12/11/05 — WAGES honors local volunteers

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WAGES honors local volunteers

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on December 11, 2005 2:02 AM

WAGES Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion program officials said thank you to nearly 200 volunteers for the contributions they made this year to Wayne County's seniors and children.

The annual Christmas recognition luncheon was held Thursday in the O'Berry Center gym.

County commissioner Atlas Price said the yearly event is one he tries not to miss.

"This is a very special occasion," he told the audience, paying particular attention to the vital role volunteers play in the community.

"You do this work without really feeling like you have the time, and you probably have a pain now and then and would rather not get up and go...You don't realize how much you save the county in time as well as dollars and cents."

Dr. Frank Farrell, O'Berry director, echoed the sentiment.

"It's a wonderful service," he said. "I have seen the smiles on individuals' faces. I know from personal experience that you do make a difference."

Volunteerism is a priceless commodity and reflects a person's character, said Shirley Smith, vice chair of the WAGES board. She said when she looked at the number of volunteers and multiplied it by the number of people whose lives they touched, it was an opportunity to "look at goodness."

June Monk, administrator of the two WAGES programs, said there are presently 113 Foster Grandparents serving as mentors and tutors to special needs children and their families, and 78 Senior Companions working as caregivers to frail older adults and their families. The volunteers are assigned to 21 stations throughout Wayne County.

This year, 63 volunteers - 49 Foster Grandparents and 14 Senior Companions - were honored with the President's Call to Order Service Award.

"This award honors individuals who answer President Bush's call for every American to complete 4,000 or more hours of service over the course of a lifetime," Mrs. Monk said, noting that the 63 recipients have provided a combined total of 570,750 hours of service to citizens in Wayne County.

"For the past two years, 77 of our 191 volunteers have provided 807,738 hours of service," she said. "Using the minimum wages figure of $5.15 per hour, these volunteers alone have saved the taxpayers in the City of Goldsboro and Wayne County a total of $4,159,850."

She also saluted three volunteers who are at least 90 years old - Willie King, 91, Hezzie Mitchell, 90, and Thelma Heckstall, 90.

Entertainment at the luncheon was provided by Carver Heights Elementary School chorus, under the direction of Kevin Alston and Jimmy Aycock.