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United Way of Dane County announces 2020 “Mike McKinney Award” winner

Carola Gaines estimates she works with roughly 30 local organizations
(NBC15)
Published: Apr. 20, 2021 at 10:39 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -The United Way of Dane County has announced several winners of their 2020 Community Volunteer Awards. One of those awards is named after former NBC15 News Anchor Mike McKinney who passed away in 2006.

“That was over the top for me, very phenomenal,” said this year’s recipient Carola Gaines. “I knew Mike McKinney. I know his mom. I call his mom “mom.” I call her Mother McKinney,”

Gaines estimates she’s involved with about 30 different local organizations. She volunteers at F.O.S.T.E.R, the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, an Opioid Crisis Organization, the Motivational MD, Mt Zion Baptist Church and the sorority Delta Sigma Theta – to name a few. Gaines also works a full-time job where she puts in 50-hour work weeks often. She is employed at Quartz, a health plan management company in Madison.

“That means I don’t sleep a lot,” Gaines said with a laugh.

Mike McKinney started “Share Your Holidays” more than 25 years ago. The event began as a small community food drive but has blossomed into a life-changing annual event. Last year, “Share Your Holidays” raised more than 6 million meals.

“He just made pivotal moves -- on a racial justice issues, too. And at the same time, he tried to help people,” said Gaines.  “So having this award from United Way named after him, their largest award, and I’ve seen people get it and I’m like that is so amazing,”

Gaines will receive $1,000 to give to one of the non-profits for which she volunteers.

“When you are here on this earth, you are here for a purpose, a higher purpose, and mine is to serve others. And I am grateful for that opportunity to be able to do that because I could be in those positions myself,” said Gaines.

The United Way of Dane County has been handing out these awards for the past 20 years but last year put the awards on hold because of the pandemic.

More than 105 people and groups were nominated this year. The United Way recognized nine people and organizations in all for their work in the community.

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