MVP’s highest honor, Madison Visionary of the Year, was awarded to local historian, John Rankin.

MVP names Madison Visionary Award recipients

MADISON – Madison Visionary Partners named their 2024 Madison Visionary Awards recipients after receiving nominations for their three categories, Youth Volunteer of the Year, Community Volunteer of the Year, and Philanthropic Businessperson of the Year. Nominations were narrowed down to three and the winners were selected from those three nominees.

Andrew Crocker, a senior at Bob Jones High School, was awarded with Youth Volunteer of the Year. Crocker is active in different areas within Bob Jones High School as well as serving at Manna House.

“Our winner of this category spent his high school years building connections in the community. Andrew Crocker organized meal packing events that resulted in serving over 8,000 meals to local families. He also created the Bob Jones council of presidents, a democratic body that has brought together 40 student organizations to share funding and ideas. He is currently leading the charge to bring together students from Bob Jones and James Clemens to plan MadFest festival to bring the entire community together in service,” MVP Board Member David Bier said of Crocker’s accolades.

Crocker said he is inspired by the service of both his parents who are Boy and Girl Scout troop leaders and the service of his grandfather who founded a non-profit that provides meals to local organizations.

“When I was young, I had the opportunity to serve alongside him interacting with those that we served. Each time was an incredibly heartwarming experience and something I knew I wanted to continue as I went into high school,” said Crocker. “It’s my hope that future youth volunteers will continue to contribute to Madison with a service heart, building a better culture of service in our schools and in our city.

 

The Community Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Sandy Weisner of the Madison City Community Orchestra. As founder and Director of MCCO, Weisner has fostered an outlet for music and art to flourish in Madison for nine years. In that time, she has grown the orchestra from a group of just 5 volunteers to now 75.

Through the MCCO, she has touched lives by implementing a scholarship program to high school senior and college student orchestra members and by providing free concerts throughout the year and instruments for the public to try at the Madison Street Festival. Weisner said that as they approach their tenth anniversary, a report indicated that MCCO has managed to impact 70,000 people.

“Way back when with those 5, I never dreamed that it would lead to this level of what we are doing,” said Weisner. “So, thank you so very much for supporting this and recognizing the tremendous efforts provided by our players, our board members, and our volunteers.”

The 2024 Philanthropic Businessperson of the Year was awarded to Alice Lessman CEO of Signalink.

“Our Businessperson of the Year fosters an atmosphere that encourages her employees to give back,”said MVP Secretary Marc Jacobson of Lessman.

Lessman’s leadership has brought Signalink to be active in veteran’s and educational initiatives, including the Madison City Schools, Madison CEO, and American Legion. Signalink serves its community, especially underprivileged and marginalized populations, through its employee-led community support organization, Signalink Serves. They were also significant supporters of the Home Place Park renovations and the first major donor to MVP for the new Community Center.

MVP’s highest honor, Madison Visionary of the Year, was awarded to local historian, John Rankin.

Last year’s Madison Visionary of the Year Debbie Overcash presented the award and explained its significance, “The Madison Visionary of the Year is bestowed upon an individual who works in the city of Madison and has demonstrated exceptional leadership, vision, and drive to fulfill the mission of Madison Visionary Partners, which is to enrich the quality of life for the people of Madison. This person has done this through volunteerism, advocacy, and/or philanthropy.”

Rankin has been a member of the historical society since 1986 and has worked tirelessly as a volunteer to clean historic cemeteries throughout North Alabama. He is a long-time member of the Madison Station Historic Preservation Society, is a tour guide for cemetery and history tours, and an author of Madison history books as well as articles for The Madison Record and Madison Living. He has collected his own archive of historical records, photos, and artifacts, which he has provided to UAH and the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library and helped to digitize and preserve for future generations to access.

“The best part of volunteering for me has been the people I get to meet and work with,” said Rankin. “It’s good to meet people who value the same things you do and to do so together. That’s really what motivates me.”

Madison Visionary Partners recognized these remarkable figures in the community at the second annual Madison Visionary Awards at Toyota Field on March 28. Read more about the winners in an upcoming issue of Madison Living.

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