BETHANY, W.Va. — Bethany College is proud to announce that Sharon (Patterson) Norlander ‘80 has been selected as this year’s recipient of the prestigious Alumni Community Service Award. This honor recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact through their dedication to serving their communities, embodying the values and spirit of Bethany College. 

Norlander and her husband, Mark, have demonstrated exceptional commitment to community service, particularly in their efforts to assist and support refugees resettling in the Twin Cities, Minn.

For years, Norlander selflessly devoted her time, resources, and boundless compassion to help refugees find a new home and hope in the United States. Her remarkable work goes beyond mere resettlement; she has also opened her heart and home to sponsor a family of five, the Holiuks from Ukraine, welcoming them into her own family. 

“Sharon (Patterson) Norlander is a quiet servant,” says Lynn Nakashian ‘78, who nominated Norlander. “Born to two Bethany alumni, Sharon embodies Alexander Campbell’s purpose: to prepare students to become useful and responsible members of society by liberating them from superstition and ignorance, the tyranny of others, and ’vulgar prejudices.’  Sharon and her family have made the Minneapolis area less prejudiced and more welcoming. As volunteers, they were the first to embrace a Ukrainian family through a global humanitarian agency to Minn. The family, a mom, dad, and their three young daughters, were caught in the bombing and fled, eventually making their way to the Patterson Norlander family.” 

Norlander’s remarkable dedication to making a difference in the lives of those in need has not gone unnoticed. Her exemplary service has garnered national attention, with features on major media outlets, including CBS and NPR. This recognition is a testament to the far-reaching impact of her work and the inspiring example she sets for others. 

“This year’s Community Service Award recipient, like so many Bethanians, exemplifies what it means to give back to one’s community,” says Alumni Council President Angie Bado ’77. “Sharon Patterson Norlander has been working alongside her husband to provide food, shelter, and necessities to Ukrainian refugees. Refusing to feel powerless, she saw a need and she and her husband took action, and yes, they are working to change the world, one relationship at a time. The Alumni Council is proud to bestow this recognition on Sharon, who is clearly making an enormous difference in her community.” 

Bethany College is thrilled to honor Norlander for her exceptional commitment to community service and her outstanding contributions to society.