Muskegon area rates two Governor's Service Award winners


by Cynthia Price, with notes from local/state sources

Two dynamic Muskegon women, almost 60 years apart in age, are among the winners of the 2019 Governor’s Service Awards.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Community Service Commission choose individuals and organizations for commitment to volunteerism, service, or philanthropy, based on nominations.

“I was shocked even that people saw fit to nominate me, ” says Joycelyn Hines, whom United Way of the Lakeshore put in the running for Youth Volunteer of the Year. “So I was even more so that I won. Humbly shocked.”

Gov. Whitmer said in a statement, “Our state is lucky to have such outstanding Michiganders who work hard every single day to build a home for opportunity for everyone. Whether it’s uplifting our neighborhoods or bringing communities together when tragedy strikes, they do this work even when nobody's looking because they know that every contribution makes a huge impact.

“I’m proud to present the Governor’s Service Awards to this year’s recipients as recognition of their sacrifice and dedication throughout our state.”

Hines, a program officer at the Community Foundation for Muskegon County by day, continues to work on a wide variety of projects that benefit the Muskegon community.

Now 25, Hines graduated from Muskegon Heights High School, received her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University and is now pursuing a Masters in Public Administration from Grand Valley State University.

“Jocelyn Hines has shown incredible passion for activism and advocacy for women, people of color and prosperity in her community of Muskegon and surrounding area,” stated the United Way in a press release.

One effort for which Hines is well-known is founding (with six others) and spearheading the Muskegon Young Black Professionals, which started up in March 2017. “We have a social every month, a safe space for people to let their hair down, and then special development opportunities every quarter. Last quarter we focused on financial literacy, and we had a panel of different professionals come in.” The organization meets in different places around town, but Hines says is it always well-attended.

Among other projects, Hines has participated in the United Way’s Day of Caring and Fill the Truck, helped with the South Heights Youth PhotoVoice Project, and is currently on an advisory committee for a project to bring more African-American’s stories to the schools, a joint project of the Muskegon Area Intermediate School District and the Coalition for Community Development.

One of the Governor’s Service Awards Senior Volunteers of the Year is Mildred Bond Johnson, who at 84 has been serving Muskegon Heights and greater Muskegon since she was close to the age that Hines is now.

Johnson’s great-grandfather was a freed slave from Tennessee who started a church and a schoolhouse because he believed in helping others. Johnson has carried on his legacy, volunteering despite having been a teacher in the Muskegon Public Schools for more than 30 years.

She also served as a long-term advocate for civil rights and equality, and is a mentor and director of the SNICKERS program, which assists youth to gain life skills and success.

Other organizations which have benefited from Johnson’s commitments include Habitat for Humanity, NAACP, and the James Jackson African American Museum.

Other honors going to the West Michigan area include another Senior Volunteer of the Year, Jelanie Bush of Newaygo County; Spectrum Hospital; and the Family Literacy AmeriCorps Program of West Michigan.

There will be a ceremony honoring the award winners, hosted by the Michigan Community Service Commission, on Sept. 5 at the Detroit Opera House, at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free, but registration is required by visiting