04/28/06 — County luncheon honors more than 135 volunteers

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County luncheon honors more than 135 volunteers

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on April 28, 2006 1:52 PM

With brightly colored flowers of all sizes hanging on the walls and on tables and butterflies and miniature hot air balloons suspended from the ceiling, the atmosphere was a festive one as Wayne County celebrated its volunteers Thursday at an awards luncheon.

Held at O'Berry Center and sponsored by Volunteer Wayne/RSVP, the theme was "Inspire By Example."

Ethel Mae Baldwin

News-Argus/Becky Barclay

Ethel Mae Baldwin received a President's Volunteer Service Award for giving almost 4,000 hours of service to Wayne County over the past few years.

More than 135 volunteers from the county and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base received 2005 Presidential Awards. The award included a president's volunteer service award pin, a personalized certificate of achievement, a note of congratulations from President Bush and a letter from the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation.

Ethel Mae Baldwin, 78, was honored for having given more than 4,000 volunteer hours recently. Emily Peacock was honored for being a volunteer for almost 40 years.

Receiving volunteer coordinator awards during the luncheon were Brownie Doss, WAGES Nutrition Program for the Elderly, and Donna Archer, Wayne Memorial Hospital.

Volunteer Wayne/RSVP director Barbara Stiles said the President's Volunteer Service Award program recognizes individuals, families and groups that have achieved a certain standard of excellence.

"Recognizing and honoring volunteers sets a standard for service to others," she said. "It encourages sustained commitment to civic participation and inspires others to make volunteering a central part of their lives."

Evelyn Jefferson, president, and Priscilla Ford, vice president of the Volunteer Wayne/RSVP advisory council, presented a gigantic check to city and county officials for $799,659, which represented the dollar amount that volunteers gave here last year at a rate of $18.04 an hour. She said that equates to about 44,327 hours.

The speaker for the awards luncheon was Will Lindsay, executive director of the commission on volunteerism and community service for the office of Gov. Michael Easley.

He read a National Volunteer Week proclamation stating that 64 percent of North Carolina adults volunteer.

Lindsay said "maybe some of you started volunteering because someone put you on the spot and asked for help and you couldn't say no, but that's not why you continue to volunteer. You continue to volunteer because you see that the service you are doing is making a difference."

He said that volunteer time is not free because volunteers could be spending it somewhere else.

"The service you do is appreciated and valued," Lindsay said. "Sometimes it's something we take for granted. Thank you for your time and talents that you share with others."

Mayor Al King praised the volunteers saying that at the first Volunteer Wayne/RSVP awards ceremony he attended four years ago, he was "blown away" by the number of people who volunteer here and the effort that goes into volunteering.

"Each year my appreciation of you grows and it won't stop," he said. "Funds are harder and harder to come by and if not for volunteers, a lot of people would have to do without and their quality of life would suffer.

"I am acutely aware of the value and services rendered by volunteers. Take joy and comfort in knowing that what you do is absolutely invaluable."

Wayne County Commissioner Atlas Price read a National Volunteer Week proclamation and praised the volunteers who mean so much to the county.

Concluding the awards luncheon, Mrs. Stiles asked if anyone knew why most people don't volunteer? "No one asked them," she said. "You make a difference. You lead by example."