Every year, Hanover County recognizes a number of its most outstanding volunteers at its “Spirit of Volunteerism” celebration. The 2017 celebration was held on May 16 at Hanover High School.
Judges selected the following volunteers for a 2017 “Spirit of Volunteerism” award:
· Andrew Cunningham and Addison Raso won the “Spirit of Youth” award. Andrew Cunningham could hardly wait until he turned 14 to become a Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Explorer and volunteer. He has contributed over 400 volunteer hours to the Sheriff’s Office and hundreds of hours to Hanover’s fire department. He also helped raise money for the Lee-Davis High School Band. Addison is 16 and has been volunteering since she was nine. Addison volunteers, year after year, for multiple organizations in Hanover and the surrounding area, including Girl Scouts, Camp Hope Richmond, Miracles in Motion, Cool Spring Challenger Sports, Night to Shine Prom and Miss Hanover Abilities Pageant. She advocated for her church to establish the God Inspires Friendships Together (GIFT) ministry, which is designed for church members with special needs. The category’s sponsor, Virginia Credit Union represented by Glen Birch, made contributions to charities designated by Andrew and Addison.
· Alan Fearnow received the “Spirit of Dedication” award. He spearheads the Backpack Kids Program, which provides breakfast, lunch and dinner for low-income children every weekend. The program he began has grown from two schools and 20 children to 16 schools and 165 children. Now housed at New Song Church, the program engages 16 other local churches. The category’s sponsor, Covenant Woods represented by Elizabeth Pace, made a contribution to the Backpack Kids Program.
· Tommy and Jimmy Davis received the “Spirit of Family” award. The two brothers have devoted themselves to helping the people of Hanover and beyond by providing free and substantial home repair. They have worked almost daily to ensure that homes are safe and accessible for seniors, families and those with disabilities. Innumerable people have been impacted by both brothers. Sadly, Jimmy Davis passed away in February during this year’s “Spirit of Volunteerism” nomination process. Tommy continues to honor Jimmy’s big heart, strong faith and willing hands in service to others. The category’s sponsor, Ashland Wal-Mart, made a contribution to Resurrection Disaster Relief.
· The “Spirit of Team” award was shared by the Hanover Sheriff’s Office Motorist’s Assistance Team and the Regional Hospital Accompaniment Response Team (R-HART). Since 2010, the Motorist’s Assistance Team volunteers have patrolled the county keeping an eye out for motorists in distress, conducting traffic, assisting with special events or helping patrol officers in other ways. This team has logged over 15,000 hours through December 2016. R-HART volunteers provide 24/7 support and a wide variety of services to survivors of sexual violence, including emotional support, education about the dynamics of violence and local resources, information about protective orders, referrals for follow up services like counseling, and trauma informed advocacy. They respond to calls from six hospitals, including Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center. Amy Hilliard of Battlefield Press, the award’s sponsor, made a donation to Hanover Safe Place.
· There were two “Spirit of One” winners, Karen Altman and Susan Shearouse. Karen serves on the John Gandy Elementary School PTA Board while also volunteering her time almost daily to other facets of the school, doing a variety of tasks. She works in the library, in her children’s classrooms, served as PTA Treasurer and helps with music education just to name a few. This year’s music program was inspired by the book On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman. Karen composed an original song for the program based on the text of the book. Karen also designed and constructed the backdrop that was used by both the 4th and 3rd grade musicals this year. Susan Shearouse is the Board Chair and group coach for “Leaders” in the Circles Ashland organization. Circles is a partnership between community volunteers and individuals or families living in poverty or “Leaders” that reside in Hanover County. She dedicates 15 hours weekly to organizing and managing individuals and volunteers to work together through meaningful relationships that help end the cycle of poverty. She has helped to increase the awareness of her community on the issues of poverty, working hard to provide the necessary resources so that the families and communities will thrive and begin to resolve the issue. Larry Schools of the category’s sponsor, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, made donations to John Gandy Elementary School and Circles Ashland.
· Sgt. James C. Miles Jr. of the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy program, received the “Spirit of Inspiration” award. James has served in the program since 1989, dedicating hundreds of hours yearly in service of our community. As a volunteer law enforcement officer, he patrols the county, responds to natural disasters, helps with community events and participates in the Project Lifesaver Program. James is a veteran of the U.S. Army and has received over 50 commendations for displaying outstanding character and dedication to the community. Award sponsor Grace Community Presbyterian Church, represented by Pastor Clint Dowda, made a contribution to the Project Lifesavers Program.
· Chick-fil-A Mechanicsville received the “Commitment to Community” Award, which honors a Hanover business that exemplifies strong community values and a sustained commitment to supporting the community. The Baldwin Family and their Chick-fil-A franchise in Mechanicsville are regular and generous contributors to Hanover’s public schools, often donating food for school events and offering gift cards monthly to athletes who excel in terms of work ethic and attitude. This year, they donated $4,000 to Lee-Davis High School to send 30 students to the nation-wide Chick-fil-A Academy, which provides leadership training and service opportunities for students. Melissa Miller, representing the Hanover Chamber of Commerce, made a contribution to Lee-Davis High School, with the funds to be used to support service projects conducted by students of the Chick-fil-A Leader Academy.
Last year, volunteers in Hanover collectively contributed over 468,000 hours of service. That total reflects the reported work of over 25,000 volunteers. These hours of service are calculated to have had a value of over $12.2 million!
Board of Supervisors Chairman Angela Kelly-Wiecek welcomed attendees to the event and made opening remarks. Andrew Freiden, morning meteorologist and executive weather producer for WWBT-12, was the guest host for the event.
Mark Fero, a member of the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Chairman of the Virginia Service Foundation, delivered special remarks on behalf of the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Office of Volunteerism and Community Service. During the recent National Volunteer Week, Governor McAuliffe presented the 2017 Virginia Volunteerism and Community Service Award, in the Small Business Category, to Pepicelli’s Pizza of Ashland. Tom and Lisa Checkosky and Pepicelli’s Pizza won the 2016 “Commitment to Community” Award.
Attendees also were entertained by a special presentation made by the Hanover Youth Service Council and youth volunteers, the Hanover High School String Orchestra and the Hanover Concert Band.
In the program’s finale, Hanover Idols Alena Hicks, Sarah Hopkins, Raelyn McMillion, Audrey Kate Taylor, Patrick Warren and Kellie Watson performed “What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love.”