In the past two years, Alaskans have weathered the storm of the pandemic in a multitude of ways — by devoting countless hours of overtime to care for our loved ones, shifting to virtual platforms, adjusting to new family roles and dynamics, supporting communities with Alaskan-made goods, and going the extra mile to help a neighbor. Reflecting on this time, I feel a deep sense of gratitude to call Alaska home and to be surrounded by such dedicated and inspiring individuals. 
Volunteerism is a key pillar of Alaska’s rich history and future. I am happy to continue the First Lady’s Volunteer Awards, an annual tradition started by First Lady Bella Hammond in 1975 to recognize and pay tribute to a special group of volunteers that make extraordinary contributions to our communities and state. It is a special honor for me to present these awards to individuals who are selfless, caring, and make positive impacts on the lives of other Alaskans and our communities. 
Last year, our program recognized Alaskans who advocate for our state’s most vulnerable populations, provide food and resources to the homeless, educate Alaskans about the importance of pollinators, improve the lives of those experiencing addiction, enrich our state with community events and fundraisers, dedicate efforts in supporting Western Alaska’s Alaska National Guard population, and lend a calming presence for Alaskans in hospice care. Each one of these Alaskans has made our state a better place to live, and I thank them for their service.
Exceptional volunteers are not those that seek recognition, but rather do the hard work with a giving heart. The First Lady’s Volunteer Awards shines a light on these special Alaskans. Each nominee has an uplifting story to tell, and I look forward to sharing those stories with all Alaskans when the recipients are announced. 
Recipients are chosen by a committee of Alaskans in a selection process that values long term volunteerism, and high impact service to community. The 2022 recipients will be honored at a ceremony at the Governor's Residence in Juneau this spring. The committee members and I are looking forward to reading the nominations with the opportunity to highlight the good work that is being done across Alaska. 
Please join me in recognizing deserving Alaskans by submitting a nomination. Nominations for outstanding volunteers are being accepted now through March 10, 2022. Nominations can be submitted online at volunteerawards.alaska.gov or by submitting hard copies which are available to pick up in person in the Anchorage, Fairbanks, Juneau, Soldotna or Palmer Governor’s Office. For more information, please contact the Office of the Governor. 
Rose Dunleavy is first lady of the State of Alaska.