Congratulations 2023 Volunteer Heroes!
In 2023, not only are we celebrating 20 years of service, but it is also the 10th anniversary of our Hands On Heroes awards. What better way to celebrate than with BIG cheers and LOTS of volunteers at the 10th annual Cheers For Volunteers presented by 1915 South/Ashley! More than 400 people joined us on Tuesday, April 25 to honor 50+ volunteer heroes. Friends, family, and interested community members were treated to Diablo’s, Blue Bell Ice Cream, lemonade and popcorn compliments of Thomas County Schools, and entertainment by The Leftovers. In true volunteer spirit, attendees also brought donations for Birthday Boxes.
All nominees received a bag of goodies including a certificate, note of thanks, and their very own Hands On Hero cape compliments of Everfan! Selected winners also received a Hands On Heroes award and prizes, and the student winner received a $500 Bobbie Flowers Quiet Leader Scholarship. 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.
This year, as part of our 20th anniversary, HOTC became a certifying organization for The President’s Volunteer Service Award created by Executive Order in 2003, which is based solely on the age of the volunteer, and hours served and certified for the previous year. For the first time, we were proud to present this national accolade to eight local volunteers: Janice Anderson, Raylynn Fykes, Kimberly Homer, Campbell Smith, Kassie White, Brennan West, Wade Banks, and Judy’s Heroes.
2023 Hands On Heroes Award Winners
Individual Category – Volunteers 18+ who serve independently in Thomas County
Hands On Heroes Award Winner – Kimberly Homer
If you are friends with Kimberly personally or on social media, two things immediately stand out:
1) She is full of knowledge, daily using her time to share the history and feats of pioneers who forged the way for so many things we today take for granted, inspiring others to do the same.
2) She also has a bit of the pioneer spirit within her – She has yet to meet an event or need where she isn’t willing to lend a hand. traveling throughout Georgia and Florida to volunteer with HOTC, the Jack Hadley Museum, NAACP, with Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc, local School functions, hospitals, fundraising events and more. If there is a need…there is a Kimberly!
She has a heart for service – a piece of which she leaves – and frequently returns to – everywhere she goes. And we are thankful that the biggest part of her volunteer heart resides right here in our community. As our 2023 Winner, she received an award and a $500 gift card to Ashley Homestore.
Hands On Heroes Rising Star Award Winner – Jackie Spadoni
Jackie has served countless hours helping a variety of non-profits and causes in our community. From board service, to setting up events, and soliciting donations, Jackie is there every time and follows through with her commitments for HOTC, The Chamber, The Treehouse, Kiwanis, Downtown Boston, Lives Without Limits, OakFest and more. Jackie is always willing to lend a hand without complaint. She has been nominated as a Hands On Hero just about every year for the past 10 years, and we know her service and impact will shine on for decades to come. As our 2023 Winner, she received an award and a membership to the YMCA.
Hands On Heroes Living Legend Award Winner – Wade Banks
Wade is an avid FULL TIME volunteer and a blessing for Thomas County Schools, specifically at Hand in Hand and for the TCCHS Band program. He is the pinnacle of dedication to his passion – students and their success. For more than 12 years, he has been a full-time volunteer with more than 17,000 hours devoted to – reading to kids, helping keep students and school grounds safe and clean, attending events, and helping students in whatever way he can whether with a high five, a smile, or encouragement. His genuine love and enthusiasm for his volunteer work impacts everyone he meets – students, parents and teachers alike which was evident in the more than 60 nominations we received for him alone. For all that and more, We couldn’t think of a better role model for a Hands On Hero. As our 2023 Winner, he received an award and $100 Downtown Dollars.
Individual Category Honorable Mention – Janice Anderson, Bob Dyksterhouse
Congratulations also to these Individual Nominees: Jerrylene Brown, Glenda Butler, Dawn DeLeo, Matt Delarber, Robin DePaola, Charles Evans, CB “Scooter “Grubbs, Chandler Foy Hurst, Patrick Harrity, Gene McNease, Keith Raffield, Jessica Rivera, Olga Lami-Schmizzi, Drew Tuggle, Gavin Wilson, Randie Wortman
Student Category – Youth in grades 6-12 in Thomas County
Hands On Heroes Student Award Winner – Campbell Smith
Campbell is an A-student – valedictorian of his class no less. A student athlete – playing varsity football and soccer. Part of the Work Based Learning program where he worked at Rose City Pharmacy. He has successfully balanced school, work, practice, games – and still managed time to volunteer. He has accumulated more than 200 service hours in his high school career (over 100 in 2022) with HOTC, Backpack Buddies, The Treehouse, the Elections Office, veterans groups, school events, and tutoring fellow students. He was nominated not once, but four times – by a family member, a teacher, a coach, and a guidance counselor – all of whom called him “Freakin’ Awesome.” We always encourage our nominators to include stories from the heart because sometimes seemingly tiny details make the biggest impact. This past year, when a beloved local educator passed, Campbell took it upon himself to organize and tutor her students, as well as his own. It is that small detail, but huge initiative on his part that impacted so many around him and confirms he is a Hands On Hero. As our 2023 Winner, he received an award, and a $500 Bobbie Flowers Quiet Leader Scholarship.
Student Category Honorable Mention: Kolleen Barber, Brianni Brown, D’Kijah Brown, Brian Cauley, Holten Dennard, Anna Catherine Duplantis, Raylynn Fykes, Claire Garbett, Bishop Jackson, Caleb Kinneer, Cullen Marsh, Theoderick Martin, Payten Mustain, Ziara McCoy, Celia Perry, Javin Spencer, Journee Spencer, Heaven Thomas, Brennan West, Kayla Wade, Kyla Wade, Kassie White, Millie Wilson
Group Category – Businesses, Organizations, and Civic Clubs in Thomas County
Hands On Heroes Group Award Winner – Thomasville Street Church
Homelessness exists in our community and it is a topic that some are uncomfortable discussing, let alone addressing. What makes homelessness so daunting is that it has a face – men, women, children and families just like ours. People who find themselves living in cars, the street, or camped in the woods due to circumstances often beyond their control. And unfortunately, there are not enough resources in our area that can help everyone. Thomasville Street Church (now known as Thomasville Street Feed) is a grassroots effort of local volunteers who are not afraid to confront and help rectify with no judgement.
Since summer 2022, this group of volunteers has assisted the homeless and displaced individuals in our community, providing prayer, fellowship, food, clothing and even homes. Several times each week, volunteers make and serve food, provide necessities, and create friendships among all people despite their circumstances. It is a truly grassroots effort which has grown from a handful of people to a movement. In lieu of an award, $250 was donated to their efforts to help purchase food or other needed items.
Group Category Honorable Mention: Flowers Procurement Group, Judy’s Heroes
Congratulations also to these Group Nominees: Lambda Xi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, National Technical Honor Society at Southern Regional Technical College, Rotary Club—Scott Senior Center Volunteers, TCCHS HOSA Club, Thomasville/Thomas County Homeless Coalition Volunteers
BIG CHEERS to all those who volunteer tirelessly and selflessly every day. Super thanks to 1915 South/Ashley, Everfan, City of Thomasville, Thomas County Schools, Grassroots, Diablo’s, Blue Bell, Whitehurst Blackburn & Warren, Jennifer Rhodes Photography; as well as all of our sponsors and grantors who make free, community-minded events like these possible.
Take a look at the photos below. Click to enlarge. Special thanks to JRhodes Photography!