For more than 100 years, Rotary International’s guiding principles have been to encourage and foster service and ethics through fellowship, high ethical standards, and the worthiness of all useful occupations – with each being an opportunity to serve society locally and globally. All of these ideals are applied to each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life.

Every year in October, Vocational Service month, the Rotary Club of Juneau, through its Vocational Service Awards, recognizes others in the community who exemplify these basic tenets. Garnered from nominations by club members, the annual awards are presented to individuals, non-profits and businesses who demonstrate Rotary’s high ethical standards and standards of conduct.  

This year’s recipients were honored at the club’s meeting on Tuesday, October 28th at the Baranof Hotel and are:
PUBLIC SECTOR/ Lorrie Heagy – JAMM: Lorrie Heagy is a music teacher and librarian at Glacier Valley Elementary School where she works with the community, parents, and teachers to integrate and advocate for the arts for all kids.
Named "Music Teacher of the Year," she initiated the Art is Elementary program, which won the Kennedy Center’s Creative Ticket National School of Distinction Award, an honor given annually to only five schools in the country. The instrumental music program she helped initiate at Glacier Valley spread to other Juneau elementary schools through grants and school district funding.
Lorrie also teaches at the University of Alaska Southeast in its Master of Arts in Teaching program and at the Basic Arts Summer Institutes for Alaskan teachers. She is an accompanist for local arts organizations throughout Juneau and was one of fifty teachers selected nationally as a 2009 Yale School of Music Distinguished Music Educator.
COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIP/The Downtown Improvement Group (DIG): Normally presented to a business that has made a significant contribution to the community, this year’s recipient is actually an informal partnership created to better Juneau’s downtown. The award committee reasoned that Vocational Service in Rotary is about fellowships and partnerships, which the DIG exemplifies.
Its founder, businessman Bruce Denton, is concerned about downtown Juneau’s slow deterioration. Wanting to do something positive, he commissioned a film through fellow businessman and local artist Pat Race to galvanize the community into positive action. The film was not meant to be a critique but, rather, a "documentation" to get Juneauites to take a long look at downtown and to brainstorm social issues, the business-economy and changes needed – to figure out a way to preserve and improve the downtown Bruce, members of the DIG and many in the community love. Concurrently, the group has taken smaller steps along the way with projects such as downtown community clean up.
NON-PROFIT/SEADOGS: Each year Rotary recognizes a non-profit organization that goes the extra mile and truly exemplifies "service above self", -- contributing to the community in order to make things better for others.
SEADOGS is a 31-year old volunteer nonprofit search and rescue organization dedicated to training and handling search dogs in Southeast Alaska. Working closely with other search and rescue groups, certified SEADOG handlers are on 24-hour call, available within 40 minutes after notification of the need for a search. Recognized nationally as a search and rescue operation, every year SEADOGS participates in searches involving everything from lost hunters to suicide victims. Teams have participated in rescue efforts from Ketchikan to Barrow, and during the Armenian and Loma Prieta (San Francisco) earthquakes.
Bruce Bowler, Team Leader for the SEADOGS, accepted the award on behalf of the organization. Bruce has participated in more than 750 searches and trained four dogs in the more than 30 years of service to the organization. He describes himself as a "bald guy who does his best to lead some amazing people who have even more amazing search dogs."
INDIVIDUAL/ Debbie Fagnant, Volunteer for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Though Debbie "retired" three years ago, she did not retire from caring about the community. Through her volunteer advocacy on behalf of the mentally ill, she is described as "extraordinary" -- credited with transforming the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and now serving as its president.
NAMI’s focus is to support those with mental illness toward recovery through advocacy and support to them and their families. One in four adults and one in ten children are impacted by mental illness; the disease touches us all, and the Fagnants are no exception. Prepared to share her story and help others, Debbie trained as a facilitator for the organization’s family support groups. Fueled by her teaching background, she began training other facilitators and widened the availability of local resources. In partnership with her husband, she also began teaching a 12-week class to develop family-to-family teachers. The result helps families share information in a climate of mutual support.
Debbie’s activism has further inspired NAMI to advocate before the Alaska legislature raising the profile of the organization. Now recognized as an important community force, NAMI is better positioned to seek financial support to meet its challenges.
Described as a compassionate person who is generous with her resources and time, Debbie has made a difference in dozens of lives through kindness, lucid teaching and exquisite sensitivity. This combination, driven by passion, makes her tremendously effective. Through her volunteer commitment, more families in Juneau and Alaska share helpful information, experience greater support, and look to the future with hope.