Local nonprofit organization The Caring Place honored its most dedicated volunteers during a special reception held recently. Corinne Freeman, interim executive director of The Caring Place, …
Local nonprofit organization The Caring Place honored its most dedicated volunteers during a special reception held recently.
Corinne Freeman, interim executive director of The Caring Place, said the organization's work providing food, clothing and other services to people in need would not be possible without volunteers.
"This annual event is a time for them to fellowship and be thanked for all they do," Freeman said. "We can never really thank them enough for all they do."
Arnold Cochran, who has been volunteering for more than 10 years, was the recipient of this year's top award, the Danny O'Neal Service Award.
Freeman said the award's namesake was known for "continually going above and beyond," filling needs without being asked. One example of this is when an unsightly plastic bag got caught in a tree, and O'Neal took it upon himself to find a ladder and get it down.
She said Cochran has likewise shown his willingness to help fulfill needs as he sees them. Every week, drives more than an hour to the organization's "primary source" of bread to help provide the food staple to hungry families. He also takes the time to inspect each package to make sure the bread is as fresh as possible.
"We are so thankful for your heart of service and your willingness to bless us with it," Freeman told him.
Cochran, who turns 87 Wednesday, said he started volunteering with The Caring Place and took it upon himself to begin delivering the bread for one simple reason — "because it's needed."
He added that this award was "completely unexpected." Because he has been "blessed" with good health, he said he plans to keep helping clients of the local organization for as long as he is able.
Four volunteers were also presented awards for their help in specific departments within The Caring Place.
Tammi Johnson, who volunteers with the organization three days a week, was the recipient of this year's Clothing Department Award.
"Tammi is the type of person who has taken the shoes off her feet when a client couldn't find shoes at The Caring Place, so they wouldn't have to walk out the door without," said Angela Quimby, clothing department manager.
Quimby added that this volunteer "goes the extra mile" by taking care not to rush the clients, instead praying with them, hugging them and otherwise "loving on them."
Wayne Record, who has been with the organization for "a good while," received this year's Food Department Award.
"This is a hard worker," said Sheila McElhaney, food warehouse manager. "This person comes in earlier than everyone else and works and keeps working and makes sure the job gets done.
David McElhaney, who volunteers two days a week, was honored with the Registration Department Award.
Nolette Rose, receptionist at The Caring Place, said dedicated registrars like McElhaney are very important because they are the first point of contact for clients. McElhaney "always takes the time to listen" and readily directs clients to those who can help with their specific needs.
Melissa Word, who has been volunteering for four years, was given the Madison Jackson Sac Pac Award. This departmental award is named after a local 11-year-old who, starting at age 6, took it upon herself to raise money to help her peers who might otherwise go hungry.
Freeman said Word has shown a great deal of dedication to the organization's mission to provide weekly bags of food to children who lack good access to food on weekends during the school year.
The organization also honored the volunteers who had reached the milestones of having volunteered for five or 10 years.
The volunteers honored for 10 years of service were Belinda Jump, Bill McConnell, Marilyn McConnell, Danny Poole and LeAnn Poole.
Volunteers honored for five years of service were Betty Baines, Joan Bryson, Sue Ledford, Fran Lemmon, Ann Pickard, Betsy Poole, Bryan Poole and Mary Jo White.
"There's nothing we can do to express the depth of gratitude we have," said Freeman.
The Caring Place is always in need of volunteers to help with its mission of "meeting needs with love" in Bradley County. For more information, visit www.thecaringplaceonline.org or call 423-472-4414.
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