VOLUNTEERS IN ACTION NAMES 2023 VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR
Volunteers in Action (VIA) recognized outstanding volunteers on April 16 at the 32nd annual Volunteers of the Year Awards. The event at the Bob Kirby Branch of the Warren County Public Library was sponsored by WNKY News 40, American Legion Post 23, and BGMU.
Anne Grubbs Spirit of Service Award
Linda Krutza, honored by Community Education
This award recognizes individuals who excel in quality, length, and spirit of service to others.
Linda serves on the Community Education Board of Directors, as the Chair of its Advisory Council, and on the planning committee for the 50th-anniversary celebration. She also is a steadfast supporter of events such as Blockbusters at the Ballpark, Stand for Children Day, Teen Angel, and the former fundraiser, Spellabration. She has volunteered in any role in which she could be of service to Community Education or the event.
Her service to the community also extends to Hope House, where she serves on their board and assists with their various events; the Institutional Review Board at Western Kentucky University; and her many years of service at Rich Pond Baptist Church. She has been a member of Rich Pond for 37 years and has given her time to the music, children’s, student, and adult ministries, as well as serving people all over the world through missions.
Linda is also a member of the VIA Executive Committee and the steering committee of Vision: a multi-agency council of Warren County.
Her drive and commitment to improving the quality of life for all in our community are why we recognize Linda Krutza.
This year’s other nominees were
Jerry Bray, honored by Community Action RSVP
Sandy Riley, honored by Kids on the Block
Ashlea Shepherd, honored by Debi Wade Jordan
David Smith, honored by Community Action RSVP
Stephanie Weckerly, honored by New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding
Team Spirit Award
First Christian Church Community Grocery, honored by Saturday Meals
This award recognize those groups who work together to provide volunteer service in the community.
The vision statement of the First Christian Church Community Grocery store states it “hopes to increase the number of relationships formed with the guests and neighbors” who visit the grocery. The mission statement describes how the church and grocery “walk alongside its neighbors with dignity, compassion, and respect while supplementing their food needs.”
FCC operated a food pantry for more than 20 years in downtown Bowling Green. However, in August 2021, the church decided to try a grocery store model for two weeks. Each guest was allowed to “shop” at no cost for the food items they wanted. Feedback from the trial was so positive that FCC moved to a permanent grocery model in October of that year.
They now offer each “neighbor” (their name for food recipients) the opportunity to shop for what they need and want. Adding fresh produce, milk, pet food, laundry detergent, and hygiene products created a more typical grocery shopping experience.
Volunteers are encouraged to be active listeners, make eye contact, have relaxed body language, not be in a hurry, and introduce themselves and invite the guests to do the same. Everything the volunteers at the Community Grocery do is designed to provide food items in an environment that serves those in need with dignity and respect. As such, we recognize First Christian Church Community Grocery as Saturday Meals’ Team Spirit Award honoree.
This year’s other nominees were
American Bank & Trust, honored by Community Education
The team of Patricia Brown and Dorothy Taylor, honored by Community Action RSVP
Leadership Bowling Green, honored by Kentucky Kids on the Block
Judi Clark, honored by Community Action RSVP
This award recognizes an individual or group who is new to volunteering and starting their service with your organization during the last 24 months.
Nestled along the town square in the quiet town of Scottsville, there lies a church with an outpouring of resources. First Methodist Church member and RSVP volunteer, Judi Clark, operates the food pantry and hot meal kitchen through the church’s outreach ministry programs.
One of the ministries housed in the church is The Hand Up Food Pantry & Clothes Closet. This ministry offers shelf-stable items to qualifying residents, as well as clothing and household items for families. On average, the pantry serves 20-25 families each week in a community that, according to a Feeding America study, approximately 1 in 7 people (or 13.5 percent) are food insecure.
Also housed in the church is Open Hearts Café, which is open once a week for residents to come and enjoy a free, hot, home-cooked nutritious meal.
Judi also maintains a backpack program for homeless people.
As a retiree, Judi spends most of her days shopping for food, sorting donations, planning meals for the cafe menu, and operating the facilities while supervising volunteers and assisting clients with paperwork. From writing grants, securing funding and resources, to operating Christmas toy drives, Judi is dedicated to serving her community and making an impact on those in need. She has served more than 658 hours through both stations, influencing more than 1,630 hours of service from the volunteers who serve there.
This year’s other nominees were
Boy Scouts of America, Troops 705 and 1920, honored by Toys for Tots
Cindy Campbell, honored by New Beginnings Therapeutic Riding
Max Marley, honored by Kentucky Kids on the Block
Spirit of Community Award
This award is selected by the Executive Committee of Volunteers in Action and recognizes an organization or business that merits special recognition for its volunteer service in the community.
Many people recognize that Starbucks as a corporation gives back globally in significant ways, but the local store on Scottsville Road makes a tremendous impact on the Bowling Green-Warren County community in a million little, and not-so-little, ways.
Of course, coffee leaps to mind as the logical donation that Starbucks provides to nonprofit events to keep folks chugging along at elementary, middle, and high schools for teacher appreciation week; fall festivals; track meets; swim meets; pancake breakfasts; Muffins with Mom; Doughnuts with Dad, and more. They donate to Empty Bowls’ fundraiser for food pantries, for United Way events; Volunteers in Action; Vision: a multi-agency council; and to keep those runners and walkers warm at the Run/Walk for Children, the Medical Center’s 10k Classic, and the March of Dimes Walk for Babies.
They also donate tasty treats shared in massive quantities in their booths at fundraisers such as the Hospice Chocolate Festival and the Taste of Bowling Green.
Starbucks does not only donate their goods, but the Scottsville Road store also provides volunteers and space for fundraising events. In addition to being a vendor for Relay for Life, they also man (or woman!) a team for the event. For 11 years running they have hosted the Teen Angel Donation Blast on the first Friday in December to raise money for teenagers who need Christmas assistance. They provide coffee and treats for volunteers who work the Blast as well as those who donate to the cause.
They built and run a mini food pantry behind their store. They encourage community members to drop off donations of food and personal hygiene products, but the staff keep the mini pantry clean, organized, and stocked.
Although most people don’t know it, the staff at this Starbucks quietly has provided more than a few homeless people with a place to sit out of the elements, a warm beverage, and something to eat. They provide compassion while maintaining dignity.
Other groups and causes Starbucks has supported includes: partnered with the Kids SpOt Center to host an All-Abilities Easter Egg Hunt, Bowling Green-Warren County Habitat for Humanity, BRASS Inc.’s Shop and Share (in-store donation drive), Community Education – Stand for Children Day and Summer Activities Fair, HOTEL INC’s Chili and Cornbread Luncheon and in-store donations, Hope Harbor, International Center of Kentucky’s World Refugee Day, Kentucky Kids on the Block, Lost River Cave – Cocktails and Trails, Snowflurry Scurry, and adopted an area to keep clean, Realtor’s Association – Hope for the Homeless Food Drive, Saturday Meals, and the 2021 Tornado Relief – partnered with American Red Cross, participated in clean-up projects, and served lots of coffee.
Me & My Girls Catering, Oak Tree Awards & Recognition, Rickman Pottery, VidMonster Productions, Warren County Public Library, and, of course, our judges.
Volunteers in Action is made up of a core group of diverse agencies and organizations that rely on the dedication and commitment of community volunteers. For more information on VIA or the VIA Volunteer of the Year Awards, contact Joshua Smith at (270) 842-4281 or [email protected].