2019 United Way and RSVP Volunteer of the Year Awards Announced

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Obadiah Smith 2019 United Way Volunteer of the Year

Pictured:  Nancy Vaughan (UWMC) and Obadiah Smith, Anderson Preparatory Academy

Read by Nancy Vaughan at the annual meeting:
This year’s volunteer of the year joined the board of United Way of Madison County in 2005 and stayed involved for the next 14 years, serving on vision councils, fundraising, and working on special projects related to disaster readiness and agency relations. Despite several work-related changes that would challenge anyone’s continued involvement, this volunteer’s passion for this community never waned. 

There are a few traits about this year’s honoree that I want to personally highlight: faith – it has been freely shared and for this person, it’s a verb; perseverance and humility – even when acknowledging tough times, there has always been focus on love for family and for all mankind. These actions have shown me an uncommon wisdom that underscores dedication to making this world a better place. 
When most people would become disgruntled, this person has shared gratitude for family & friends; when most people would expect reward, this person focuses on opportunities to serve and grow. When asked to help, this person has always said yes, even when I know it’s been a heavy lift. Knowing this person has made me a better person and I know the United Way staff feels the same.
This award is usually presented by the previous honoree. Because Angela Cassidy could be with us tonight, but she sent this comment: Our honoree exemplifies service before self to our Madison County community and to the world at large.  In Isaiah 6:8 God asks this question of Isaiah “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Isaiah answered, “Here am I. Send me!”  God asked the same question of tonight’s honoree and the answer was the same.   “Here am I. Send me!”  
In addition to the United Way, tonight’s honoree has volunteered for Head Start, Operation Love, Dove Harbor, Anderson/Madison County Sheriff’s Department Chaplaincy Program and Sherman Street Church of God.  He chaired the United Way campaigns of 2015 and 2016, was the recipient of the Distinguished Servant Leader Award for Outstanding Professional Achievement and Exemplary Role Model in 2008 from the Anderson Falls School of Business Alumni Chapter and was the recipient of the Governor’s Award for Achievement in Civic Leadership Military in 2015. 
And tonight, it is my great pleasure to add United Way 2019 Volunteer of the Year to that list of honors. 

Sandra Volk 2019 RSVP Volunteer of the Year

Pictured left to right:  Kim Rogers-Hatfield (UWMC), Sandra Volk, and Georgeann Whitworth (RSVP Director, UWMC)

Ready by Kim Rogers-Hatfield at the annual meeting:
RSVP, the 55 plus volunteer program, is federally funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service as a part of Senior Corps and locally sponsored by our United Way since 2010.  Just this week we were awarded the grant to continue as the sponsor for another 3 years.
Back in 2010, I joined the staff as the new director for the new RSVP program.  I sent out the volunteer applications and the first people to bring back their completed applications were Sandy and Don Volk.  That made them our number one and number two RSVP volunteers with Sandy, of course, requesting the number one spot.  On the application, she was asked, “What skills do you currently have and would like to use in your volunteer work?”  Her response – Fundraising, coordination of events and, in quotes, “talking on the phone”. Of course, Sandy’s history as a United Way volunteer goes back several years, serving on countless committees and as a board member.  She even received the United Way Volunteer of the Year award in 1990.  As an RSVP volunteer, her file is over an inch thick.
Fast forward to 2016, a partnership was formed with the Anderson Police Department to develop a “welfare check by phone” program for homebound seniors and disabled individuals.  A former program called Senior Link was redeveloped and renamed Are You OK. Loneliness is considered an epidemic, especially for our seniors here in Madison County.   Are You OK volunteers are matched according to shared interests and make a friendly call once a week to check on their assigned person and just “have a chat”.  So…who do you think we thought of first when recruiting for this program?  No one here tonight who knows Sandy is surprised that 1, we thought of her first, and 2, that she’s receiving an award tonight for “talking on the phone”.  For this, she is truly the champion.  The only person here surprised by this is Sandy since we didn’t tell her she was getting an award.  For close to two years, every week, Sandy calls her assigned person.   This woman says Sandy helps her feel connected to the community.  They’ve truly developed a friendship.  The supervisor from the police department wishes there were more Sandys in the world. Don't we all.