East Lansing recognizes community volunteers at Crystal Awards Ceremony

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By Jessica McGregor and Marisol Dorantes
Entirely East Lansing staff writers

East Lansing — The Crystal Awards have been an East Lansing tradition for 25 years. Members of the community are recognized at this event for their volunteer services throughout the community and are nominated by fellow residents.

The Crystal Awards Ceremony is a free event and members of the community are encouraged to attend.

“The Crystal Awards are an annual opportunity for East Lansing to recognize unsung heroes in our community. People who have gone above and beyond in their volunteer service and have really added to what East Lansing is and to the life of our town,” said Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett.

Nominees go through a process where a selection committee of city residents chooses four finalists.

“I was on the selection committee for the Crystal Awards; it was an amazing experience. I was inspired by all of the volunteers and what happens in this community. Some of the people I knew and I was aware of or their organizations, and some I had had no experience with before but I left the experience thinking, ‘My goodness what an incredible community,’” said East Lansing resident Liesel Carlson.

Marsha Bristor, Dr. Dale Bartlett, Summer Circle Theatre and Eric ‘RicStar’ Winter of Music Therapy Camp were chosen to receive the Crystal Award.

Residents and family members came out to support the nominees. Among the supporters were Richard Winter’s parents and Marsha Bristor’s fellow library volunteers.

“It’s always good to see the community supporting a lot of the people that deserve recognition,” said Curious Book Shop owner Ray Walsh.

Triplett said, “It really is one of the highlights of the calendar in East Lansing every year and it’s a good way for us to recognize the contributions of people who are not seeking out recognition, but who we really should call out on the great contributions they make to East Lansing and helping us really make this community what it is.”

The awards ceremony began at 6 p.m. when they announced the Eric ‘RicStar’ Winter Music Therapy Camp as the first to receive the Crystal Award.

Judy and Richard Winter began RicStar Music Camp in June 2003 to honor their son Eric after he passed away. Eric had cerebral palsy and although “he had a hard time talking,” said his grandfather Ken Winter, “he loved music.”

Judy Winter said, “Ten years ago we suffered the worst loss imaginable and to see what has happened in that ten years because we chose to honor his love for music is just nothing short of remarkable.”

Marsha Bristor was the second recipient. She has given 13 years to the city of East Lansing, volunteering in the library for about 30 hours a week. Bristor manages the Friendshop at the library, which is the East Lansing Public Library’s used bookshop and she has donated money and other resources to the library.

Third to receive the award was Summer Circle Theatre, which is in its 52nd year, the longest running live program in the region, according to the city. The Summer Circle Theatre has entertained the community with 200 free plays over the past 52 years.

The final recipient was Dr. Dale Bartlett for his community outreach by participating in the Arts Chorale of Greater Lansing and providing scholarships for Michigan State University music students.

The award ceremony recognized many of the good Samaritans in East Lansing and proved to be an event that brought together the community.

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