The United Way of Chatham County recognized several local volunteers on Sunday, May 22 for their outstanding volunteer work in the community. Held at First United Methodist Church, the event hosted almost 100 people. Sheriff Richard Webster served as the event’s Master of Ceremonies.
The keynote speaker and United Way Board member Suzanne Wise spoke about the value of volunteerism. She noted some historical examples of volunteerism, shared some personal stories and invited attendees to think about the powerful outcomes of making a difference, no matter how small, in someone’s life.
Entertainment was provided by “Sisters Voices,” a locally renowned girls’ chorus group. Eight girls ranging in age from six to ten-years-old sang a few of their favorite songs, which was accompanied by the music of an autoharp. Several songs featured three-part harmony, which was skillfully executed.
Chatham County Commissioner Chairman Jim Crawford presented each honoree with a framed certificate signed by all the County Commissioners, as well as a certificate of state recognition, which was signed by the Governor.
Mindy Brown, a volunteer of Council on Aging, received the first award. Brown has volunteered with the Chatham County Council on Aging for the past two years as a Home Delivered Meals volunteer. While most volunteers serve one route per week, Brown serves up to three routes, delivering a nutritious, hot lunch to homebound seniors in need. In the past year, she has volunteered 102 days, driven almost 1,350 miles and delivered 689 meals.
“Mindy shows great love and dedication to her community through her many acts of kindness that go above and beyond the call of duty for the typical home delivered meals volunteer. The magnitude of Mindy’s weekly giving can only be seen as a true, extraordinary example of volunteering for her community and as a blessing to the homebound seniors on her route,” said Crawford.
Rusty Davis, a volunteer of Chatham Central High School, received the next award. Davis volunteers an average of fifteen to twenty hours a week to accommodate the two to four home events every week at Chatham Central. He uses his vacation time from his fulltime job to work on special projects at the school including installing a new batting cage, painting bear claws on the driveway of the sports complex and coordinating the Booster Club fundraiser.
“Rusty takes extreme pride in the appearance of the campus and works tirelessly to ensure that it represents the school well. His selfless attitude, attention to detail and commitment to excellence is contagious and makes him the perfect role model for our rural community,” Crawford said.
James Farrington was honored for his work at CORA Food Pantry. Farrington has volunteered three days a week for six years at CORA Food Pantry. In the past year, he contributed 600 hours, which was 10% of all volunteer hours logged. Within the last year, he helped to distribute approximately 220 tons of food to Chatham County families in need.
“Everyone at CORA relies on Jim for his wisdom, reliability, forthrightness, humor, constant positive attitude and his ability to make everyone’s job at the pantry enjoyable,” said Crawford.
The next award went to Bob and Sandy Holton who started an internal fundraiser to build the Galloway Resident Reserve Fund for Benevolent Care. The reserve fund was established to assist residents whose savings had been depleted near the end of their lives, often attributed to unexpected medical expenses.
“Bob and Sandy Holton have volunteered almost 600 hours a year co-chairing the committee that organizes the “Galloway Ridge Gala,” which raises money for the fund. The Gala is a ticketed dinner that is preceded by a silent auction and followed by entertainment. It has raised $45,000 each of the two years it’s been in existence. In addition, the efforts of the Holton’s, and the resulting publicity, led to a one million dollar bequest to the fund,” said Crawford.
Gillian Rogers was also recognized for her selfless dedication to her community. Rogers is a literacy mentor at Virginia Cross Elementary School. She works one-on-one with kindergarten through second grade students in need of support with literacy skills on a weekly basis. With her help, students learn the letters of the alphabet, first sounds and advanced reading skills.
“Gillian’s efforts in mentoring and recruitment of other volunteers have helped reduce reading deficits in participating kindergarten students. Literacy is the foundation for all learning and Gillian’s volunteer work helps to ensure that the students have the best start possible,” said Crawford.
Last but not least, Joan Zollinger was recognized for her volunteer efforts at Galloway Ridge. “Joan spent 15 hours per week setting up the Galloway Ridge “Turnaround Shop,”cleaning and pricing items. At the end of the first year of operation, the store had netted $12,000. By the end of the second year, net sales totaled $25,000. This resulted in $18,000 being donated to the Galloway Ridge Resident Reserve Fund for Benevolent Care and $7,000 being donated to the Employee Emergency Relief Fund,” said Crawford. Zollinger was unable to attend the award ceremony so her nominator, Bob Holton, accepted the award on her behalf.
Sheriff Richard Webster provided closing remarks and encouraged agencies, churches and schools to submit their most active volunteers for recognition in the upcoming years.