On Tuesday, February 22nd, Volunteers of America North Louisiana honored special volunteers for their service during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Lunch. One hundred and sixteen people gathered for the celebration at East Ridge Country Club.
“On behalf of Volunteers of America, thank you,” Carolyn Hammond, president and CEO, shared. “Each day, you bring your passion and love to our mission, and it changes lives in our community.”
Last year, over 600 volunteers gave almost 3,300 hours to the people we serve. That equals a monetary gift of nearly $79,000! This year, six individuals and groups were given special recognition.
Ellen Brown Spirit of Volunteerism Award: Noel United Methodist Church
For nearly a decade, Ellen Brown was the face of the ministry of service in the Highland community. She has been a loyal and trusted volunteer and advisor. This award remembers her commitment to those we serve. This year’s recipients truly honored Ellen’s dedication to the Highland community, specifically to students at Creswell Elementary. Noel United Methodist Church volunteers are a part of the Communities In Schoools (CIS) tutoring program, assist in a weekend food backpack program when able, and are a part of our Geaux-To-Crew, a special team of volunteers who meet urgent needs in our children and family programs, and most impressively, members organize their own efforts to support the students.
Beacon of Hope Award: Bossier Library Workers
For over 30 years, the LightHouse afterschool program has been a part of Volunteers of America serving as a beacon of hope to children and communities in desperate need of more light. This award honors outstanding LightHouse volunteers. These volunteers are incredibly invested in our students and their futures. Bossier Library Workers, Annie Gilmer and Kristin Kennedy, visit the Bossier City LightHouse three times a month providing a fun environment and opportunities for students to participate in reading and STEM activities. The students look forward to their visits and are always excited to discover what special projects they will do each day.
Altrusa Award: Shop with a Doc Physicians and Friends
The Altrusa award recognizes an individual or group that has given of themselves to bring life to the community while seeking nothing in return. This year’s honorees are investors, supporters, and extremely nice givers. For 11 years, Specialists Hospital Physicians and Friends have hosted Shop with a Doc that is a once in a lifetime shopping experience for 50 LightHouse students. Led by Danelle Ware, it is truly a special day for everyone thanks to their hard work, planning, and immense generosity.
Champion of Dignity Award: Melanie Skrivanos
We are proud in the many ways we support the most vulnerable in our community. The Champion for Dignity award recognizes those volunteers who work with some of our neediest populations – those who believe in them and celebrate small wins along the way. Melanie Skrivanos made it her mission to champion our seniors through these difficult years during the pandemic. She arranged for residents to have a phone-friend, organizes a monthly treat for residents through partnering with local businesses, and prior to COVID, she gathered her friends to host bowling and fun at South Pointe Place apartments. She treats senior residents with dignity, respect, and has enriched their lives.
Rachel Sparks Memorial Award: Beverly Wallace
From 1968 to 1983, Volunteers of America North Louisiana was led by Lt. Col. Rachel Sparks. Named in her honor, this award honors those who continue her legacy of leadership and excellence. This year’s honoree, like Col. Sparks, is a dedicated advocate for the children we serve at Oak Park Elementary. Beverly Wallace was one of our first volunteers when we began Communities In Schools services there over 4 years ago. Since then, she has remained unwavering in her commitment to the students. She faithfully volunteers her time as a tutor and a member of our Geaux-To-Crew.
Humanitarian Award: Witt and Nonie Caruthers
Philanthropy is too often oversimplified as just donating to charity. In reality, it is about making an investment in the community that will result in long-term change. The Humanitarian award recognizes the best examples of philanthropic service. Witt and Nonie Caruthers have been long-time supporters, investors of time, talent, and resources, as well as friends of Volunteers of America. Years ago, they began to volunteer as a family at our Greenwood Lodge apartments as part of the group that began over 20 years ago hosting an annual holiday party for the residents. 10 years ago, the Caruthers, along with other close friends, laid the groundwork to establish the Jay Fund, a separate fund within our endowment recognizing the special work of their dear friend, Jay Greenleaf, who was on the Volunteers of America board when he suddenly passed away. Additionally, the couple has volunteered their time as volunteers and advisors. Witt served as a Board member from 2007-2014, and even more outstanding as our Board Chair in his final two years of service. We are forever grateful to Witt and Nonie for their service.