LAURINBURG — Identifying, encouraging and celebrating the volunteers in North Carolina is something Gov. Roy Cooper has emphasized since taking office.
It was the reasons Caroline Farmer, executive director of the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service, visited Laurinburg on Thursday.
Farmer was the guest speaker for the Laurinburg Optimist Club’s monthly meeting. She quizzed the 18 members in attendance about their knowledge of the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, Medallion Award for Volunteer Service and the importance of getting the youth of the community interested in volunteering.
Scotland County can nominate up to 10 people to receive the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, but only one person has been nominated.
Farmer said the reason people’s volunteer efforts go unrecognized is because organizations are unaware who the nomination chair for their county is.
“This is how it is everywhere, y’all are not alone,” she said. “People don’t know to send nominations to the nomination chair. I want you to think about the people in your world, people who volunteer at the hospital, in the community doing litter pick-up whatever — your neighbors are these people.”
Farmer informed the group that Chris English, executive director of the Laurinburg/Scotland County Chamber of Commerce, is the nomination chair for Scotland County and he submits the nominations so people can be considered for the volunteer awards.
“There are a bunch of categories (for the Volunteer Service Award) including family, faith-based, business, senior, group and youth,” Farmer said. “There are also categories based on the particular area of service including animal, veteran or military families, disaster, education, environment and community.”
The award honors the true spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service. Any person, group, or business from the public, non-profit and private sector may be nominated.
The governor’s office also gives out a Medallion Award for Volunteer Service, recipients are presented a medallion signifying their accomplishments and service to their community. The award recognized between 20 to 25 volunteers from across the state, each county is allowed to nominate one person. The winners are selected by a statewide panel which evaluated all the nominations and determines that year’s recipients.
“You know these people,” Farmer said. “I want to know them too.”
The other topic Farmer touched on was encouraging school-aged children to become active volunteers.
“Teenagers don’t volunteer for things, they have to be volunteered,” she said. “How are you going to create a culture, an environment, a nation of volunteering that people go out and help each other if you don’t teach kids to start at an early age. I’m trying to get communities to find ways to get kids regularly engaged in volunteering. I encourage you to look for those opportunities and ask young people to help.”
Volunteer opportunities around the state can be found at www.volunteernc.org.
Amber Hatten can be reached at 910-506-3170.