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Defenders recognize volunteers at banquet

Published: Monday, March 24, 2014 5:28 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 24, 2014 11:30 p.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – Pam Johnson plays a significant role in keeping the Green Spot Used Book Store up and running.

Because she's one of many volunteers donating time to keep the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County's Woodstock business alive, she never expected to be singled out.

Earlier this month, however, she was. Johnson won the Volunteer of the Year Award at the organization's annual meeting, which features a presentation of the yearly awards. The Young Defender of the Year Award, Theta Award and Government Award also were handed out at the March 9 banquet.

"It's really an honor," Johnson said. "I don't do it for the recognition, but it's always nice to know that the hard work you do is recognized."

Administrative Coordinator Christy Matsuoka – the Defenders' lone paid employee – said recognizing the work of volunteers and community members was important to encourage continued participation.

"It provides more visibility for working on environmental things," Matsuoka said. "Especially in McHenry County, it gets pushed to the back burner a lot, so we need to be rewarding the government groups and the other groups who do good things."

The organization presented the McHenry County Health Department's Division of Environmental Health with the Government Award for its efforts toward providing comprehensive solid waste removal and recycling services to people in unincorporated parts of the county.

The Land Conservancy of McHenry County received the Theta Award for its efforts protecting the county's resources. Peter Hankins took home the Young Defender of the Year award for his help volunteering.

Johnson, whose involvement with Green Spot started after she responded to an ad for volunteers several years ago, said the mission of the store has driven her to stay heavily involved.

"Books that somebody else might have just pitched, we find a new home for," she said. "Nothing that's donated to the bookstore goes to the landfill – it all gets resold or recycled. ... I love that that's a key part of our mission."

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