Photo Gallery | Volunteers honored for outstanding service
COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) – In observance of National Volunteer Week, Volunteer Columbus! presented the annual Columbus Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service during a ceremony April 25 at the Cooperative Extension Service. Any individual, group or organization in Columbus County whose volunteer activities benefit the community or the state of North Carolina in a substantial, important or unique way was eligible for this award.
County Commissioner James Prevattte presented the award to Jonathan Lanehart of Western Prong, who was nominated for his 16 years of volunteer service to the Boy Scouts of America. He is active with Troop 512 as well as committees on the district and regional council level. According to nominator, Steve Smith, “He is an excellent role model for the youth. He is known throughout the Cape Fear Council (8-county region) as one of the most reliable, experienced, professional and ethical adult volunteer scout leaders.” Additionally, he has served 20 years with the North Whiteville Fire Department.
Bogue Community Citizens Association Volunteer Team, and Whiteville-area residents Faye Merritt, Retha Thompson, and Paula Worthington were also nominated for the award.
Bogue Community Citizens Association Volunteer Team, represented by Mary Horne, was nominated for serving home-delivered meals to home-bound senior citizens, every day, five days a week for 15 years. The group members work as a team and support each other. Horne is a leader filled with love, according to the nomination, and the team members consider the ministry to be blessing to themselves.
Merritt was nominated for nine years of service as treasurer to New Hope Baptist Church and 12 years of service to RSVP. She always has a smile for those walking by or visiting the Sunshine Shoppe at the hospital. She is a wonderful Christian always willing to be of service and lend a hand, according to the nomination.
Retha Thompson loves helping others. She was nominated for 15 years of service through RSVP and a lifetime of service to her church. Rhonda Bullard-Dutton, who nominated Thompson for the award, stated, “Wherever there is a need you can find Ms. Retha!” In addition to her church work, she volunteers at Columbus Regional Healthcare System, Southeastern Community College, Lower Cape Fear Hospice, Retired School Personnel, and many other places. Last year alone she volunteered more than 712 hours.
Paula Worthington was nominated for her service as an advocate, proctor and friendly visitor. Despite medical and physical challenges, Paula continues to give to others. She does not use her personal challenges as an excuse. “Her demeanor and spirit conveys the strong message of love, support, reassurance,” stated Melody Prevatte, who nominated Worthington. “This young lady has the heart and spirit that is far too rare.”
The 2012 recipients for the Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service were also recognized for their outstanding volunteer service resulting in lasting impacts in Columbus County. The 2012 recipients were Marguerite Lennon of Evergreen, Mike Bartley of Western Prong and Angie Sutton of Whiteville. The awards were presented by County Commissioner James Prevatte.
Lennon, recognized for her more than 65 years of volunteer service, also received the Governor’s Medallion Award, which is presented to the top 20 volunteers in the state. Lennon was presented the award in the Lifetime Achievement service category. This category recognizes individuals who have exhibited a lifelong commitment to volunteerism and community service. Nominees must have made a substantial and sustained impact in the community as a result of their service. Lennon’s nomination was based primarily on her service through the Cooperative Extension Service.
As the first state officer in the Home Demonstration Club for North Carolina, she likely changed the health and safety of many on N.C. roadways. During a trip to Wisconsin she noticed that the roads were lined with white stripes. She further noticed that these lines were very helpful in navigating at night and in inclement weather. When she returned to N.C., she asked the department of transportation when our state would receive the lines. As a result of this conversation, her request was added to the DOT’s agenda, and in two weeks she received a letter from Governor Sanford, thanking her for her suggestion and concern and informing her that N.C. would indeed have white lines. Lennon also served on the committee conducting the needs study for a community college in Columbus County. The college was formed in 1964 and served Columbus, Robeson, Brunswick, Bladen and Pender counties. She was one of the Founders of the Columbus County Literacy Council and served that board for 25 years. She has also served on the Columbus County Department of Aging Advisory Council. Lennon stated, “I don’t know the word, “can’t.” I try not to say “no.” The Lord has given me an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.”
Bartley was recognized for his individual service to the North Whiteville Volunteer Fire Department. He has been the fire chief for more than 20 years and dedicates five to eight hours each week to the fire department. Nominator Maria Hyatt stated, “His leadership has led the rest of the firemen in growing and improving in the volunteer duties. His leadership has led the way to purchasing new and more advanced equipment to aid in the firefighting activities and also to help keep the firefighters safe.”
Sutton was nominated for her individual service to volunteerism. Despite significant medical and physical challenges, Sutton organized Columbus County’s first breast cancer support group, TaTa Sisters: A sisterhood of Survivors. For more than two years, Sutton has been the group coordinator/facilitator. She is known for her “go-getter” attitude, outgoing personality and the desire to help in any way she can. Nominator Maria Hyatt stated, “There is a great need for support and awareness of this disease that is spreading through the country at alarming rates. This group is impacting the community and county by bringing breast cancer from a silent disease to a disease that can be overcome with knowledge and awareness.”
The event was sponsored by Volunteer Columbus!, an affiliate of the North Carolina Association of Volunteer Administrators. This group meets to discuss management and training needs for volunteer managers and resources for volunteers. Agencies supporting the event include CM Hunt Ministries, Columbus County Volunteer Center, Cooperative Extension Service, Four-County Community Services, Guardian ad Litem, Partnership for Children and the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program. To learn more about Volunteer Columbus! or about volunteer opportunities in the community, contact Melody Prevatte at 642-7141, ext. 294.