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  WAVE (Wisconsin Award for Volunteer Excellence) Award  


The Wisconsin Awards for Volunteer Excellence (WAVE) program was established by Partners of WHA, Inc. to recognize outstanding contributions of organized volunteer programs, and is patterned after the AHA (American Hospital Association) HAVE (Hospital Award for Volunteer Excellence) Awards program.


The WAVE Award recognizes volunteer programs whose work directly furthers the mission of the institution they serve.  One WAVE Award may be given to a program in each of the five categories:

  • Community Service

  • Fundraising

  • In-Service

  • Community Outreach and/or Collaboration

  • Public Policy and Advocacy

  2024 WAVE Committee  

Chair - Pat Freeders


Committee -   




The original application and four complete copies must be submitted to the WHA office and postmarked

on or before:  July 19, 2024

2023 Wave Award Winners

2023 Wave 2.jpg

Category: Fundraising Programs

Program: “Yuletide Ladies’ Night Out"

Organization: Aspirus Merrill Hospital Volunteers, Merrill

Yuletide Ladies’ Night Out is a bow-making/wreath decorating workshop for community members, hospital staff, and volunteers. The goals of the program include teaching participants how simple it can be to decorate their own holiday wreaths, provide a fun social evening with food and beverages, create community interest in supporting and joining the volunteer organization, and to create a fundraiser to finally support the Discharge with Dignity Program (providing clothing to individuals who come to the ER due to an accident). A committee of volunteers works on all aspects of the program, making it one of the most successful fundraisers they host.

Category: Community Outreach and/or Collaboration Programs
Program: "Lucas III Chest Compression"

Organization: Partners of Marshfield Medical Center, Ladysmith
The Partners of Marshfield Medical Center-Ladysmith manage a Wish List Program. Each year, hospital and EMS staff contribute to this list for items that are in need. Items included are for both the hospital and EMS (medical equipment or improvements) that are not in those normal budgets. The requests received are reviewed and approved by hospital management before they are given to Partners for consideration. The Lucas III Chest Compression System was an item purchased from the Wish List. This equipment enables EMS responders to treat cardiac arrest patients and avoid neurological damage by providing a steady supply of oxygen to the heart and brain. This lifesaving device supports the people of the vast rural communities that make up Rusk County.

Category: In-service Hospital Volunteer Programs
Program: “Wheelchair Tracking Depot”

Organization: SSM Health St. Mary’s Madison Volunteers, Madison

Wheelchairs are vital to the mission of St. Mary’s Hospital, safely transporting patients as they depart the hospital campus. Unfortunately, some wheelchairs go missing and cannot be recovered. The hospital volunteers created a wheelchair-tracking system using low-cost tags that can track missing wheelchairs off the hospital campus. The intent is to ensure a sufficient supply is always available for patient transportation and reduce the loss of wheelchairs that belong to the hospital. The program not only supports the fiscal responsibility of the hospital, but also ensures patients get the care they need when they need it.

Category: Community Service Programs
Program: “Aspirus Family House”

Organization: Aspirus Wausau Hospital Volunteer Services, Wausau

The Aspirus Family House’s main goal is to provide a home-like, supportive, and restful lodging experience for patients and families dealing with serious illness or medical crisis. It is an important benefit to patients and families to stay in a safe and affordable environment. It takes away the burden of hotel costs and travel time as many of the guests are out of state or live many hours away. The Aspirus Family House is a valuable and important part of the services the hospital provides. “We can’t thank you all enough for the wonderful accommodations so close to the hospital. Our son was in a tragic car accident, and we were able to stay here for three weeks while he recovered. THANKS!!” In addition to donor and other areas of support, volunteers give of their time and talents to keep the house running.

2022 Wave Award Winners

Category: Community Service Programs
Program: “Leaving a Legacy Memory Huggables”
Organization: Partners of Crossing Rivers Health, Prairie du Chien

This program was developed to support family and friends who are coping with the loss of a loved one. The Partners of Crossing Rivers Health (CRH) transform a piece of clothing into a huggable memory bear or pillow. This compassionate response to people who are grieving supports the organization’s overall goals of caring for the community, positively impacting mental health and supporting health and wellness. A volunteer writes, “These special pillows and bears help ease the pain for when someone is missing a loved one, holds silent witness to the one’s sorrow and also serves as a cuddly reminder of the one who has passed.”

Category: In-service Hospital Volunteer Programs
Program: “Blue Tote Bags”
Organization: SSM Health St. Mary’s Madison Volunteers, Madison

The Blue Tote Bag program is a volunteer sewing program that provides patients and hospital staff reusable tote bags from leftover medical sterilization wrap material. The benefits of the program include saving the hospital money by sending patients home with a reusable bag, as opposed to a disposable one, as well as providing staff with a recycled reusable bag. This innovative and environmentally friendly program is a forward-thinking approach to an age-old issue of overloading our landfills with materials that will take hundreds of years to degrade. This, coupled with the cost saving benefits to the hospital, make this program a practical and enduring practice that can be maintained at SSM Health St. Mary’s Madison for years to come, but can also be duplicated easily at other hospitals.

Category: Fundraising Programs
Program: “Bakeless Bake Sale"
Organization: Mercy Hospital Volunteers at Ascension Mercy Hospital, Oshkosh

During COVID, it was not possible to hold the normal in-person bake sales that Mercy Hospital Volunteers typically held twice a year. The “bakeless” concept involved asking volunteers to provide monetary donations, as opposed to baked goods. Each year, a program is selected to receive the proceeds from this event. The result has been an event that not only takes significantly less effort to coordinate and complete, but also has raised two and a half times the amount of money that the traditional bake sales raised. While we hope COVID is mostly behind us, this is a program that can endure whether a pandemic is upon us or not. The programs receiving the proceeds from this event are able to continue their mission of supporting the community, which in turn means a healthier community. 

Category: Community Outreach and/or Collaboration Programs
Program: "Rainbow’s End Camp"
Organization: Aspirus Wausau Hospital Volunteers, Wausau

Rainbow’s End is a summer day camp for children ages 5-21. This camp provides children with physical, cognitive and/or emotional challenges the opportunity to interact with their peers in a safe and competition-free environment that is fun and inspires creativity and self-confidence. A mother of a camper writes, “The Aspirus Rainbow’s End Camp for our family means that our child is able to be a part of typical summer activities that children enjoy with their peers. The focus is not his disability, but rather celebrating the unique and sweet little boy that he is.” The camp benefits Aspirus Wausau Hospital by connecting some of the patients who were born in the NICU or cared for in the Outpatient Therapy Clinic with this unique opportunity to support them as they grow and integrate into the community.

Community Service Programs: “First Breath Gift Basket”, Friends of Vernon Memorial Healthcare, Viroqua
In-service Hospital Volunteer Programs: “Switch’n It Up” Aspirus Volunteers of Medford, Medford
Fundraising Programs: “RE TAG IT", Mercyhealth Association of Volunteers, Janesville
Community Outreach and/or Collaboration Programs: "Hunger Care Program", Volunteers of Prairie Ridge Health, Columbus

No awards given for 2020 because of the pandemic.

Community Service Program: “Partners Emergency Department Service Project”, Partners of Beaver Dam Community Hospital, Beaver In-service Hospital Volunteer Program: “Hospital Elder Life Program”, Auxiliary of Howard Young Medical Center, Woodruff

Fundraising Program: “Volunteer Community Brat Fry" , Aspirus Medford Hospital & Clinics, Aspirus Volunteers, Medford
Community Outreach and/or Collaboration Program: "First Aid & Trauma Kits", Partners of Marshfield Medical Center - Ladysmith, Ladysmith

Community Service Program: “Babysitting Clinic”, Partners of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chippewa Falls

In-service Hospital Volunteer Program: “Patient Comfort Hand Massage” , SSM Health-St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary, Madison

Fundraising Program: “Snowflake Bazaar", Aurora West Allis Medical Center Women's Auxiliary

Community Outreach and/or Collaboration Program: "Healthy Kids Club", Aurora Memorial Hospital of Burlington Volunteers

Community Service Program: “Dignity Quilts”, River Falls Area Hospital Auxiliary, River Falls

In-service Hospital Volunteer Program: “Discharge with Dignity”, Ascension Good Samaritan Volunteers, Merrill

Fundraising Program: “Rag Cutters", Flambeau Hospital Auxiliary, Park Falls

Community Outreach and/or Collaboration Program: "Santa’s Workshop-Enchantment in the Park", Partners of St. Joseph’s Hospital, West Bend

St. Croix Regional Medical Center Volunteer Partners, St. Croix Falls - Little Free Library

St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary, Madison - No One Dies Alone

Volunteers in Partnership with Community Memorial Hospital, Menomonee Falls - Weekly Cookie Sale

Partners of HSHS St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chippewa Falls - Community Garden

Aspirus - Wausau - We Honor Veterans

Mercy Health System - Janesville - Emergency Department Volunteers

HSHS St. Vincent Hospital - Green Bay - Fashions from the Heart

HSHS St. Joseph's Hospital - Chippewa Falls - Dementia Friendly Business Initiative


Beaver Dam - Craft Fair

Menominee Falls - Community Garden

Janesville, Mercy Hospital Volunteers - Onocology Volunteer Program

La Crosse, Gundersen Partners - Alzheimer's Care Givers Kit

.For more ideas from winning projects, you can read the programs from 2013, 2012, and 2011

On April 29, 2019 at noon, Partners hosted an informational call regarding the WAVE and the Best of the Best Award nominations.  Unfortunately, due to a technical error, the call was cut off. 

To hear the recording, click here.

The remainder of the answer that was cut off was to list organizations that were included in the collaboration.

Thank you to Joyce Breen, WAVE Chair, and Arletta Trejo, Best of the Best Chair, for sharing their expertise.

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