New River Valley Leading Lights recognized 11 distinguished recipients at their 2019 annual awards event recently. Sixty unduplicated nominations were received for all categories, and all 60 volunteers were honored.
The three awards categories are community (seven awards), high school (two awards) and college (two awards). In the community category, there is an award reserved for a volunteer in each county/city of the New River Valley (Floyd County, Giles County, Pulaski County, Radford City) and two in Montgomery County (due to population size), plus one across the whole NRV to recognize Lifetime Volunteer Achievement.
Nominees must be current residents of the New River Valley, or if being nominated for a student category award they must be currently enrolled in a school or college in the NRV. Award winners in each category are selected on the following criteria:
- Strong community involvement;
- Demonstrated lifestyle of dedicated, continuous, long-term involvement to the community;
- Proven leadership; and
- Creativity in initiating and implementing projects that lead to a better quality of life.
Leading Lights from 2019 were engaged in diverse volunteer activities across the New River Valley. Collectively they spent thousands of hours over their lifetimes volunteering with clothing banks, rescue and disaster relief teams, as youth mentors, managing holiday programs, overseeing weekend “food backpack” programs, helping at local food kitchens, serving with civic groups, community building and actually more than a hundred other noble local charitable activities and programs. Leading Lights is focused on the impact of a volunteer’s leadership and example to others.
This year’s recipients, by category, were:
- High School: Mackenzie Farmer from Pulaski County and Hannah Shuff from Giles County
- College: Clendal Brown of Giles County and Tanah Patel of Montgomery County
- Community: – Travis Cantrell, Floyd County; Rodney Freeman, Giles County; John Hess and Kelly McPherson, Montgomery County; Daniel Grubb, Pulaski County; Janiele Hamden, Radford City
The prestigious Lifetime Volunteer Achievement award went to Carol Smith of Pulaski County.
This was NRV Leading Lights’ 11th year of recognizing outstanding volunteers across the region. The organization was formed following the 2007 tragedy at Virginia Tech to recognize the volunteer spirit the victims universally shared, and the outpouring of volunteer effort that followed to assist the victims, their families, first responders and the community.