First Lady Crissy Haslam joined Miss Tennessee 2013, Shelby Thompson, to honor volunteers from 39 counties at the Sixth Annual Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards ceremony in Franklin on March 10, 2014. The awards celebrated the efforts of 71 volunteers statewide who strive to improve their communities through service.
“I am thrilled to recognize Tennesseans who give of their time and resources to improve the community,” Mrs. Haslam said. “Setting an example for service can be one of the very best ways to be a leader.”
One youth and one adult volunteer were selected from participating counties to receive this prestigious award. Nominees were judged based on the community’s need of the volunteer service performed, initiative taken to perform the service, creativity used to solve a community problem and impact of the volunteer service on the community. The individual awards were sponsored by Clayton Homes. The Community Anti-Drug Coalition of Rutherford County also sponsored the event.
We Care Cannon was recognized as the Cannon County Adult Honoree. We Care Cannon started in 2012 by a group of community minded citizens to provide Back-to-School needs for Pre K – 12th grade students in Cannon County. These individuals determined that, with a 54% poverty level in the county, local support was desirable. The annual community-wide event occurs the last Sunday in July and the only requirement is that the child be from the county. Through local professional volunteers, We Care Cannon has provided haircuts, physicals, dental exams and eye exams. Through primarily local donations, We Care Cannon has started each child’s school year with back- to-school items, toiletries, shoes and undergarments. Each year the program has provided these needs for about 20% of the county’s children which includes seven public county schools as well as home schooled students. We Care Cannon is a community wide event that not only has met the goal of making each child more prepared to attend school, but has also been community supported with over 100 individuals volunteering annually.
This year, the Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards included business and non-profit categories for the first time. One business and one non-profit were selected from each of Tennessee’s three Grand Regions for their outstanding community involvement and service. The business honorees included: Eastman Chemical Company, East Tennessee Business Honoree; Healthways, Middle Tennessee Business Honoree; and Memphis Light, Gas, and Water, West Tennessee Business Honoree. The business awards were sponsored by Advance Financial. The non-profit honorees included: Random Acts of Flowers, East Tennessee Non-Profit Honoree; Nashville CARES, Middle Tennessee Non-Profit Honoree; and Church Health Center, West Tennessee Non-Profit Honoree. The non-profit awards were sponsored by Friends of Volunteer Tennessee.
“Each year, 1.27 million Tennessee volunteers give more than 171 million hours of service, contributing the equivalent of $3.8 billion to Tennessee’s economy. They are the backbone of our great state, and by giving of their time and talents to fulfill needs that would otherwise go unmet, they truly embody the spirit of giving,” said Volunteer Tennessee Executive Director, Jim Snell.
Mrs. Haslam was the featured speaker for the Awards. Miss Tennessee 2013, Shelby Thompson, presented the awards, and NewsChannel5 weekend anchor, Jennifer Kraus, served as the emcee for the event.
Volunteer Tennessee coordinates the Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards at the state level. Volunteer Tennessee is the 25 member bipartisan citizen board appointed by the Governor to oversee AmeriCorps and service-learning programs and to advance volunteerism and citizen service to solve community problems in the Volunteer State.