Below are some excerpts from the nomination form completed by Adam Pomeranz, Chief Executive Officer of Annandale Village.
Please describe the nominee's work as a volunteer being as specific as possible. Discuss the capacity in which the nominee has served and the duration of service. Why do you believe your volunteer is different from other volunteer in the same role?
For almost eight years, Tom Forkner has taught a martial arts class at Annandale every Wednesday at 3:30 pm. In that length of time, I don't know if he has missed even one Wednesday, excluding holidays of course. If he has missed a Wednesday, it was less than a handful of times. The class has varied in size, but averages about 20-25 Villagers (residents of Annandale) at any given time. Up until this year, Tom has provided all of the equipment, including uniforms and belts, for any Villager that wishes to participate. This year, we finally applied for a grant, won the grant, and can now subsidize some of his costs for 2011. This past winter was a momentous occasion for Tom's program. He awarded eight black-belts. The final test was conducted in front of a packed gymnasium in our Program Center, along with several judges from the local martial arts community. As Tom mentioned in the introduction, it took those Villagers seven years to accomplish that great feat. And, I can tell you as a witness, it was well worth it. I know the Villagers would agree.
It is easy for me to see why this volunteer is different from other volunteers; he is consistent. Almost eight years of showing up proves it.
What impact has the nominee has on the developmentally disabled community?
In our own community, his impact has been tremendous. Through his program, Tom has helped Villager after Villager develop a level of confidence that prepares them to tackle any obstacle in their way. Not surprisingly, as it goes hand and hand with confidence, the self esteem on our campus is much higher today because of Tom's program than it was eight years ago. Villagers wear their gees with pride, making them all appear ten feet tall.
Tom has helped each Villager realize that they can accomplish just about anything they set their mind to. He has taught them the value of persistence and discipline. As a result, for many, their quality of life is better than it's ever been.
It should be noted that other programs are now trying to replicate Tom's Annandale work at their facilities.