A husband and wife were dual recipients of this year’s Linda and Jerry Vandeveer Impact Award, which was presented by the Allen County Board of Commissioners on Sept. 28.
Josh and Jenny Hartup received the 2020 award, which is presented annually to an individual or individuals who reside in Allen County and have lived a life of service to the community outside their regular profession.
Josh Hartup is a sergeant with the Fort Wayne Police Department, and Jenny Hartup is a Fort Wayne Community Schools teacher. The couple has worked extensively with the Guns ‘N’ Hoses charity since 2010, providing assistance to first responders and their families when unexpected expenses are not covered by insurance. They were also recognized for their work in securing a $10,000 grant for the Law Enforcement/Firefighters Memorial from the Goldstine Foundation for granite needed to finish the memorial monuments, which Josh Hartup said was likely the beginning of the couple’s dedication to community service. He also helped organize police officers to find sponsors to donate money to Special Olympics in honor of officers who participate in the Polar Plunge each winter.
Jenny Hartup, a teacher at Jefferson Middle School, received a community service award in 2019 from the Indiana State Teachers Association for her involvement with Guns ‘N’ Hoses. That same year, she was also honored by the Indiana Fraternal Order of Police for her volunteer work with the local FOP.
The construction of the Law Enforcement/Firefighters Memorial, on Wells Street in Fort Wayne, was overseen by Jerry Vandeveer, who continues to care for the monument today. The Linda and Jerry Vandeveer Impact Award is named for Jerry Vandeveer and his late wife, Linda, who made investments in downtown Fort Wayne, helped lead efforts to reduce crime in the Baker Street and Fairfield Avenue area, and built the Police Memorial Garden at the corner of Baker and Fairfield in 2000.
“I haven’t known many recipients before, but I do know Josh and Jenny, and I know they are well-deserving of this award,” Jerry Vandeveer said. “I’m honored to give this award. I will be even more honored to give a hug to a cop.”
The Hartups received a personal plaque, and their names will be included on a permanent plaque kept in the commissioners’ office. They also received a $250 check from Fire Police City County Federal Credit Union from an account established by an anonymous donor for recipients of the annual award.
Two other nominees were honored during the ceremony: Angela O’Neill for her volunteer work with the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo and ACRES Land Trust, and Kristina Scherer for establishing the Lucky Racer Junior Ski Racing Scholarship Program for junior skiers or adults with exceptional needs. O’Neill and Scherer each received a special certificate and a $50 check from the donor account.
The Allen County Board of Commissioners established the Linda and Jerry Vandeveer Impact Award in 2016. Nominees are evaluated for their vision and action, selflessness and sacrifice, commitment and perseverance, and the impact their work has had on the community, following the example and tradition set by the Vandeveers.
“A lot of people don’t think they can make a difference or an impact or anything like that, or they think they have to have a certain amount of wealth or something. But, it’s not that — it’s actually just getting up and taking some sort of action …” Gerald Vandeveer, Jerry and Linda Vandeveer’s son, said during the Sept. 28 ceremony. “At one point, our family had lost everything — our house, our cars, everything. Something that was inspiring was my parents never stopped. They just always pushed forward, even when things were dire, and it wasn’t just push forward for us, it was push forward for everyone.”