In celebration of National Volunteer Week, United Way of Central Carolinas is pleased to share that nine volunteers and one volunteer group from the Charlotte region have been named recipients of the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award. The award honors the spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to the community through volunteer service.
Presented annually by the N.C. Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, this year’s awards include two recipients of the Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service. This year, the honor recognizes the top 22 volunteers throughout North Carolina.
United Way of Central Carolinas, which coordinates nominations for the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award in Anson, Cabarrus, Iredell, Mecklenburg and Union counties, announced the following winners:
- McKenzie Scott Cox, Reading Opens All Doors – Medallion Winner (youth category)
- Roger Anderson, Mooresville Christian Mission (seniors category)
- Gabriela Pena, Joyful Sleepers
- Cris Areskog, Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Maia Campbell, Kidz That Care (youth category)
- Courtney Gaston, Big Brothers Big Sisters
- Lanny Horton, American Red Cross (seniors category)
- Rob Kelly, CharMeck Responds Coalition – Medallion Winner
- Adam Sparks, Cool Kids (youth category)
- Julia’s Café and Books, Habitat for Humanity of the Charlotte Region (group award)
“While the impact of the pandemic made volunteers and volunteering more vital than ever to help address our community’s needs, it also presented some unique challenges to traditional ways of volunteering,” said Bob Young, United Way’s director of community impact. “Still, the individuals and groups in our region who received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award each found creative ways to serve others.”
Governor’s Medallion Award Honorees
McKenzie Scott Cox, a junior at Pine Lake Preparatory School in Mooresville, founded the nonprofit organization ROAD (Reading Opens All Doors). In 2020, ROAD collected more than 3,500 books to distribute to elementary school students. During the pandemic, Cox used social media to recruit volunteers and worked with area schools as well as with Boys & Girls Club of the Piedmont to host and record virtual story times, which received close to 7,000 views.
Rob Kelly is the CEO of FORCLT, a network of hundreds of local churches. In March 2020, Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones and Deputy Emergency Management Director Robert Graham asked Kelly to help structure and manage the volunteer response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kelly created and led the CharMeck Responds Coalition, which mobilized over 220 organizations and contributed more than 16,000 hours of volunteer service in coordinating essential services such as childcare, food distribution and personal protective equipment donations. During a visit to assess Charlotte’s response to the pandemic in July 2020, representatives from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Agency agreed that CharMeck Responds has had one of the most organized, fully activated and engaged volunteer responses nationwide.