Joseph Hicks receives Governor’s Medallion for volunteer service

By John Bailey

Sixteen food drives organized last year. Two, Little Free Food Pantries built. A lemonade stand set up with sales benefiting disabled veterans, and a snack cart built to hand out snacks and water to veterans at the VA Hospital in Asheville.

Joseph Hicks

This is just a short list of some of the reasons 10-year-old Joseph Hicks was recognized at the recent Catawba County Board of Commissioner’s meeting as one of the recipients of this year’s North Carolina Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service. Usually, this award is presented during a Governor’s recognition ceremony in Raleigh, but it was cancelled this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

The Catawba County United Way was thrilled to organize the presentation of Joseph’s Medallion Award at the Board of Commissioner’s meeting. No more than 25 individuals throughout the state receive this recognition annually. Joseph is one of several others who have represented Catawba County as Medallion Awardees in recent years.

This honor goes to those who represent the spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service.

Joseph was nominated for the Medallion Award by the Catawba County United Way because of his work with the Catawba County Backpack Program, Hickory Greenway Harvest and Cooperative Extension 4-H. Previously. He won the 2019 Youth Catawba County United Way Volunteer Center Giving From the Heart award after being nominated by all three of the above agencies.

“The Backpack Program has had a longstanding reputation as an agency that engages children of all ages in the process of packing and delivering bags as well as fundraising,” Backpack Program Coordinator Amanda Freeland said. “Joseph was quick to participate in all three of those necessary pieces: packing food bags, delivering food bags to children in the schools, and raising much needed funds to purchase food.”

Freeland believes it is essential to recognize the work young people do to help others and inspire the community.

“Joseph is an average 10-year-old in many ways but his heart for others and willingness to serve others is an exceptional quality I pray never fades,” Freeland said.

The Catawba County United Way also nominated Vickie Scott, Pat Anderson and JoAnn Spees for the 2020 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. Scott was the 2019 Giving from the Heart individual volunteer winner, while Anderson and Spees were the group volunteer winner.

If you would like to learn about local volunteer opportunities, visit the Catawba County United Way online at or call 828-327-6851.