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Deadline nears for Wilson's top volunteers nominations
Nov 09, 2012 5:30 pm
Those who know a volunteer who deserves to be recognized for striving to improve their communities through service can now nominate them for their good deeds, but time is running out.
Nominations for the fifth annual Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards are being accepted. One youth and one adult from each county will be selected to receive this prestigious award.
Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto's office is in charge of making sure the county's top volunteers are among those recognized by the state. To that end, a committee was formed to process nominations. They will choose the top five adult and the top six youth nominees.
These top candidates will be sent on to an anonymous judging panel which will choose the single adult and youth that best exemplify the volunteer spirit in Wilson County.
The committee, Ken Sweeney, the county mayor's coordinator of special projects Carol Knight, United Way President John McMillin and Lisa Dickson with Wilson County Schools, are screening the nominations.
"We'll do the initial screening," Sweeney said. "Then it's on to the panel of judges."
Sweeney said the panel has received some outstanding applications, but he knows there are more volunteers out there.
"There have been a number of them, but last year there were more," he said. "We've got enough to make selections, but we'd like to see a few more if we could. We just want to make a last public announcement to see if we can get more."
He said Wilson County has a lot of dedicated volunteers to choose from and had high praise for the county mayor's determination to participate in the program.
"You'd be surprised at the amount of volunteer work people do. We'd like to get a few more if we can, but more than anything we want to expose the program and say that this is an annual event that Mayor Hutto has indicated we will take part in every year," he said. "The mayor is very positive about this program. He's a super guy, very straight forward. He does it the way it ought to be done."
All six county high schools will send nominations, but the top six youth contenders won't necessarily come one from each school. The committee foresees the possibility that one school could have more than one nominee. The goal is to get the top volunteers regardless of which school they attend.
"We don't want to be unfair," Sweeney said, adding that the screening process should cut out the possibility that a teacher's pet is nominated undeservedly or a teacher's least favorite student is overlooked unfairly.
Step one was for Knight to get the nomination form onto the county's website.
"Go to wilsoncountytn.com to find the form," Knight said. "It's the only place to go to find the nomination forms."
Step two is to print out the form and give the judging panel reasons your Volunteer Star should be chosen as the top volunteer in Wilson County.
Nominees will be judged based on:
• community’s needs of the volunteer service performed.
• initiative taken to perform the service.
• creativity used to solve a community problem.
• impact of the volunteer service on the community.
Step three is to mail your completed form to Sweeney at 517 Clover Hill Road, Lebanon, TN 37090, or scan your form and email it to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Nominations must be received by Nov. 16.
"The state deadline is Dec. 3 but since we have to fill out the paperwork for the state we gave ourselves 10 days to make that happen," Sweeney said.
As usual, recipients of the volunteer awards will be honored at the Governor’s Volunteer Stars ceremony in Nashville in March. But the nominations committee decided that even to be nominated for good works is an honor in itself, so they decided that all the 11 top contenders will have their own recognition event here in Wilson County before the top two head to Nashville for the state ceremony.
The Wilson County nominees will be honored at a dinner Jan. 15, at 6 p.m. at the Veteran's Building on the Wilson County Fairgrounds.
In his quest to get more nominees, Sweeney went to the most logical places to find people doing good works - local churches.
"I made calls to about 25 churches in Mt. Juliet, Watertown and Lebanon and they said they would get the information out to their congregations," Sweeney said. "Everyone sounded excited about getting the information."
He stressed that people who know these volunteers have to take the initiative to nominate them.
"Nominees don't typically nominate themselves, it takes someone who knows that these folks are volunteering for things," Sweeney said. "They don't do it for self-aggrandizement they do it because it's something they feel good about and something that needs to be done. Unless someone else points those folks out they go unrecognized."
Staff writer Mary Hinds may be reached at 444-3952, ext. 45 or email@example.com.