Three Pulaski County residents and volunteers were honored recently as top award winners by the New River Valley Leading Lights organization.
At the organization’s Recognition Ceremony, held April 11 at the German Club Manor at Virginia Tech, 60 volunteers were recognized as Leading Lights nominees, with 11 of the nominees received distinguished recipient awards.
Carol Smith was presented with the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award, while Dan Grubb and Mackenzie Farmer were recognized among the Community and High School distinguished award recipients respectively.
Distinguished Award recipients included two high school students, two college students and six community members from the City of Radford and counties of Floyd, Giles, Pulaski and Montgomery, along with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
Each distinguished recipient received $500 in which to donate to a New River Valley non-profit of their choosing, while the Lifetime Achievement honor came with $1,000 to be donated.
Smith said she would donate her $1,000 from winning the Lifetime Achievement Award to the Draper Community Park effort, which she has helped to spearhead.
“It was a great honor and a humbling experience,” said Smith about winning the award.
In the 11 years of the NRV Leading Lights honoring volunteers, 574 individuals have been nominated as Leading Lights with 79 awards being presented to outstanding volunteers. NRV Leading Lights has now donated $57,000 to organizations in the region.
A total of four Pulaski County High School students were among the 60 Leading Lights nominees: Kaylee Corvin, Bronzson Lawson, Jaelyn Szerokman and Farmer.
Two New River Community College students were also among the 60 Leading Lights college nominees: Clendal Brown and Tiffany Smith.
Four Pulaski County residents were among the Leading Lights community nominees: the late Betty Lou Kirkner, Stan Stanley, Dean Jackson and Grubb.
Two Pulaski Countians – Bobbie Knoezer and Smith – were among the four Lifetime Achievement Award nominees.
Leading Lights stated Smith has been an “exemplar of outstanding community service for a lifetime.”
“She is dedicated to serving the Pulaski County community and does so as both a leader and a worker bee, and her volunteer efforts have made a difference in the lives of many.
“Carol has volunteered at such places as Girl Scouts, Daughters of the American Revolution specializing in honoring veterans, Pulaski Community Partners Coalition to create a drug-free community, Friends of the Pulaski County Library, Ratcliffe Museum, Draper Community Park, Pulaski County Courthouse historic exhibits, Sunday school teacher and youth leaders, PTA at three elementary schools, Boy Scouts and many others.”
About Grubb, Leading Lights said “from early on, Dan has given back to his community in various ways.”
“He has served since 1986 in many capacities such as the President of the Board of Directors of the Pulaski YMCA, District Chairman and VP of Programs for the Boy Scouts of America / Blue Ridge Mt. Council, as well as board member of the Randolph House Foundation and the Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce.
“Dan has a heart for non-profits and dedicates both his time and resources to local causes. His work behind the scenes and a special knack for bringing people together motivates others to get involved as well.
“He is the first one to say ‘sign me up,’ and he is there to meet the needs of the Pulaski community.”
About Farmer, Leading Lights said she is “an outstanding student leader – being a member of the National Honor Society – friend, family member and community role model.”
“She has been volunteering for nine years, with a myriad of organizations. She loves animals, so she helps the Dublin Animal Hospital. She answers the phone and visits patients at Intrepid Hospice in Radford, and she does clerical duties at WBLB radio.
“As an officer in Future Farmers of America, she volunteers at the Pulaski County Christmas Store, Ag. Day for fifth graders, Ag. Literacy Week, fundraising for the Ricky Jones Memorial Scholarship, and their general store, Pat’s Patch. She is involved with children’s needs at McHarg Elementary School and Grove United Methodist Church, and went on a mission trip to American Christian Indian Mission in Arizona.”
Keynote speaker for the evening was Marisela Rosas Hemphill, First Lady of Radford University.
Since 2009, New River Valley Leading Lights has acknowledged and honored volunteers across the NRV who are making community-changing impacts, culminating in an annual celebratory banquet.
NRV Leading Lights was formed following the events of April 16, 2007 at Virginia Tech. During this time, the Virginia Tech community witnessed an incredible outpouring of support from community members who performed extraordinary acts of service in response to the tragedy.
Seeing the importance of volunteers during this time inspired the German Club Alumni Foundation at Virginia Tech and other community leaders. They created NRV Leading Lights in an effort to recognize the incredible contribution volunteers make to our community every day.
Several Pulaski County residents have been recognized as past Leading Lights Distinguished Recipients, including: Jessica Shelburne, Diane Blair, Nancy and Bill Hudson, Ben Webster, Archie Boothe and Merilyn and Dave Armstrong.
Two Pulaski County residents – Gary and Sharon Eifried – serve on the NRV Leading Lights Board of Directors.
Anyone interested in nominating someone to be considered next year as a Leading Light may do so by visiting www.leadinglightsnrv.org
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot