By Kate Flynn*
HANCOCK -- The 2010 Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award was granted to Cindy Drake of Houghton on Sunday, July 4, during the Horsetail Scramble at Churning Rapids. Drake graciously accepted the award and elected to have the $1000 prize donated to the Keweenaw Land Trust (KLT), which she was instrumental in founding.
Terry Kinzel, second from left, presents the Heart and Hands award to Cindy Drake, 2010 recipient of the award recognizing Copper Country residents who have given of their heart and hands in the service of peace, justice or the environment. Pictured at left is Suzanne Van Dam, Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Society vice-president, who read tributes to the candidates for the award during the July 4 presentation at Churning Rapids. In the background, at right, are Keren Tischler and Alex Mayer (Suzanne Van Dam's husband). (Photos by Keweenaw Now)
Drake, who currently holds the title of Marsin Program Developer for the Land Trust’s Marsin Nature Retreat Center, was described as a "behind-the-scenes environmental, human rights, and animal activist" by Terry Kinzel, KLT member, who presented the award.
"I believe in the mission of the Land Trust," Drake said of her motivation to donate the prize money to the organization. "We need to preserve this unique area for future generations. It’s a very important cause."
2010 Heart and Hands of the Keweenaw Award winner Cindy Drake is pictured here with her husband, Jeff Flam. They are the parents of three daughters.
The mother of three daughters, Drake also finds time to volunteer for various community organizations, including Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Tea with Tots and the Keweenaw Co-op Board.
The Heart and Hands Award was founded in 1998 with a small endowment from the estate of Martha and Floyd Kinzel. Its goal is to acknowledge individuals who have given of their heart and hands in the service of peace, justice or the environment in the Copper Country.
"About 15 years ago I saw a front page article about the Chamber of Commerce Person of the Year award," Kinzel explained at the informal award ceremony. "I thought it was neat, and I thought it would be great if there was an award for the things that are important to me -- the environment and peace and justice."
It is a requirement that the prize money must be donated to a local not-for-profit organization.
Other nominees for this year’s award included Kristine Bradof for her work with the Keweenaw GEM Center, the Michigan Tech recycling center, Michigan Tech’s Environmental Sustainability Committee, the League of Women Voters, the City of Houghton Planning Commission and the Copper Country Humane Society; and Nancy and Bill Leonard for their work in Chassell Township infrastructure and beach improvements, recycling and environmental activities sponsored by their Einerlei business in Chassell, work with the Friends of Fashion and involvement in KLT and the Copper Country Humane Society.
Four board members select the winner each year.
"The award itself was absolutely an honor that I was totally surprised by," Drake said. "I’m still kind of reeling about it."
* Guest reporter Kate Flynn is a student at Beloit College. She is doing an internship in journalistic writing for both Keweenaw Now and the L'Anse Sentinel this summer.