PEOPLE IN THE VOLUNTEER STATE ARE ANSWERING THE CALL OF SERVICE
Tennessee has several nicknames, but is most often referred to as "The Volunteer State." This nickname originated during the War of 1812, when Governor Willie Blount issued a call for volunteers that resulted in thousands of enlistments. Today, there are many extraordinary Tennesseans volunteering their time and talents, a few of whom have recently received much-deserved recognition for their selfless, outstanding service.
Heather Henderson is a young Tennessean working to make a difference. The teenage Girl Scout from Ooltewah has received national recognition for her work with the Craniofacial Foundation of America, which supports the Tennessee Craniofacial Center in Chattanooga. Heather worked to organize a camping weekend at Booker T. Washington State Park for patients and families of the center.
The planning of the weekend involved many logistics, including seeking donations from the community and funds from the Ronald McDonald House Children's Charities. In addition, the weekend's activities, meals, and medical staffing had to be arranged. This is no easy task for a teenager with school duties and other responsibilities. When she planned the camping outing last year, Heather designed the weekend for 16 participants. However, she received such an overwhelming response that the number of participants doubled.
For her effort and dedication, Heather was named, by Girl Scouts of the USA, one of only eleven Girl Scouts nation-wide to receive the Girl Scout Gold Award, Young Women of Distinction. Heather's "Dreams Do Come True" project will continue to make a difference in people's lives, as the camping weekend will be continued in the future under the Girl Scouts of Moccasin Bend Council.
Two Tennesseans recently traveled to Washington to receive Jefferson Awards from the American Institute for Public Service. Jefferson Awards are given on both the local and national level to recognize ordinary citizens for outstanding community and public service. These volunteers give their time without any desire for recognition or reward, and they are nominated by various Jefferson Awards media sponsors.
Willie Mae Nunley was nominated by WRCB-TV in Chattanooga for her perseverance and dedication in helping low-income citizens in Grundy County. Willie Mae, who was raised in poverty herself, began her service over a decade ago. She and her friends founded the Appalachian Women's Guild, which provides families with numerous resources and services such as food, clothing, job training, counseling, and crisis assistance.
When a fire tragically consumed the Guild, Willie Mae worked to rebuild the facility and continue its service to those in the community. In addition to the Appalachian Women's Guild, Willie Mae founded The Barefoot Boy Program, which helps families receive clothes and basic school supplies such as books, paper, pencils, and backpacks. By providing students with the supplies they need, but might not be able to afford, Willie Mae is playing an important role in helping students learn so they can succeed in the future.
Dr. Allen O. Battle, a clinical psychologist and teacher at the University of Tennessee Mental Health Center was nominated by The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. He was recognized for dedicating his life to helping others emotionally and physically through establishing an all-volunteer Memphis Suicide Prevention and Crisis Center. For nearly 30 years, Dr. Battle has taken time from a busy practice to recruit and train volunteers to work at the center and take calls from those in crisis. Dr. Battle has also worked with numerous programs and agencies, including the Memphis Police Department, to train individuals to deal with suicide threats and other mental health crises.
Work like this saves lives and strengthens those around us. Tennessee is fortunate to have compassionate individuals like Heather, Willie Mae, Dr. Battle, and the many others in our state who have answered the call of service. When we work to strengthen our communities through good works, we remove barriers, give people a chance to succeed, and strengthen our nation for the better.