Two Bradley Countians on Monday received honors from the state for their willingness to spend their own time to help with worthwhile causes.
The Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards is an initiative from Volunteer Tennessee that seeks to recognize outstanding volunteers from each of the state’s 95 counties.
Currently in its fifth year, nominations are taken from the general public and local officials.
Awards are then given to one outstanding adult volunteer and one outstanding youth volunteer.
The two names are familiar to anyone who has been involved in organizations of caring and giving within the Cleveland and Bradley County community.
Those names are Lindsey Armstrong and Cameron Fisher.
The nomination for Armstrong, who is the 18-year-old founder of The Family Kitchen, reads as follows:
“Though still in high school, Lindsey Armstrong has already been highly involved in serving her community.
“Lindsey was an integral part of serving her neighbors in light of the natural disasters in 2011, has been an advocate and fundraiser for the Invisible Children organization, and she has served over 300 hours as a student intern with the Salvation Army of Cleveland.
“Above and beyond all of this, Lindsey is now the 18-year-old executive director of a newly established nonprofit called The Family Kitchen. The Family Kitchen was founded by Lindsey in March 2013 with the help of her family and friends.
“It was no coincidence that Lindsey's humble and compassionate heart would lead her to start an organization of generosity and love.
“Through choosing to engage in a relationship with a homeless woman, Lindsey soon learned that the woman was relying on the local soup kitchen for meals, but that they were only able to serve one meal per day Mondays through Fridays. Lindsey realized how much that one meal a day meant to those in need, but wanted to do more.
“Lindsey went home to ask her mom to help her make breakfast on Saturdays for those who were without food. The following Saturday, they made 48 muffins to give away and quickly learned that it was not enough.
“In the months to follow, what started as Lindsey sharing breakfast with a new friend soon became a cause that she deeply cared about.
“Now an official 501(c)(3), The Family Kitchen is serving breakfast to over 80 individuals and lunch to over 150 individuals every Saturday with hopes to continue expanding in their ability to provide healthy, delicious meals to those in need.
“In all of this, what makes Lindsay unique is the amazing way that she has connected with the homeless population of Bradley County. In all of her interactions and service, she communicates to those around her that they are valued, cared for, and have something beautiful to offer the world.
“Lindsey knows their names, their stories, and their struggles. People do not come to The Family Kitchen for merely a good meal; they come because they know that they will find love, acceptance, and meaningful relationships.
“Lindsey is a humble, passionate volunteer who challenges our community to better care for our neighbors on a daily basis and who has already deeply impacted those whom she serves.”
Fisher serves as coordinator of communications and Internet ministries at the Church of God International Offices.
His nomination reads as follows:
“Fisher's community service spans a variety of organizations.
“Fisher began serving on the board of directors for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce in 2002 and has continued in a variety of positions, including vice chairman of membership development, 2005-06; chairman-elect, 2007; chairman of the board, 2008; and vice chairman of public affairs, 2011-present. He also has spoken to the Youth Leadership on the qualities of a leader.
“He has devoted years of service to the United Way of Bradley County as well, serving several times as a campaign solicitor and division chairman. In 1999, he served as the overall campaign co-chair, raising 5.6 percent over the goal. He has served on United Way’s executive committee for many years and is currently chairman of the board.
“‘As United Way chairman, Cameron has been a loyal supporter, encourager and friend not just to me personally, but to this entire community,’ said Matt Ryerson, executive director.
“‘Cameron has displayed that rare, selfless quality of serving his community with no personal agenda. In fact, a spirit of service is a family tradition, and Cameron has inherited the best of those genes.’
“As chairman of the Greenway board, Fisher has been the prime mover behind the development of the Cleveland Greenway, an award-winning community project. His long-term commitment to this project has required hundreds of hours of meetings, coordination of activities and physical labor. He regularly contributes columns about the Greenway and its progress to the Cleveland Daily Banner.
“He took his passion for the Greenway a step further recently by helping Black Fox Elementary School, where his sister-in-law is principal, to develop its own ‘mini-greenway.’ Appropriately named the ‘Fox Trot,’ the new walkway is a wonderful addition for students, teachers and the Black Fox community.
“Fisher has been a Rotarian for more than 20 years, holding the offices of newsletter editor, treasurer, vice president, president-elect, president and board member. He actively participates in all Rotary Club service projects, pioneered an Interact Club at Cleveland Middle School, contributes generously in support of local and international projects, organized a ‘Council of Presidents’ involving past club leaders, and has served as a Rotary assistant district governor.
“Under his leadership, the Rotary Club financed a water project for an orphanage in the Philippines and another for an elementary school in Liberia. His peers have honored him as a Rotarian of the Year.
“Fisher is a member of the Cleveland Media Association and served as president of the organization in 2002. He received CMA's ‘Excellence in Communications’ Award in 2006.
“Other community service activities include serving on the YMCA and Habitat for Humanity board of directors. He also has served on committees for the Museum Center at Five Points and the National Day of Prayer local observance.
“An avid runner, Fisher has helped organize half-marathons and other local events to benefit the community.”