The U.S. Curling Association’s 2018 Volunteer of the Year is Brainerd’s very own Mary Jo Hamilton!
The USCA recently announced the award, choosing Mary Jo over nominees from throughout the country. The Brainerd Lakes Curling Club will honor Mary Jo during its 7th Annual Open Bonspiel. A celebration is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 1. It’s free and open to the public.
Mary Jo, former chair of the club’s Board of Directors, has a long list of accomplishments that date back to the club’s infancy. She encouraged her aunt, Fran Holden, to donate $1 million to build the club’s arena. She also used her fundraising skills to lead the club’s “Let’s Rock” campaign, to purchase new curling rocks at $400 apiece. It took only 10 months to replace the entire 64-rock set.
Mary Jo’s vision led to Brainerd being selected to host last year’s USCA Club National Championships, an annual tournament for club teams throughout the country. She chaired the event, led officiating classes, organized the ceremonies, food and volunteers, and was at the club at 6 a.m. daily to cook breakfast for the ice crew.
She also played a key role in developing a youth program and Doubles League, serves as a club instructor for newcomers and led the First Timer’s League.
“I’ve never met anyone like her – she gets things done, leads by example, fosters an inclusive environment and makes everyone feel comfortable, all while putting the club’s interests first,” said former board member Doug Wolf, who wrote a letter of support for Mary Jo’s nomination. The USCA established the award in 2012 to recognize volunteers because they’re the foundation of the sport. The award was designed to recognize the work curlers throughout the nation do to advance the sport on the club level.
“I feel strongly that (our club’s success) has been, and is, a club-wide effort,” Mary Jo said. “We had a philosophy – you have to pay it forward. Don’t worry about your decisions – just consider how you can make it better for the next person who comes on board. It’s not about you – how can you make your club function better? We did a lot of debriefing at projects’ conclusion.”
To read the story in United States Curling News, click here.