By John Bailey
They log in hundreds of work hours every week.
They help save hundreds of thousands of dollars every year.
They are the backbone of every local non-profit agency.
The Catawba County United Way Volunteer Center recently celebrated these heroes during the annual Giving From the Heart Volunteer Awards.
While the current pandemic forced the event to go virtual, it did not diminish the enthusiasm of local non-profit and public agencies from shining a light on their volunteers.
"Volunteers are such an important foundational part of our ministry," Christie Clary, Safe Harbor volunteer and outreach coordinator said. "Our volunteers fill crucial roles such as teachers, mentors, donation pick-up, drivers, administrative help. We have volunteers who are the first person to answer the phone when people call here for help."
More than 30 individuals and groups were nominated for this year’s awards in three categories.
The individual volunteer winner was Beth Bechtold, nominated by The Corner Table Soup Kitchen. The group volunteer winner was the Catawba Valley Quilter’s Guild, nominated by The Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center. The youth volunteer winner was Anna Grace Patel, nominated by Open Door Homeless Relief Program.
The winners will have $500 from PNG Foundation donated in their name to the non-profit of their choice.
“I want to thank all of you for all you do for this community,” Jennie Conner, Catawba County United Way executive director said during the virtual event. “We have so many wonderful people joining us in this celebration and being celebrated today.”
The 2020 individual nominees included: Teresa Abernathy – nominated by Safe Harbor, Cindy Boger – nominated by Catawba County 4-H, Kim Bolick nominated by The Corner Table Soup Kitchen, Michael Boone – nominated by Catawba Valley Community College, Danielle Cannon – nominated by Council on Adolescents of Catawba County, Lorie Castilleja – nominated by Safe Harbor, Beth Bechtold – nominated by The Corner Table Soup Kitchen, Crystal Cook – nominated by Safe Harbor, Ralph Dell – nominated by Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Leni Gorhner – nominated by Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, John Hardy – nominated by Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Frances Hilton – nominated by Hickory Soup Kitchen, Sarah Huffman – nominated by Hickory NAACP, Mike Johnson – nominated by Hickory Public Schools, Dr. Hemen Joshi – nominated by Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, Jacob Keller – nominated by Eastern Catawba Cooperative Christian Ministry, Sandie Loyer – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Brad McNeely – nominated by Safe Harbor, Nereida “Shayna” Olavarria – nominated by The Salvation Army Crisis Help Center, Kathy Ridenhour – nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Steve Rudisill – nominated by Humane Society of Catawba County, Teresa Slaughter – nominated by Meals on Wheels of Catawba County, Rose Sipe – nominated by Safe Harbor and Jack Wade – nominated by Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry.
Group nominees included: Steven Fee and Richard Colton – nominated by Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry, Fostering Hope Catawba – nominated by Catawba County Department of Social Services, Catawba Valley Quilter’s Guild – nominated by The Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center and Cori Thompson and Laurie Modlin – nominated by Safe Harbor.
Youth nominees included: Brynne Van Allsburg – nominated by Safe Harbor; Holly Cable, Luke Fountain, Katie Whalen – nominated by Blackburn Elementary School; Catawba County Youth Council – nominated by Catawba County 4-H and Anna Grace Patel – nominated by Open Door Homeless Relief Program.
The 2020 NC Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service Recipients included: Joseph Hicks – Youth Group and Medallion Award winner, Vickie Scott – Individual Recipient and Pat Anderson and JoAnn Spees – Group Recipient.
Sponsors for 2020 included Premier Partner – Piedmont Natural Gas and PNC Bank and Bronze Partner Broome Associates.
WHKY Radio Host Hal Row volunteered his services again to read the list of nominees and to announce the winners, while CCUW Board President and Catawba Valley Community College Executive Vice President Keith Mackie opened the event thanking all the nominees for their hard work.
If you missed the virtual event you can watch it on the Catawba County United Way’s Facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/catawbacountyunitedway/videos/380855323335571