Governor honors André House duo with Volunteer Service Award

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Jack and Joan Butler received a Volunteer Service Award from Governor Doug Ducey. It was their 30-plus years at André House that earned them the title. (courtesy photo)

Joan and Jack Butler didn’t need another title at André House nor did they ask for one. According to the governor though, they earned it.

Governor Doug Ducey honored the Butlers with a Volunteer Service Award in the “Lifetime Community Service” category Dec. 7. It’s one that’s only open to volunteers who showed the ideals of service for over 25 years.

André House was established in 1984 and the Butlers’ names were just as much fixtures then as they are now. They were the house of hospitality’s original cooks, bookkeeper and board members. They helped put “house” in the largely volunteer-run organization by guiding the acquisition of a permanent building.

Medical issues forced Jack to step back in 2015, but Joan continues to care for André House guests when she’s able to break away from caring for her husband.

As volunteers the couple balanced kindness, compassion and dignity among the often “hard, arduous and tiresome work” often required at André House, according to their nomination form. “Jack and Joan were suited perfectly for this challenge and always made it fun, relaxing and filled with the energy of hope.”

Joan handled Tuesday night meals. She also served as mediator when needed, but never forgot to serve up a wam smile and kind voice alongside the regular menu. Jack helped with meals too, but his forte was accounting and finance. He guided the process for making André House a nonprofit.

Reflecting on the state motto, “Ditat deus,” which loosely translates to “God enriches,” Holy Cross Father Tom Doyle, executive director of André House, said the Butlers “have helped to enrich our community in a way that changes all of us for the better.”

The Butlers expanded the volunteer database in the early days by inviting neighbors, professional contacts and community contacts to help. Those volunteers often passed down their love of André House to later generations.

Their “template of volunteerism can be seen in the eyes of thousands of volunteers that come through the Andre House open doors, many of them youth, learning about community service for the first time; many of them corporate with no exposure to the extreme blight they will witness as they come to Andre House,” their nomination form said.

André House isn’t the only place the Butlers volunteered. Jack volunteered at St. Joseph the Worker, an outreach that developed when André House guests requested employment support.

Catholic Charities Community Services awarded the couple with “The Prophet Amos Award” in 2008 for 25 years work in the community. Most Holy Trinity Parish knew the Butlers over the years as Vincentians and Ministry of Care members.