BY KATHY KNIGHT
There were eight awards given to two individuals and six groups at the 13th Annual Volunteer Spirit Awards Celebration held Tuesday night at the Crescent Building.
Many different ages were represented among those nominated and those receiving awards.
The annual program of the Volunteer Center of Greeneville/Greene County is presented in cooperation with The Greeneville Sun, which financially sponsors the awards. The Sun does not select the winners.
All nominees were praised for their achievements, with cash awards given to two individuals and six groups selected as the 2013 winners.
Winning groups each received a plaque and $400, while winning individuals each received a plaque and $250.
The award money was provided by The Greeneville Sun to further assist winning individuals and groups in their volunteer activities and projects.
The individual winners included the following:
* Tyler Showman, a junior at Greeneville High School, was nominated by Jennifer Reynolds for exemplary participation in the Greene County Youth Council.
A member of the Youth Council program for two years, Showman has volunteered 149 hours, giving back to the community the equivalent of more than $3,299 in volunteer service.
Some of his work has involved the annual Antique & Appraisal Fair, the Parenting Fair, Comcare, the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County and the Library Book Sale.
* Karen Strange is retired from the work force, and has developed an outstanding free After-School Program for children ages kindergarten through fifth grade on Wednesday afternoons at Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church.
The group is known as The Gabriels and has grown to include 50 children from four area schools and nearly 20 adult and youth volunteers.
Andy Blackwelder, director of Youth and Children at the Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church, nominated Strange "for being a person who passionately believes in what she is doing. Those who come into contact with Karen walk away with a better understanding of what selfless love looks like."
These organizations received awards:
* The Elementary School Group of the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County have learned the importance of giving back to their community, developing positive self-images and earning pride for accomplishment, said Scott Bullington, executive director.
Some of their projects included Kinser Park cleanup, Christmas caroling at a few local banks, collecting coats and food, picking up trash, and visiting nursing homes.
* The Middle School Group of the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County have learned that working together teaches them teamwork, decision-making, and planning, while giving back to their community, Bullington said.
These students have planted flowers, picked up litter, collected cans of food and coats, visited the elderly in the nursing homes, collected dog and cat food for the Greeneville-Greene County Humane Society, and stuffed 300 goody bags for the Ladies Classic basketball tournament.
* The Greene County Youth Council is made up of 90 high school students representing all five local high schools.
In the past year they volunteered more than 1,000 hours, assisting such groups as the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County, Keep Greene Beautiful, Comcare, the Greeneville Parks & Recreation Department, Gifts for Kids, the Parenting Fair, the Antique & Appraisal Fair, The Band Perry concert, the March of Dimes' March For Babies, and the Library Book Sale.
* The Service Learners of Walters State Community College Greeneville/Greene County Campus are challenged to make a difference in the community.
In the past year 126 students have provided food and assistance to individuals in the community, donating 5,314 pounds of food to the Food Bank; 65 students donated 475 toys to Gifts For Kids; 230 students donated 130 units of blood to Medic, plus many other projects.
* The Greene County Firewood Ministry provides firewood to residents of Greene County who do not have the means or physical ability to acquire it for themselves.
During the past heating season the ministry delivered 902 loads of firewood to 221 households to be used as primary or supplemental heat.
It is estimated that 700-800 people were served by the 25-35 regular volunteers who work each Saturday during the heating season.
The volunteers come from several Greeneville churches. The group averages 1,000 plus hours of work per month through the heating season.
* The University of Tennessee Greene County Master Gardeners have been consistently collaborating with the Boys & Girls Club of Greeneville & Greene County for the past three years, offering bi-weekly ongoing education to the youngsters about healthy eating and healthy living.
Master Gardeners have been instrumental in the structure and design of the raised bed garden and the new greenhouse behind the club.
The members provide taste tests with the foods from the garden which are used for snacks.
Others recognized for their accomplishments during the evening were Hugh Broyles, Habitat for Humanity ReStore; Central Ballet School and Theatre; Judy Scheuch, volunteer at Takoma Regional Hospital; and Katherine Stephens, Habitat for Humanity ReStore.
Mary Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Volunteer Center, presented a special award to Jo Knabel, who has been a key volunteer for the center since moving to Greeneville five years ago,.
Fitzpatrick praised Knabel for giving unselfishly of her time and talents.
She has announced that she is retiring from the center to spend more time with her family.
Jann Mirkov, executive director of Main Street: Greeneville, was keynote speaker and talkedd about the "Value of Volunteers" in the community.
She quoted a friend who once said, "Volunteering is the price you pay for living in your community," and she thanked all those present for their volunteer spirit.
She noted that many of those present had been volunteers for Main Street: Greeneville itself.
In explaining the significance of volunteerism, Mirkov said that, during the last three years, more than 11,000 volunteer hours have been spent in Main Street programs -- and that, she said, only involves a 12-block area of downtown Greeneville.
She ended her remarks by saying, "Your volunteer hours are important and appreciated -- they do not go unnoticed -- it's amazing what we can do!"
The awards were presented jointly by John M. Jones Jr., editor of The Greeneville Sun, and his brother, Gregg K. Jones, the newspaper's co-publisher and the President/CEO of Jones Media, Inc.
John Jones congratulated the nominees on behalf of the newspaper, stating that he and his brother come from a four-generation family of volunteers, who taught them by example about volunteering.
He also mentioned that they see daily in their work at the newspaper the many contributions made by volunteers throughout the community.
"There is an incredible range of volunteer effort represented here tonight, both in age and experience," said Jones.
"It makes you feel confident in the future of our community. People make a conscious decision to volunteer -- we all appreciate volunteers."
Jones' final comment for the evening summed it up: "On behalf of the community and The Greeneville Sun, 'Thank you for what you do!'"
Others assisting in the program included Brian Cutshall, director of Online Operations for The Greeneville Sun, who served as master of ceremonies; Miss Greene County Sarah Stokely, a sophomore at WSCC, who sang the National Anthem; Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles and Greeneville Mayor W.T. Daniels, who presented certificates to the nominees and expressed thanks to the volunteers present; The Community Children's Chorus of Greeneville and the Community Youth Ensemble, under the direction of Angelia Woody, with pianist Mark Heron and trumpet soloist Jeff Bennington; Ken Earl, president of the Volunteer Center board, who gave the welcome; and Bob Windham, Volunteer Center treasurer, who gave the invocation.