The United Way of Delaware County has renamed its Lifetime Achievement Award after a longtime community volunteer.
The April Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Nelson at a reception last month in the Andrews House. A Delaware City Council meeting scheduled that same evening was pushed back so that city leaders could attend the presentation.
“When you’re awesome, they give you a lifetime achievement award,” said Judge David Hejmanowski on Facebook. “When you’re April Nelson, they name the lifetime achievement award after you. No one ever deserved it more.”
Nelson said she knew she would receive an award, but didn’t know it would be named after her.
“That was not something I would have foreseen coming. I was blown away,” Nelson said. “You don’t do community work expecting to be honored. You do community work because you want to do community work.”
The United Way of Delaware County board voted to rename its highest volunteer award “to reflect April’s dedication to the community, and April is the first recipient,” said president Brandon Feller.
“For us it just made sense that she has accomplished so much in the community, both with United Way and with other organizations, that this is the person that came to mind when we thought of that award,” Feller said.
“I’ve served on city commissions, nonprofit boards, had involvement with United Way, done a little bit of everything,” Nelson said. “Probably the volunteer work that I’ve spent the most hours and time on over the last decade or so has been the legal clinic which operates out of Andrews House.”
The Andrews House website said the Interfaith Legal Clinic “has been the source of free legal advice to residents of Delaware County and the surrounding areas for over 10 years.” The walk-in clinic, from 5 to 6 p.m. the third Tuesday of each month, offers an attorney for “people whose income is at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines.” The Andrews House, a community services center, is at 39 W. Winter St.
Feller said the United Way asked veteran volunteers such as Nelson to return and help with their hunger alliances.
“We gathered those agencies together to have them work together as a collective body as how best to use United Way funding for hunger issues,” Nelson said. “It was an amazing process and incredible watching the whole thing unfold, and the agencies work together.”
Nelson, a non-practicing attorney, said she grew up in Delaware, left for a number of years, and moved back.
“If I’m going to live here, I’m going to invest myself in this community,” she said. “It’s one thing to work here, to raise a family here. It’s another thing to say, I need to do more. I love Delaware dearly, but I can’t pretend that there aren’t issues in this community – hunger, housing, legal needs. I just felt there was a need there and I could be useful.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.