United Way celebrates local volunteer heroes

By John Bailey



The Catawba County United Way recently celebrated the work of local volunteers during the annual Giving from the Heart (GFH) Volunteer Awards.

This year it returned to the Catawba Country Club on Nov. 18 as an in-person event and is the county’s annual opportunity to recognize those outstanding volunteers who make all the difference when it comes to helping local non-profits.

“These are the individuals who tirelessly seek out opportunities to improve our communities and to make the lives of those around us better every day,” Catawba County United Way Executive Director Mark Bumgarner said during the event. “We’re fortunate. We’re blessed to have them in our community, and to all of our volunteers, you are truly our heroes and our inspiration.”

Along with announcing the twenty-eight nominations made by local non-profits at the event, awards were also presented in all three categories (individual, youth and group).

The individual volunteer winner was Jack Edwards, nominated by Exodus Homes. 

GFH collage
2021 Giving from the Heart Volunteer Award nominees.

The group volunteer winner was Twisted Covenant Motorcycle Club, nominated by The Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center.

The youth volunteer winner was Jackson Stewart, nominated by YMCA, Hickory Soup Kitchen and Foothills Gymnastics.

The winners will each have $500 from the PNG Foundation donated in their name to the non-profit of their choice.

Being a volunteer is just part of life for Jack Edwards. His mother taught him the value of helping others when he was young, but he did stray for a while after drugs lured him down a different path.

“When I got the opportunity to come to Exodus Homes and work on getting my life back on track, I moved into a room with two fellas and didn’t know what was going on,” Edwards said. “But those two, they made sure I had everything I needed. They were always there for me.”

The longer he stayed at Exodus Homes, the more he looked for ways to start helping others, and inspiring others to find a better path.

“When I wake up in the morning, I don’t wake up for me. I wake up to be a servant of God,” Edwards said.

The 2021 GFH individual nominees included: Lynne Cline – Nominated by Hickory PORCH, Phil Echerd – Nominated by Safe Harbor, Jack Edwards – Nominated by Exodus Homes, Melanie Elrod – Nominated by Safe Harbor, Robert Fisher – Nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Carla Hafer – Nominated by The Corner Table, Gina Hefner – Nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Dawud Hughes – Nominated by V.O.I.C.E., Patricia Hurley – Nominated by Catawba Co. Senior Nutrition Services, Rita Johnson – Nominated by V.O.I.C.E., Ann Joslyn – Nominated by Patrick Beaver Learning Resource Center, Jacob Keller – Nominated by ECCCM, Anne Kennedy – Nominated by Greater Hickory CCM, Sally Lee – Nominated by Safe Harbor, Douglas “Eddie” Marlowe – Nominated by Centro Latino, Family Guidance Center, Hugh McCammon – Nominated by Children's Advocacy & Protection Center, Brooks Nichols – Nominated by ECCCM, Teresa Oakley – Nominated by Safe Harbor, Sheryl Smith – Nominated by Safe Harbor’s Resource Warehouse, Carolyn Speagle – Nominated by V.O.I.C.E.

Group GFH nominees included: Fostering Hope Catawba Valley – Nominated by DSS, Headquarters Car Show Committee – Nominated by Safe Harbor, Hickory Brown Penn Rec. Center – Nominated by Council on Adolescents, South Caldwell High Interact Club – Nominated by Safe Harbor, Twisted Covenant Motorcycle Club – Nominated by Children’s Advocacy & Protection Center.

Youth GFH nominees included: Ella Cecil – Nominated by The Corner Table, Hayley Hartley – Nominated by Safe Harbor Resource Warehouse, Jackson Stewart – Nominated by YMCA, Hickory Soup Kitchen, Foothills Gymnastics.

The Catawba County Volunteer Center annually submits nominations for the NC Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service from the GFH list of nominees

The 2021 NC Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service recipients from Catawba County included: Anna Grace Patel, Beth Bechtold, Danielle Cannon, Frances Hilton, Mike Johnson, Hemen Joshi, Jacob Keller, Brad McNeely and Kathy Ridenhour.

WHKY Radio Host Hal Row volunteered his services again to read the list of nominees and to announce the winners, while CCUW Board President Amy Guyer (RHF/Century Furniture Vice President, HR & Benefits) opened the event thanking all the nominees for their hard work.

Thank you again to all our Catawba County volunteers.

To learn more about local volunteer services call the Catawba County United Way at 828-327-6851 or visit ccunitedway.com.

More Photos at THIS LINK.