One, the Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards taught us the valuable lesson that good deeds have a lasting impact, and they can come from the hearts of any volunteer regardless of age, gender, cause or community.
And two, although most volunteers don’t get involved in an initiative for personal recognition, it’s OK to credit their involvement and to say “Thank you.”
The state Volunteer Stars Awards program, now in its fifth year, did what needs to be done more. At a recent festivity in the Franklin community, it honored volunteers from across the state. As we mentioned, two were locals.
One is Cameron Fisher, coordinator of communications and Internet ministries for the Church of God International Offices, who over the years has gone by multiple titles of affection that point to his deep convictions and unconditional love for Cleveland and Bradley County. Some, but not necessarily all, would include Mr. Chamber of Commerce, Mr. United Way, Mr. YMCA, Mr. Habitat for Humanity, Mr. Museum Center, Mr. Rotary, Mr. Cleveland Media Association and even Mr. National Day of Prayer.
Some just know him as Mr. Cleveland.
Each says a lot about the man. All suggest someone who is not just involved. This guy is connected at the hip.
But over the past decade, and especially the past few years, he has become the face, the voice, the eyes and the very image of the Cleveland/Bradley County Greenway. An avid runner who took up the interest for its obvious health benefits, Fisher has logged miles and miles and miles in locations across America and around the globe.
Fisher probably considers himself an average volunteer. Frankly, the only trait that is average about this man is his above-average vision. He doesn’t see the climb; he sees the view at the top. He doesn’t sweat the details; he details the strategy. He doesn’t delegate responsibility; he serves as worker bee within a delegation.
If it’s a task worth doing, Cameron Fisher is generally at the head of the pack trying to figure out how.
A true man of action, he is using years of experience as ally and he is allying with those who share a mindset aimed at community cause.
Bradley County’s second recipient of a Governor’s Volunteer Stars Award is one who is much younger, yet her impact on a community in need is no less powerful.
She is Lindsey Armstrong, a high school student and the 18-year-old founder of The Family Kitchen, a fledgling 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose inroads into finding ways to feed the hungry are paved in gold. Her work in helping the homeless isn’t her first foray into community service.
Following the horrific tornado outbreak of April 27, 2011, she was integral in helping neighbors whose lives were in turmoil. At such a young age, she also has served as advocate and fundraiser for the Invisible Children network; and, she has given more than 300 hours as a student intern with the Salvation Army-Cleveland Corps.
But most recently, in March 2013 she founded The Family Kitchen, a nonprofit which she now serves as executive director.
It began as a friendship with a homeless woman whose only meal came once a day Monday through Friday at a local soup kitchen. Lindsey wanted to help. So she went home and asked her mom to help her to make breakfast on Saturdays for those without food.
The project evolved into a registered nonprofit, and now The Family Kitchen provides breakfast to 80 hungry souls every Saturday and lunch to more than 150.
It’s not just about the food. It’s about the connection. Young Lindsey Armstrong has found a way to bring just a little bit of home to the homeless. She is instilling hope into the hearts of the hopeless. And she is lifting the spirits of those who have little reason to believe.
The work of Samaritans like Cameron Fisher and Lindsey Armstrong is not a feat of magic. Instead, it is an inner drive to make life a little better for those around them.
Some call it making a difference. Such is an apt description.
But it is more.
It is about building roads. It is about stirring the conscience. It is about warming the heart. It is about showing the way. It is about upholding humanity’s greatest standard, “... to serve as my brother’s keeper.”
It is not rocket science.
But its launch comes from deep within the heart.