Ashe County Board of Commissioners recognized over 200 volunteers with a special ceremony last Thursday evening.
The 27th Annual Ashe County Volunteer Awards Ceremony included recognition of volunteers in the categories of community, individual, senior, youth, church, school and business with individuals and organizations receiving a certificate of appreciation and a block of Ashe County Cheese.
Entertainment was provided by the New River Chordsmen (barbershop quartet) and the Ashe County High School Cans & Pans steel drum band.
County Manager Pat Mitchell opened the program and introduced Commissioners Judy Poe, Larry Rhodes, Gerald Price, William Sands and Gary Roark. The commissioners introduced each category, and nominee names were read by emcee Gary Poe.
At the conclusion of the evening, volunteers of the year were announced in the following categories (with part of the winning essays presented):
Business - High Country Health Care Hospice
The High Country Health Care Hospice Volunteers are a very special group of people. I like to refer to them as “Rays of Sunshine” because that is what they do, bring sunshine to the lives of our patients and their families. The volunteers provide respite for caregivers by sitting with the patient which allows them to go out to appointments, run errands, or just take a much needed break from time to time. They give not only their time but they give lots of love and compassion to those facing terminal illnesses.
Religious individual or group - Fletcher Memorial Baptist Church
Fletcher Memorial Baptist Church, located in the town of Jefferson, exemplifies community service at its best as it seeks to integrate its centrally located facilities and the giving nature of its membership into the broader field of community service in Ashe County and beyond. The church allows community and public groups to use its facilities on a regular basis for meetings, special events, and fundraising activities. Benevolence plays a central role in the life of the church. Over 20 percent of the annual church budget is earmarked for missions, and the largest portions of the distribution of these funds remains in Ashe County.
Community Organizations - Friends of the Ashe County Public Library and The Praise Brigade
Friends of the Library
We understand that public funding is limited, especially at times like these, and so we work to provide the best within our budgets, and dream about what might be possible if only we had the money. This is where a good ‘Friends of the Library’ group can come to the rescue. Having the most up-to-date technology is a dream not many libraries can afford just now, but thanks to the Friends of the Ashe County Public Library, it may be a reality for us. On February 22, at their first meeting of the year, our Friends approved a donation of $14,898 to purchase security gates, the single most expensive piece of equipment necessary to install Radio Frequency Identification technology in the library. If our grant application is successful, this generous donation will serve as matching funds for the Library Services and Technology Act grant of over $61,000. Our Friends also encourage gifts and memorials for the library, enhance community awareness of the library, sponsor interesting programs designed to add to the cultural life of the community, and inform the community about the library’s services and programs.
The Praise Brigade
The Praise Brigade is a group of Westwood Elementary School students in grades first through fourth and their moms who began meeting every month for Bible study, crafts, outreach, and fellowship. Their mission is to teach the girls that everyone is not as fortunate as they are and that things can get tough sometimes. They want them to have a heart for the less fortunate, the sick, the elderly, and to be friends with others who many not have very much. They have taken on several projects throughout the year.
Human Service - Josephine Johnson
While families in our community struggle to care for their loved ones, Josephine Johnson answered the call, the call to be a senior companion. She has volunteered for approximately 16 years. This past year she has contributed 1033 hours to helping others.
Individual - Dr. Walter Davis and Linda Payne
Dr. Walter Davis
Dr. Walter Davis is a retired medical oncologist who moved to Ashe County in 2003 and worked at the Seby B. Jones Cancer Center in Boone until retiring in 2009. Every Wednesday and Thursday Dr. Davis can be found working as volunteer provider at the Ashe County Free Medical Clinic. He networks with other physicians who serve with him on the Board of Ashe Memorial Hospital and who are his neighbors at Jefferson Landing to solicit advice on patient medical problems that are beyond his expertise.
Linda Payne has given many volunteer hours to the 1904 Courthouse (Museum of Ashe County History). She has worked with local crafters and artisans to offer their wares in the gift shop to showcase Ashe County, benefit the crafters, and to progress the 1904 Courthouse. Linda coordinates volunteers work schedule that keeps the doors open for the museum and gift shop. She is dedicated by being there most days of the week.
Senior - Hewey Testerman
While families in our community struggle to care for their loved ones, Hewey Testerman has risen to the call, the call to be a senior companion. He has volunteered for approximately 14 years. This past year he has contributed 1162 hours to helping others.
Youth - Elijah Dejonge
Elijah is a very active youth at Fletcher Memorial Baptist Church who is always ready to step up to the front when there is a project that he can assist with. He is in charge of the sound system weekly for each service. He is also very active in a monthly project at Ashe Really Cares, food drives, Threads of Hope/BROC and projects for the elderly as he assists with the recreation activities for the week.
School/Mentor - Michelle Pelayo
Michelle Pelayo freely offers to hand out information during her parent nights and any county function where the Hispanic population might be present. Michelle hands out education material for the families who want assistance learning how to feed their family healthier meals for less money. Michelle translates parent letters and other education material used in school to Spanish so parents who only speak Spanish understand what their child has learned in class.
The commissioners also acknowledged four Governor’s Award winners for 2012.
Dru Thompson was nominated as program driver and advocate for Ashe Family Literacy. He transports students in the Family Literacy program to and from Family Central.
Silvio Bucci was nominated for his volunteer work at Riverview Community Center for over 10 years.
Zara Worley, age 14, was nominated as activity assistant/business office assistant at Villages of Ashe Assisted Living.
All 12 Volunteer Fire/Rescue Departments
This group of volunteers chooses to spend their personal time in both training as well as responding to emergency calls.
Congratulations to these and all of Ashe County’s amazing and dedicated volunteers. As Commissioner Judy Poe said, “Volunteers make a difference in Ashe County each day. In fact, each day in Ashe County, over 1,000 hours of service are given by volunteers like you.”
The program was organized by Ashe County Volunteer Coordinator Glenda Luther and her staff.