Governor recognizes Gates County volunteers

Published 5:29 pm Tuesday, July 6, 2021

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GATESVILLE – Even the threat of COVID-19 failed to stop the volunteer efforts of Gates County citizens who continued to meet the needs of the local community.

Several of those volunteers were recognized at the June 16 meeting of the Gates County Board of Commissioners. There they were recognized as recipients of the Governor’s Volunteer Award.

Gates County Cooperative Extension Director Helen P. Eure joined with the board of commissioners in presenting the Governor’s Awards. Two of those awards were presented for 2020: Marva Bond and Ashby Dickerson.

Eure noted that Bond was a founding member of Studio 32 in Sunbury and helped build it into an all-volunteer arts education, gallery, and gift shop….helping many local artists to fulfill their dreams.

Bond has served as the Studio 32 treasurer and bookkeeper for the past six years. She also serves on the Albemarle Regional Library Board and is a leader at St. John AME Zion Church where she is a Deaconess, the chair of the Steward Board, church secretary and clerk, Christian Education Director, and a member of the Voices of Praise and the Praise Team Choir.

Dickerson, a 2021 graduate of Gates County High School, volunteered for several years at Gates County Assisted Living where she entertained the residents by playing the guitar and ukulele as well as singing.

She also mentored younger students at Buckland Elementary School and served as a Girls on the Run coach last fall.

Open Wide Outreach Ministry was recognized as a Governor’s Award winner for 2021. Under the direction of Angie Parsain, the group has greatly impacted the lives of food insecure families in Gates County.

Now in its sixth year, Open Wide Outreach Ministry currently provides weekly bags of food to 96 elementary school-age children. During the pandemic, the organization worked with the school system to ensure that food continued to be delivered.

They also stock a food pantry at the high school where food insecure students have access.

In addition to Parsain, members of Open Wide Outreach Ministry recognized were Debbie Williams, Sallie Ryan, Cindy Buck, Jackie Bundy, and Lisa Cale.

The top honor – the 2021 Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service – was earned by GEMS (Gates Emergency Ministries).

Eure noted that the Medallion Award, implemented in 2006, recognizes the top 25 volunteers statewide.

GEMS, which prior to the pandemic was open for citizens to walk in and receive food, was able to conduct drive-thru food pick-up events approximately every three weeks. Those distribution events served nearly 250 families, placing food in the hands of those needing it the most.

The GEMS volunteers spend countless hours packing boxes and organizing distribution events.

Renee McGinnis, who accepted the award on behalf of GEMS, recognized the volunteers that helped the group gain statewide accolades.

“This award goes to all of our volunteers; they are the ones who make it work,” McGinnis stated. “We’ve been blessed to have churches and youth groups to come out and help during the food distribution events. We also appreciate the monetary donations, they’ve been a hug help. And thanks to the Gates County Board of Commissioners for allowing us to spread out in the building.”

Dr. Althea Riddick, chair of the commissioners, congratulated all the Governor’s Volunteer Award winners and the Medallion Award winner for all they do to make Gates County such a great place to live.

“What a wonderful celebration of volunteerism; these awards are well-deserved,” Dr. Riddick said. “Hopefully this will inspire others to become volunteers.”


About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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