KENANSVILLE – On June 8, Duplin County Seniors’ Services hosted a reception to honor the dedication of community volunteers and presented them with the Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service.
âVolunteers are special people who give of their time and talent to help others. Every day in Duplin County, some volunteer service is provided in our community, âsaid Brown. “They have only one goal in mind, to share compassion and concern for others without asking for anything in return.”
The Volunteer Service Award honors individuals who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by making a meaningful contribution to their community through their volunteer service.
According to Melisa Brown, Director of Seniors Services, the awards program was created by the Governor’s Office in 1979 to recognize North Carolina’s most dedicated volunteers and each county can nominate up to 10 volunteers.
Last year, due to restrictions related to the pandemic, it was not possible to properly recognize the 2020 recipients.
âAlthough these recipients have already received their certificate and pin for their volunteer service, we would like to officially congratulate the recipients. “
Brown asked each volunteer to come forward as she called out their names and shared their contributions.
This year’s Governor’s Volunteerism Award recipients are Darrell Grubbs and Marisol Garcia-Sandoval.
Grubbs has volunteered for 13 years, according to Brown, he started volunteering with Duplin’s Services for the Aged in 2008.
Grubbs’ philanthropic efforts were recognized in the health and social services category.
âInitially, he was a senior Medicare information advisor providing medical assistance and prescription drugs,â Brown said during the presentation.
Currently, Grubbs is a Regional Advisory Delegate on Aging and a member of the Senior Center Foundation Incorporated. He is also the Site Coordinator, District Coordinator, and Deputy State Coordinator for Southeast North Carolina. In addition, he volunteered with the AARP Tax-Aide program.
âGifted at math, Grubbs approaches all aspects of his life in a meaningful way,â said Brown. “He is very methodical and uses logic and reason to solve problems.”
According to Brown, in 2019-20, Grubbs volunteered 590 hours. âEven in the midst of the pandemic, Grubbs and his fellow Tax-Aide volunteers have successfully completed 207 tax returns,â said Brown.
Grubbs’ commitment to mentoring and equipping fellow volunteers to provide quality service in a safe environment makes him an asset to Duplin County. Grubbs was nominated for the Governor’s Volunteerism Award by Liz Batts, who is the Senior Coordinator of the Health Insurance Information Program at the Seniors Center.
Garcia-Sandoval has been recognized in the following categories: serving young people and the historically marginalized population. Through his philanthropic efforts, Garcia-Sandoval created the non-profit organization âHelping our Community – Albertsonâ.
According to Brown, after graduating from college, Garcia-Sandoval began raising funds for his community to provide Christmas presents to families in difficulty.
âHis leadership and caring motivation inspired other members of the community to continue his Christmas campaign, which brought much needed joy to families in need,â said Brown.
“Helping Our Community – Albertson” is a small organization, “Brown said. “It may not be as big or well known as the others, but for those who benefit from the organization, it is a huge blessing.”
The 2020 Governor’s Volunteerism Award recipients are Jeralene Merritt, Rudolph Becton, Brendan Micajah âCageâ Bullard, Hayes and Emily Ludlum, Joann Stroud and Richard Weeks.
Merritt was recognized for her exceptional volunteer service in the categories of Youth, Disaster, and Health and Social Services.
âMerritt has stood up for children who have been abused and neglected, helped families in crisis and continues to volunteer in his community,â said Brown. “She began her volunteer service with the Guardian ad Litem program in February 2006.”
According to Brown, in 2019, Merritt provided more than 1,200 volunteer hours in his community with the Guardian ad Litem program, Duplin County Disaster Recovery and Duplin County Outreach Ministries Crisis Center. In addition, Merritt is tutoring children at Rose Hill-Magnolia and Wallace elementary schools and collaborating with an initiative to support programs for inmates leaving prison.
Merritt received the 2020 Governor’s Medal Award for Volunteer Service.
âThis particular award is given to the top 20 volunteers in the state,â said Brown. “She was nominated by Lori McClain and Deniece Cole.”
Becton has been recognized for his volunteer service in the categories of Veterans and Military, Disaster, and Health and Social Services.
âBecton has a community spirit, a big heart and a helping hand for everyone,â said Brown. “His slogan ‘recycled and loving adult is exactly how he is known in the community.”
Becton’s volunteer service began almost three decades ago while serving with Magnolia EMS. In 2004, he represented Duplin County as the Senior Ambassador for the Neuse River Games promoting health and wellness.
You can find Becton mowing the grass at Sarah’s shelter, unloading disaster relief supplies at Cornerstone, or delivering meals to homes in the Warsaw community. He was appointed by Services for the Aged and Cornerstone.
Bullard was recognized for his volunteer service in his youth, in the following categories: Veteran and Military, and Disaster.
âBullard is an outstanding Eagle Scout of Faison Scout Troop 48 and has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to volunteer service within his community and state,â said Brown. “He is a talented musician who regularly shares his musical skills to honor others.”
He provided over 100 hours of volunteer service to help hurricane victims, working with the Calypso Multi-family Cancer fundraiser, the Ainsley’s Angels event and with the Abundant Food program. Bullard was nominated by Francisco Rivas-Diaz and Shelia Young.
Hayes and Emily Ludlum were recognized for their volunteer service in the following categories: disaster, health and social services.
“This family duo is what it is like to independently volunteer just (to help) others, without ever seeking recognition,” said Brown, as she explained that together the Ludlums have coordinated their efforts to mobilize aid for those most affected by hurricanes and floods. “They encourage others to participate in the effort and (inspire) the whole process.”
The Ludlums were nominated by Kevin Kiernan, Henry L. Stevens IV and Self Volunteers.
Stroud was recognized for her volunteer service in the following categories: veterans and military, youth service, cultural services, health and social services.
âShe serves her community and Duplin County in many ways, especially agriculture and education,â Brown said.
Stroud has served as Vice Chairman of the Duplin Vidant Hospital Foundation Board, Member of the Selective Services Committee, President of the Kenansville Chamber of Commerce, Trustee of James Sprunt Community College, and Chairman of the Duplin County Education Foundation. She is currently President of the Duplin County Historical Society, Secretary of the Duplin County Agribusiness Council and the Duplin County School’s Faith-Based Committee for Public Schools.
âShe is an amazing person who tirelessly gives of her time and energy while at the service of herself,â said Brown. Stroud was nominated by Brian M. Bullard and Elaine Mejia.
Weeks has been recognized for its volunteer service in the following categories: Faith, Adult and Individual, and Disaster. He received the âDirector of Volunteers Awardâ.
â(Weeks) volunteer as director of the Charity Rebuild Center,â said Brown. âHe oversaw the renovation of the old Charity Middle School, turning it into a charity reconstruction center from which volunteers are mobilized.
âIt’s no exaggeration to say he works 60 hours a week in his volunteer role, in fact to put it mildly,â Brown said, sharing that an average workday, seven days a week , includes more than 16 hours. .
Weeks was nominated by Paul Langston and Richard Brunson.