Every year, Hanover County and the Board of Supervisors recognizes a number of outstanding volunteers at its “Spirit of Volunteerism” celebration. The 2018 celebration was held on May 15 at Hanover High School.
Judges selected the following volunteers for a 2018 “Spirit of Volunteerism” award:
Megan Blaum won the “Spirit of Youth” award. Megan has served many community organizations including Young Life Capernaum, Miracles in Motion, Bridgebuilders, Challenger Sports, and Miss Hanover Abilities. At just 17 years old, she has already selflessly dedicated herself to volunteerism for the past 6 years, serving 10-12 hours per week. The category’s sponsor, Virginia Credit Union represented by Robert Williams, made contributions to Hanover Community Support Services, the non-profit designated by Megan.
Linda Hultgren received the “Spirit of Dedication” award, given to a volunteer aged 60 or over. After retiring from teaching, Linda has volunteered for the past 4 years as a math tutor at the Georgetown School several times a week. The school is a specialized learning center serving students in grades 6-12 who need academic and/or behavioral enrichment in order to be successful in the school setting. She has helped over 45 students pass the GED and become independent, contributing members of the community. The category’s sponsor, Covenant Woods represented by Elizabeth Pace, made a contribution to the Georgetown School.
Lee and Neal Hanchey received the “Spirit of Family” award. This couple has worked for the last 5 years to build an amazing Community Garden at the Atlee House of All Souls Episcopal Church. The harvest supplies produce for food banks in the Mechanicsville area and beyond, feeding over 200 families monthly. February through November, the Hancheys and other volunteers spend countless hours planning, planting, plowing, weeding, harvesting, washing, packaging, and delivering produce, resulting in an overall donation of 9,255 pounds of food between 2012 and 2017. The category’s sponsor, Ashland Wal-Mart represented by Hunter Halverson, made a contribution to All Souls Community Garden at Alpha House.
The “Spirit of Team” award was shared by the Night to Shine Team and the Wings of Hope Ranch Volunteers.
The Night to Shine Team is led by Alex Brito, Darlene Blaum and Clint and Jen Dowda, who, four years ago, heard that the Tim Tebow Foundation was seeking church partners to host its inaugural event in cities around the country on the same night. The team instantly joined in. The event pairs individuals who have special needs (aged 15-78) with a volunteer Buddy. In February 2017, the Hanover Team raised over $40,000 to host 368 guests with special needs, 350 parents, and 600 volunteers at Altria Theater.
The Wings of Hope Ranch Volunteers provide a recreational therapeutic riding program for children ages 5 to 18 in foster care or living with intellectual disabilities. Over 100 volunteers currently support the program, contributing over 9,256 hours since launching their ministry in 2006. The eight horses in the program have been rescued, rehabilitated and trained to work with children of varying abilities, serving more than 6,066 hours over the past 10 years. Copy Cat, the award’s sponsor, made donations to the Tim Tebow Foundation and the Wings of Hope Ranch.
There were two “Spirit of One” winners, Bob DeLille and Lori Vest.
Bob started Ashland Open Door (AOD) in 2015 to assist local families living in motels and in need of permanent housing. Through AOD and Bob’s leadership, over 45 families in need have been able to receive short term financial assistance and access to a specialist who could help with long term housing and related needs.
Lori has served for 11 years as a passionate advocate and volunteer for school music programs within the Lee-Davis High School band program. She has taken on roles such as Chaperone, Scholarship Committee chair, pit crew member, and Band Boosters President to name just a few. In 2017 alone, she raised over $40,000 to go towards props, instruments, repairs, and needy student funds. The category’s sponsor, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, made donations to Ashland Open Door and the Lee-Davis Band Boosters.
Barry Bland received the “Spirit of Inspiration” award, which goes to an individual who has volunteered for 20 years or more within a specific organization. After retiring from 28 years of service in the Hanover Sheriff’s Office, Barry continues to serve his community today with the Hanover County Volunteer Rescue Squad, Fire/EMS, Ashcake Volunteer Rescue Squad and at the Sheriff’s Office where he started the Explorer Post program 25 years ago. This program mobilizes volunteers aged 14-20 to serve their community through crime prevention education, fingerprinting, event organizing, and more. Barry volunteers an average of over 100 hours with the Explorer Post alone and serves many additional hours in other positions throughout the community. Award sponsor Grace Community Presbyterian Church, represented by Dave Reppert, made a contribution to the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office to support the Explorers Post and the Adopt A Senior programs.
Last year, volunteers in Hanover collectively contributed over 382,000 hours of service. That total reflects the reported work of over 20,000 volunteers. These hours of service are calculated to have had a value of over $10.3 million!
Cheryl Miller, Anchor and Reporter for WTVR-6 and a member of the Virginia Communications Hall of Fame, was the guest host for the event.
Vanessa Diamond, Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Board on Service and Volunteerism, delivered special remarks on behalf of the Governor’s Office and the Virginia Office of Volunteerism and Community Service. During the recent National Volunteer Week, Governor Northam presented the 2018 Virginia Volunteerism and Community Service Awards to Tommy Davis and Addison Raso, who were 2017 Hanover County “Spirit of Volunteerism” award winners.