Press Release: 2019 Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Award Recipients Named

 

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — The 2019 Annual Forsyth Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards Breakfast was held April 17, 2019 where local volunteers were recognized for their commitment and service to the Winston Salem – Forsyth County community.

The Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards recognizes and honors volunteers who have made significant contributions to Forsyth County through volunteer service.  Created by the Office of the Governor in 1979 as a way to honor the true spirit of volunteerism, the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards are held annually in each of the State’s 100 counties.   Any person, group, or business from the public, non-profit or private sector serving Forsyth County may be nominated for the award.

This year’s recipients and their categories are:

Elite Canine’s Comfort Dogs- Animals

HanesBrands, Inc.- Corporate Business

Deanna Perez- Cultural

Robin Pardella- Director of Volunteers

Maya Agger- Disaster

Liz Price- Environment

Darlene Talbot- Faith-Based

The Shepherd’s Center Singers- Group/Team

Charles Poteat- Health and Human Services

Myrtie Davis- Lifetime Achievement

Moriah Gendy- National Service

The Legendary Labelers- Perseverance in Volunteerism

Joseph Turner- Senior

Dr. Richard Gray- Serving Youth

Camilla Washington- Veterans/Military Families

 

The People’s Choice Award, which is voted upon by members of the public through the Winston Salem Journal website, was awarded to Myrtie Davis.

The Forsyth County Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards are sponsored locally by HandsOn NWNC, United Way of Forsyth County, Salem College, and the Winston-Salem Journal on behalf of the NC Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the Office of Governor.

 

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

Happy National Volunteer Week

It’s National Volunteer Week, which is a good time to dispel some common misconceptions about volunteering. Here are a few:

It is tough to find time to volunteer. If you have a lunch hour, you have time to volunteer. Head to a nearby school to read with children, or tutor a struggling student in math. If that’s too time-consuming, just walk down the hall at work. Your local United Way can organize on-site volunteering to build kits – such as school supply backpacks, and hygiene or literacy kits – to distribute to elementary schools, shelters and families who may not have many books at home.

Volunteering will add stress to my life. Actually, working with or for others, staying active and expanding your worldview adds up to a healthier lifestyle. There is a significant correlation between volunteering and good health.

Volunteering is dirty work that no one else will do. Sure, sometimes people paint school walls and plant gardens, but they also help make critical decisions as board members or grant reviewers. Professionals, like engineers and scientists, can put their skills to use through programs like STEM in the Schoolyard, a fun and rewarding way to help close the STEM gap for students.

You have to be present to make a difference. Virtual volunteering – like online tutoring programs – connects people to organizations and their beneficiaries. Using our own online platform, United Way Worldwide has helped companies give their employees the ability to write a note of encouragement to students, veterans or other groups who need support.

Volunteering takes time away from family. When you bring the kids along to volunteer, you strengthen family bonds, instill empathy and create wonderful memories. This past fall at United Way of Buffalo & Erie County families came together to pack 40,000 nonperishable meals for people in need.

Problems are so big; I can’t make much of a difference. This week, United Way of Miami-Dade is offering a range of activities in which volunteers will see the differences they’ve made. Volunteers will create a lending library at an early childhood development center, engage adults with dementia in socialization and music activities, and build a sensory garden for people with disabilities.

Volunteering is thankless work. National Volunteer Week is our time to thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, brains and brawn to causes they care about in their community and around the world. THANK YOU for stepping up – in person, online, with coworkers and your family. Thank you for showing what it means to LIVE UNITED.

Press Release: John Whitaker Honored with Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society Award

WINSTON-SALEM, NC — April 5, 2019 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: John Whitaker, was bestowed with United Way of Forsyth County’s (UWFC) Tocqueville Society’s Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society Award, The Tocqueville Leadership Society’s highest honor, at a special recognition event April 4, 2019.

The Paul Fulton Tocqueville Leadership Society is presented annually to an outstanding Forsyth County volunteer who has demonstrated untiring commitment, visionary leadership, resourcefulness and creativity in meeting the needs of the community.

John Whitaker is a highly experienced entrepreneur from Winston-Salem, NC and holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina as well as his MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He served three years in the United States Navy as an officer in the Supply Corps. John’s career has involved start-up and development of new companies, primarily in service-related businesses. He was the founder of Inmar Enterprises, Inc., a company with over 4,000 employees which provides promotional management and return goods processing to over 1,000 customers which was later sold to a private equity group in 2007. John’s rich business background also includes real estate development and construction.

He is actively involved in several civic and business activities within the local community including Chief Executive Officer of INV located in Winton-Salem, NC. INV provides venture capital and management expertise to start-ups and early stage operations. John currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Winston-Salem Alliance – a strategic planning organization for Winston-Salem as well as the Board of Visitors, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Previous outside activities have also included serving on the Board of Directors of Wachovia Corporation; Board of Trustees of Wake Forest University; Board of Directors of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center; Board of Visitors of Babcock Graduate School of Management, Wake Forest University; and Board of Directors of Amos Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital (past president).

In addition to his support of the United Way of Forsyth County, John has donated time and energy to fund raising for various other organizations: Chairman of the $200 Million capital campaign for the Medical Center; the National Development Council, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the UNC Alumni Association; the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce; Division Chairman for the Heritage and Promise Campaign of Wake Forest University; Campaign Steering Committee of The Children’s Center for the Physically Handicapped.

Local Benefactor Paul Fulton was instrumental in establishing the UWFC’s Tocqueville Leadership Society in 1987.  The award was renamed in 1997 to recognize his extraordinary volunteerism.  Fulton is a former chief executive of Sara Lee and Bassett Furniture Industries Inc. and former Dean at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC-Chapel Hill.

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United Way of Forsyth County brings the community and its resources together to solve problems that no one organization can address alone.

 

When You Invest in Your Community, You Invest in Yourself

“Givers gain.”

That phrase was racing through my mind as I put on my “Live United” t-shirt, scanned the conference room and listened to the Rappahannock United Way staff explain the logistics of the sort-a-thon. I was surrounded by Fredericksburg, Virginia, residents, all of whom were eager to sort children’s books, divvy up school supplies and create “kits” to help kids prepare for the school year ahead.

Once a month, United Way Worldwide employees can spend a day volunteering. It’s an opportunity for us to extend our support beyond helping the network from afar—to join the “boots on the ground.” I chose to lace my boots and contribute to my local United Way’s school readiness efforts. Rappahannock United Way is doing great work in the education space. When I heard about their sort-a-thon, I decided to contribute. I expected to give my time, and what I got was far more valuable.

The conference room was a bibliophile’s dream. There must have been a hundred books on tabletops, with volunteers organizing each. Nick, a Marine from nearby Marine Corps Base Quantico, drove 30 minutes to participate, and he was enjoying every second of it.

“I heard about the event from a volunteer coordinator on base,” said Nick. “I’m big into reading, and I like to support anything that has to do with youth and literature.”

Once the books were sorted and labeled, they were handed over to a crew of kit creators. Bags were filled with miscellaneous school items—from markers to notebooks—and given one book each before being set aside. It was a well-oiled assembly line of goodwill. I manned the supplies line, doling out cardboard paper for future coloring. To my right, a woman was talking about inspiring her sons to volunteer. Another woman, Geetha, commented on early learning.

“The beginning part of a child’s education is the most important,” said Geetha, a former nutritionist for Head Start. “Each month they don’t get the right education, they’re set back two months.”

All in all, the sort-a-thon was a hit, with dozens of people coming together to create hundreds of kits and set underprivileged children up for success. Personally, I was given a valuable reminder: Anything is possible when you combine your heart with hard work. Volunteering doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be arduous, and you don’t need to be an expert. You just need to act.

One decision, one hour, one moment—you’ll get back tenfold what you give.

Turn Your Spring Cleaning into Community Impact

Spring is finally here, a time when flowers bloom, daylight lasts longer and the smell of freshly cut grass lingers in the air—unless you live in the northeast, where snow is blanketing the streets and smothering dreams of warmer days ahead. Whether you’re outdoors soaking in the sun, or inside staying warm, it’s time to start thinking about spring cleaning. This year, consider adding community impact to your list of things to do. Here are four ways you can give back through your spring-cleaning routine:

Change lives by cleaning out your closet: According to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development report, there are more than 500,000 homeless people in America. When it’s time to conduct your spring cleaning, peruse your wardrobe—or your child’s—and see if there’s anything that can be donated to your local thrift store. An old sweater or pair of shoes may not be useful to you, but it could mean the world to someone in need.

Put your elbow grease to greater use: Have a slew of chores you need to tackle? When you’ve finished fixing the stairs and spreading the mulch, flex your muscles for the greater good—call your local United Way and ask if there are any community-building projects in the area. Around this time of year, building homes and creating community gardens is common. By volunteering your time, you can help house a family or rebuild a low-income community in disrepair.

Be mindful of your water usage: When you’re watering your lawn or plants, it’s easy to get carried away or forget to turn off the faucet. Today, in celebration of World Water Day, do your part by saving water when you can. From checking your pipes, faucets and toilets for leaks, to turning off the bathroom faucet when you’re brushing your teeth, you can help tackle local water shortages and contribute to a water-saving culture. Every drop helps.

Rethink your spring break: Switch up your family vacation this spring. Instead of trekking to the beach, head over to a local food bank and lend a helping hand. Food banks are always looking for volunteers to help with packing meals, sorting non-perishables and providing nutritious meals to those individuals experiencing homelessness or hunger. Not only will you be helping others in their time of need, but you’ll be teaching your kids the importance of volunteerism.
Unexpected snowfall aside, spring is a perfect time for you to make a mark in your community. So, slap on those sneakers, roll up your sleeves and get going—a few hours of your time will make a lifetime of difference for your neighbors in need.

BY: NICK THOMAS

Are volunteers more likely to practice preventive healthcare, go on fewer doctor visits and spend fewer nights in the hospital?

Although numerous studies have shown that volunteering is linked with better mental health, physical health and health behaviors, new research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health went one step further and asked: are volunteers more likely to practice preventive healthcare, go on fewer doctor visits and spend fewer nights in the hospital?

The “Volunteering is prospectively associated with health care use among older adults report found that volunteers are more likely to engage in preventive health care than non-volunteers. For example, volunteers were 30% more likely to receive flu shots and 47% more likely to receive cholesterol tests. While volunteering was not associated with frequency of doctor visits, the research did find that volunteers spent 38% fewer nights in the hospital. With a U.S. population that is rapidly aging, these findings may open the door to new ways to advance preventive health care, lower health care costs and improve the health of older adults.

And why might volunteering and the use of preventive health care be linked? The answers are likely a mix of psychological, social, and physiological factors. Eric Kim, who led the study, suggests that volunteering “increases a sense of purpose in life, which has been seen to be a driving factor for a lot of positive health outcomes. Volunteering also increases social connections, which have been linked to better health for a wide range of reasons. For example, people can share and receive information about things like where to buy healthy foods at the best prices or remind one another of which health screenings to get. People can also provide and receive instrumental support, such as sharing resources like rides to medical appointments. Social networks also provide emotional and psychological support, and that leads to better health.”

The bottom line? Volunteering may be an ideal low-cost strategy to help improve health among older adults. Learn more about volunteering and health through these links:

 

Students, Set Your New Year’s Resolution Today

August may seem like an awkward time to post about New Year’s resolutions, but for millions of college students the start of the school year holds greater significance than the change in calendar year. A new school year means a new chapter and a fresh start. It’s a chance to purge bad habits and replace them with better ones.

Typical school year’s resolutions usually relate to improving academic performance: a pledge to study harder, finish assigned readings, attend class more… That sort of thing. Sometimes students set health-focused goals like eating healthier or vowing to use their free campus gym more (trust me, you will miss it when you graduate).

This year, in addition to your other school year’s resolutions, consider making a commitment to volunteer as a reader, tutor or mentor. Of course, just making a resolution is easy – staying committed is the tricky part.

Here’s a tip: sticking to a resolution is always easier when you do it with friends. Inviting your friends to get involved will increase your impact and make your volunteering experience more enjoyable. You may run into friends that are nervous about getting involved. If your friends are interested in joining the cause but are still apprehensive, it may help to know some of the most common excuses along with a few facts to rebut those claims:

  • “I’m taking a lot of credits this semester! I don’t have time to volunteer.” I understand where you’re coming from. After all, school comes first and you don’t want to jeopardize your success by putting too much on your plate. But let’s take a closer look for a moment. There are 168 hours in a week. Assuming you get eight hours of sleep per night, you’re still left with 112 hours to be productive. Subtract from that your average weekly workload of 15 hours of class time plus two hours of studying for every credit hour you’re taking (which is probably generous) and you still have 67 hours at your discretion. Considering the fact that a recent study found the average college student watches 10 hours of television per day, it’s hard to imagine you can’t find an hour per week to give back.
  • “I don’t know anything about kids, education or early literacy.” Who cares? Some of the simplest tasks, like reading a book to a preschooler or eating lunch with a sixth grader, can have a huge impact when you volunteer in a structured environment. The staff at your volunteer site will be able to help you if you have questions, and it’s unlikely they’ll put you in a situation you can’t handle. Come as you are!
  • “I don’t know where to go to get involved.” We’ve got you covered. United Way’s website provides a listing of volunteer opportunities in your area. You can reach out to your local United Way to see if anything else is available. You can also reach out to the Student United Way on your campus and if there isn’t one, you can start one!

Most of all, let your friends know that you, your community, and the children in need of readers, tutors and mentors need them to volunteer. It’s going to take all of us working together to meet our bold goals for the future, and the power of students to make a difference will have a huge role in our success.

So set your school year’s resolution now and recruit your fellow students to join the call to action. For someone out there, it could be the most important resolution you make.

 

Wendy Dixon-DuBois