2018 it has connected tens of thousands of veterans to benefits and helped veterans and their families through difficult times. A person who attended Vet Fest reported “I think you saved my husband’s life – he is an Army veteran and today is the first time he’s left the house in six months.”

According to a release, Parish inspires others through her service.

“She works with community resource providers to help educate them on what benefits veterans are entitled to. She has created several other events that help food insecure veterans, homeless veterans and veterans struggling with mental health concerns. Without her selfless service more veterans would fall through the cracks.”

Also wining an award is Lake Trust Credit Union, which is headquartered in Brighton. They were winners of the Corporate Social Impact Award.

Lake Trust has launched several giveback initiatives to fill unmet needs in Michigan, including Meals For Michigan, to support area food banks; the Great Lakes Giveback, to provide grants for small businesses during the pandemic; and the home loan giveback program, where a housing nonprofit is supported each time a member closes a home loan.

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