Audrey was nominated by the Mattie Kelly Fine and Performing Arts Center for her years of dedication and service. Audrey began volunteering for the arts center in 1995. She has been involved in front of and behind the curtain with building and painting sets, helping with the tech crew and basically anywhere there has been a need. She is currently the head usher. She also volunteers at the Niceville library and is the president of the Eglin Women's Golf Association.
Her favorite part of volunteering is being with the students of Northwest Florida State College and seeing their growth through the arts.
1Chief Bennett is new to the Bluewater/Niceville area. He is currently the new Fire Chief at Northbay Fire District. He was nominated by the Mid-bay Rotary Club. Northbay Fire District offers outstanding service and support to the community 24 hours a day with fire suppression and advanced life support. Chief Bennett is supported by dedicated and highly trained crew and staff.
He began his career at the age of 18 as volunteer firefighter and would have sooner if the age requirement would have allowed it. Through hard work and training he advance through the ranks to become fire chief of the Marianna Fire Department of Marianna, Florida where he served for almost 10 years.
Chief Bennett describes himself as a 'simple guy' believing in the American dream of family and honest work. He loves serving in the community and giving back to those he serves.
Pat is a life long volunteer with a passion for her family and her community. Pat was nominated by the Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center (ECCAC). She began her volunteering when she was 20 years old working with handicapped children.
Pat has worn many hats with her service to others. She has been affiliated with various school organizations, band parents, Cub Scouts, Girls Scouts, Sharing & Caring in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and the Emerald Coast Children's Advocacy Center.
She loves interacting with the children at the ECCAC. Her favorite part is organizing the Adopt-A-Family program at Christmastime.
When asked why she volunteers she said, "I want to make a difference in someone’s life, if only a small difference".
Brian Haugen was nominated by the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce for his outstanding leadership and community service. Brian is the Co-founder and President of the Taylor Haugen Foundation. The Taylor Haugen Foundation was organized in memory of Brian's son "T" who passed away from an abdominal injury sustained during a high school football game. The foundation provides awards for Christian student athletes as well as provides protective sports equipment for school teams.
Brian is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the 82nd Airborne Division with the US Army Rangers and in the US Army Special Forces.
He serves on and is affiliated with many organizations in the community including the American Red Cross, the University of West Florida and the RESTORE Act committee.
Brian is man of strong Christian values.
Susan is an advocate for those in need. She was nominated by Sharing and Caring of Niceville. Passionate about the programs offered at Sharing and Caring, Susan has been a long time volunteer and has served in various positions including vice president, president and member of the board.
Susan also spent 15 years as part of Clowns for Christ at Crosspoint Church. She would entertain older adults, children's groups, and visit hospitals as Lily the Clown.
Susan spent 35 years as an educator in the south.
John "Jack" McAlister
After serving for 20 years in the U.S. Air force, Jack retired to Niceville 47 years ago, making it his home.
During his time flying in the Air Force, Jack also found time to work with local orphanages.
Jack was nominated by Sharing and Caring, the local food bank. He was instrumental in it's beginnings in Niceville and helped acquire the building it now calls home.
Jack also volunteered with his wife in their church marriage encounter program.
He is also a volunteer at the election polls.
Jack said the reason he volunteers is, "...all the people who come thru our door have a need. I have been given by my community the opportunity to assist them over a rough spot in their road of life."
Known as Ms. Shirley to those at Niceville High School, Shirley has been volunteering for Okaloosa County Schools since 2001. She has helped children and faculty at Plew Elementary, Ruckle Middle and Niceville High School.
You can find her selling football tickets, helping in the office and serving in the Booster Club.
She is also a past volunteer for the Boy Scouts of America as a cub scout den leader, merit badge counselor and for the Yustaga Lodge 385. BSA brings back memories of sloshing around in ankle deep water at night to check that the boys were high and dry.
Shirley's advice to young people is to, "follow the Golden Rule and stay in school. Further your education, be it votech or higher--we all need plumbers and doctors."
Mary was nominated by Bluewater Elementary School. She is also known as "Granny" to the children and faculty because her daughter teaches at Bluewater Elementary. She was honored by Okaloosa County School District and named Senior Volunteer 2013-14. Her roles at school include assisting teachers in the classroom, proctoring testing and being the 'official' copy person. Following the legacy of her mother and grandmother (who had a school in Washington D.C. named after her), she loves serving children.
Mary has also volunteered with Catholic Charities, the Junior Women's Club of Niceville and Habitat for Humanity.
She was a full-time mother to her three children and later a secretary. And of course a faithful military wife.
Her advice to young people is to , "enjoy life, do your best, and remember to treat others the way you want to be treated".
A native to Florida and Niceville, Mayor Wise was nominated by the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. Mayor Wise was first elected in 1971 and has served in this position for 45 years. A major advocate for growth in Niceville, he has served as President of the Florida League of Cities, on the board of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council and the Niceville-Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce and many more.
In his earlier years he was one of the original volunteer firefighters for Niceville.
Senator Don Gaetz characterized Mayor wise as 'the civic symbol of our town's progress'.
When asked what inspires him to serve, he said, "I love to help others".
Anna and her husband came to the Niceville area when he retired from the US Air Force to work out on Hurlburt. They have two children and two grandchildren whom they love to visit as much as they can. They have made Niceville their home for eighteen years.
Like the other nominees, Anna volunteers in many capacities. Along with her work with Covenant Care Hospice, she does bingo at the Twin Cities Pavilion, sing-a-longs at the Bluewater Manor and exercise classes at Brookdale. She also provides the very needed and special service of 11th hour care for those who are dying and do not have family to be there with them. She has a very compassionate heart.
She is involved with Camp Monarch, Veterans Stand Down and was involved with the World’s Largest Baby Shower.
The best part of her service is the time she spends visiting with the patients. She finds it very gratifying and loves to make them laugh and smile.
Anna has strong Christian values and her advice to young people is to ‘read the bible and to study’. She is dedicated to her faith and her family.