Eau Claire (WQOW) - Many times, News 18's Jefferson Awards winner is an unheralded volunteer, making the community better from the background. But June's recipient is a face familiar to many in the Eau Claire community.
Stuffed animals decorate Joe Luginbill's office at the Luginbill Children's Foundation in Eau Claire. Oddly missing is the one that sums up Luginbill the best: the Tasmanian devil.
“I do this work because I'm hardwired this way. I would live no other way,” Luginbill said.
Luginbill credits his parents, who are both educators, for teaching him the importance of community service at a young age. He might be young, but the tenacious 22-year-old does not lack experience. He is already a school board member and the founder of his own non-profit foundation.
“That's a real interest of mine is community service, public service,” Luginbill said. “And, it's not a purely altruistic thing either, because it makes you feel so good. And, I think we need that.”
Luginbill does not accept a salary at the foundation, funneling that money into the 9 programs that the charity provides. "The foundation to me is not about making money, it's about doing good work in the community,” Luginbill said.
That work includes instilling the same dedication to giving back. “Get them involved and give them opportunities to give back to their communities and be leaders and be helpers in their community,” he said.
Even at 22, Luginbill is not immune to the occasional lapse in memory, like when News 18 asked him to list all the organizations where he has volunteered his time.
"I can try (to list them). Do you want me to try,” he asked through laughter. “It's a lot of them. I don't know. I couldn't give you a list, honestly. Maybe I should have compiled a list of all that stuff. But, I don't do this stuff to be recognized.”
Congratulations to Luginbill as the winner of the Jefferson Award in June. Luginbill eventually came up with a rough estimate, saying he has volunteered with roughly 20 organizations.
The common theme in many of Luginbill's endeavors is a focus on helping children because often, children do not have a voice advocating for them.
If you know a volunteer making a difference in your community, fill out a Jefferson Awards nomination form here.