Normally this time of year, we would be planning to honor local volunteers – we call them Hands On Heroes – and HOTC supporters, in person, at Cheers For Volunteers presented by Ashley HomeStore, in partnership with the City of Thomasville and Everfan. Now in its 7th year, Cheers is a big celebration gathering hundreds of community members to enjoy free food and beverages, entertainment, and lots of fun and goodwill! Unfortunately, with large gatherings cancelled due to COVID-19, this year’s party was put on hold. However, our community spirit and appreciation of all the wonderful people who give back through volunteer service can never be denied.
Hands On Heroes is an annual program to recognize outstanding volunteer efforts in our community. More than 75 nominations were submitted by non-profit agencies and community leaders in student, individual, and group categories. Award Winners, as well as Honorable Mentions, were carefully considered and selected by a committee based, not just on the number of volunteer hours served, but also for their inspiration, commitment, impact, leadership, and passion.
All of our 2020 Hands On Heroes Winners have two things in common. They all have volunteered on HOTC event days, and they all have a focus around youth – elementary school kids just learning what it means to give back, a high school senior inspiring a legacy of learning and giving before he makes his way in the world, and an adult who takes what he learned as a kid to help create new future leaders. On behalf of our partners, HOTC is proud to recognize these very special volunteers who shine brightly in the eyes of local non-profit agencies and community members as Hands On Heroes.
2020 Hands On Heroes Award Winners
INDIVIDUAL CATEGORY – volunteers 18+ who serve independently in Thomas County
Hands On Heroes Award Winner – Mr. Christopher Henderson
Our hope is that the positive actions and traits we learn in our youth, we carry forward into our adult lives. Chris grew up with the positive ideals he learned as a long-time member of the Marguerite Neel Williams Boys & Girls Club which works to build self-esteem, values, and skills in youth – our future leaders. Chris now leads by example, lending his time as a club greeter, tutor, basketball coach, desk clerk – basically, wherever there is a need at the Club, Chris is willing to fill the spot. He also volunteers every Saturday mentoring young men for Omega Psi Phi fraternity, coaching at the YMCA, assisting at Thomasville Community Resource Center, and The Talent Hunt which supports youth in the arts. Chris Henderson is the embodiment of paying-it-forward: Taking what he learned in his youth to motivate and inspire the next generations of hands on heroes. As our 2020 Award Winner, Chris received an award, superhero cape, and 4 Disney Park Hopper Passes.
Individual Category Honorable Mention – Lindsey Leverette, Viola Bean
Congratulations also to these Individual Nominees: Ann Larson, Jessica Rivera, Tracy Zolt, Todd Bennett, Rebecca Ramsey, Emily Eckels, Jackie Spadoni, Larry Plank, Mary Beth Donalson, Jay Flowers, Mark Harmon, Jodi Merritt, Allen Thornhill, Kay Davis, Liz Williams, Patricia Kinnee, Shelba Sellers, Ashley Henderson, Jacqueline Lamons, Cynthia Anderson, Janice Hill, Verna Rauls, Julie Nixon-Berry, Akoshua Williams, Orangie James-McCraw, Sue Davis, Telvis Crimley, Sandra Crimley-Bell, Andrew Wells, Helen Cody, Cheryl Walters, Vivian Washington, Valerie West, Jandell Griffin, Laverne Bell, Pamela Jenkins, Emma Holton, Constance James, Teresa James, Keyla Sigala, Jefferey Sigala, Sarah Glass, Janice Rauls
STUDENT CATEGORY – youth in grades 6-12 in Thomas County
Hands On Heroes Student Award Winner – Mr. Winston Cornish
Sometimes a volunteer makes the biggest impact, not through the number of hours or years served, but through their passion and inspiration to others. Winston, a senior at Scholars Academy, is a talented artist who has volunteered throughout high school for the Thomasville Center for the Arts, Thom Magazine, and the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival, and a junior entomologist. Yes, he studies bugs. He has combined these passions to create exquisite art and envied insect collections that were recently showcased in the Thomasville Center for the Arts public art event – Bug Out. Then for 9 months, through coLab – a collaborative learning experience with sixty 3rd graders from Brookwood and Harper Elementary School – he shared his passion and artistic skills to educate kids about insects, their essential role in our ecosystem, and their often underappreciated beauty. Through his big love for little creatures, Winston may have inspired a future biologist or researcher. As the Dalai Lama said, if you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. As our 2020 Award Winner, Winston received an award, 6-month YMCA membership, and a $500 Bobbie Flowers Quiet Leader Scholarship.
Student Category Honorable Mention – Edjenee Corbin, Camryn Williams, Peyton Owens, Maylon Cochran, Tahj Brown, Mauri Leroux, Maston Whigham, Hayden Johnson, Joseph Kimler, Melia Saunders, Kate Griffith
GROUP CATEGORY – businesses, organizations and civic clubs in Thomas County
Hands On Heroes Group Award Winner – Cross Creek Elementary K-Kids led by Ms. Leslie Aracri & Ms. Lanie West
Kiwanis K-Kids clubs teaches leadership through volunteer activities within the school and community, and creates a heart for service that will grow with them into their adult lives. Throughout the year, K-Kids learn how to give back through hands-on service – such as making cards for soldiers, serving at the annual pancake supper, and heading recycling efforts within their school; through philanthropy – they collected $1000 for the Humane Society, and enough in donations to provide tetanus shots to 232 expectant mothers; and through awareness-building – encouraging their peers to sign the Youth Environmental Stewardship Pledge and get involved in school and community matters. We look forward to seeing what these kids do as they take these seeds planted now and grow. As a 2020 Winner, K-Kids received an award and superhero cape.
Group Category Honorable Mention – Dodge Boyz 229, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated Theta Chi Zeta Chapter
Congratulations to these Group Nominees: ServPro of Thomas Colquitt & Grady Counties, Thomasville High School Football, Thomasville High School JROTC, Thomasville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., TJ Maxx, St. Luke CME Missionary & Youth Ministries, Retired Nurses & Teachers of Thomas County
BIG CHEERS to everyone who volunteers tirelessly and selflessly every day!
Special thank you to all of our sponsors and grantors who make free, community-minded events like these possible, especially Diamond Level and above sponsors Ashley Homestore, Hurst Boiler, and Ms. Diane W. Parker; as well as the Thomasville Antiques Show Foundation for making volunteer programs like these possible. We look forward to being able to celebrate with all of you in person soon!