On Tuesday, March 3rd, Volunteers of America honored special volunteers in North Louisiana for their service during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon this week. 214 people gathered for the celebration at East Ridge Country Club.
“Whether you are collecting donations to fulfill a program’s wish list, painting a fence at one of our properties, serving on our Board of Directors or tutoring a young child, each person in this room has used their talents and treasures to enrich the lives of others,” said President and CEO, Chuck Meehan. “We could not do this work without each of you.”
Last year alone, 1,064 volunteers in our community gave almost 4,000 hours to the people we serve. That equals a monetary gift of nearly $94,000!
Ellen Brown Spirit of Volunteerism Award: First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport
This award honors the first director of the Highland Center, and continues to honor those who invest in the Highland Community. Located in the heart of the Highland neighborhood, First Presbyterian Church of Shreveport approached our organization to expand our Communities In Schools (CIS) program to Creswell Elementary. Many members of the church volunteer in some capacity or another. Some have generously donated an entire library They help ensure our clothing closet stays stocked, assist with a weekly food backpack program, support the school faculty, provide meal boxes during school breaks and, 13 church members tutor CIS students one-on-one each week. We could not serve children and families at Creswell Elementary without this wonderful partnership and blessing.
Champion of Dignity Award: Angie McCain
Our national motto is “Helping America’s Most Vulnerable.” 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. Angie McCain first began volunteering at South Pointe Place, our apartment complex for very low-income individuals, in 2015 through a partnership with her employer BancorpSouth. Today, she now teaches a computer class and regularly leads art and crafts for our seniors in her own free time. In addition, she also serves as an advisor for the South Pointe Place Resident’s Association.
Rachel Sparks Memorial Award: Mary’s Workers, St. Joseph Catholic Church
Named for Volunteers of America’s longtime executive director, this award honors those who continue her legacy of leadership and excellence. Many of the families we serve struggle to have basic necessities, such as food, clothing, school supplies, etc., – that many of us take for granted. For four years, a group of 80 faithful parishioners from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, known as Mary’s Workers, have committed to helping us eliminate this burden for families and serve those in need – particularly children in poverty. Over the years, we estimate that Mary’s Workers have donated over 1,500 food bags to children and families we serve.
Beacon of Hope Award: Lesa McDonald
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. Lesa McDonald has been a part of our work at our Downtown LightHouse site for over four years. She is always willing to dive in and help whether it is working one-on-one with a student, helping with group activities, or whatever needs to be done. Our LightHouse Coordinator, Tammeshia Bolden, says this about our her, “I think she has a genuine concern and passion for each LightHouse student she interacts with…she is truly an asset.”
Altrusa Award: Visionaries
The Altrusa award recognizes an individual or group that has given of themselves to bring life to the community while seeking nothing in return. In 2016, our organization launched a new initiative, Visionaries, to engage young adults into our ministry of service. Visionaries focuses on encouraging philanthropic work in the community through meaningful service projects – LightHouse Reading Buddies and career fairs known as Vocations with Visionaries – as well as host quarterly happy hours with a purpose, known as Sip ‘n Serves. In 2019 alone, 150 people through the work of Visionaries gave back to their community in some way and over 700 items were given to those in need through their efforts.
Humanitarian Award: Harry Avant
Philanthropy is too often oversimplified as just making donations 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. In 2012, Harry Avant was the first individual to pledge an inspirational match gift at our annual Cherish the Children of God breakfast. The power of his generosity was not only felt that year as he inspired numerous people to invest in our work, but it is still felt today. He inspired many, many others to invest in our special work helping us continue on the journey to sustainable funding.