David Garvey, '92, of Grand Rapids was honored by Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm and First Gentleman Daniel G. Mulhern during the Governor's Service Awards ceremony held June 24, 2010, at the Gem Theatre in Detroit.
He was one of just five finalists selected for the Governor George Romney Lifetime Achievement Award. This most prestigious of all the Governor's Service Awards honors an individual who has taken his volunteer service to the highest level, year after year. Finalists have demonstrated a lifelong commitment to community involvement and volunteer service, and have made service a long-term way of life.
The 67-year-old graduated Summa Cum Laude from GVSU in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology and has been volunteering in various roles for over 50 years. His total service is impossible to quantify, but hours logged with just a few of the organizations he has assisted over the years totals more than 6,000. A former smoker of 30 years, his current passion is in offering smoking cessation and recovery support. He volunteers for Tobacco Free Partners in Grand Rapids, and has counseled more than 500 individuals through various support groups he has formed. He is a constantly available smoking cessation resource, having his personal number listed on the United Way 211 help line, State of Michigan Self-Help Directory, and in numerous doctors' offices and hospitals.
Garvey first discovered the positive feelings volunteering can bring at the young age of 9. The simple act of making cupcakes for members of his Cub Scout den launched a lifetime devoted to service.
In his teenage years, Garvey became a volunteer member of the United States Air Force Ground Observer Corps, a civilian defense group who kept look out for invading aircraft before the regular use of radar. He was named an Honorary Life Member of the Ground Observer Corps in recognition of his voluntary and faithful service. "I became involved with the corps to continue my father's tradition of service to our country and honor his memory," said Garvey, whose father was killed on Leyte Island during World War II.
Garvey's motivation for volunteering changed, however, during his twenties and thirties. During this time, his volunteer activity primarily consisted of visiting the sick. He himself had spent much of his life in and out of hospitals battling illness and addiction, and underwent a particularly long hospital stay while recovering from a serious closed-head injury. "When I visited others, I became acutely aware of how lonely, left-out, useless and fearful I had felt when I had no visitors. I could see those same feelings and the pain in their faces. I could feel it," explained Garvey. "I originally visited the sick because I thought I could relieve some of their bad feelings but discovered something miraculous, my own negative feelings were relieved by being supportive of someone else."
In addition to his smoking cessation work, he continues to visit the sick and infirmed. He also provides volunteer online research for the director of faculty development at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine, developing materials on teaching methods and ethics for faculty of the school, and regularly volunteers for Grand Rapids Community College's Academic Service Learning Center.
He credits volunteerism with helping him develop a new world view, one which he strives to make a better place. He is extremely humbled by the Governor's recognition, calling it one of the most unexpected and exciting moments of his life. Quoting poet and artist John Ruskin, Garvey summed up the experience saying, "the highest reward is not what I get for my work, but what I have become because of it."
Added August 2010