31st annual Volunteers of the Year Awards- winners announced!

Outstanding volunteer teams and individuals were recognized on April 24 at the 31st annual Volunteer of the Year Awards, presented by Truist, American Legion Post 23, and BGMU, at the Bob Kirby Branch of the Warren County Public Library. The following individuals and groups were recognized for their service.


Anne Grubbs Spirit of Serve Award

VIVIAN FOE, nominated by Community Education


This award recognizes those excelling in quality, length, and spirit of service to others.


There is no one who epitomizes this award more than Community Education’s own, Vivian Foe. She is a retired teacher from Bowling Green Independent Schools. Her love and passion for education and helping others, not only in our community but literally around the world, is legendary. Locally, Vivian has been involved with Community Education for more than 30 years in service on the Board of Directors, Advisory Council, Stand for Children Day committee and volunteer, Spellabration, Blockbusters at the Ballpark, and much more. Vivian serves our community in other ways, as well, including  First Baptist Church- in over 45, serving as director of Woman’s Missionary Union, Sunday School, preschool/daycare, and others; WKU Faculty Wives member; Eloise B. Houchens Center’s  Board of Directors; many offices with Bowling Green Women’s Club, including the scholarship committee with WKU; Long-term Care Ombudsman Board; Meals on Wheels; UK Extension Office Homemakers Club; various offices in Woodmen Life; Feeding America; AARP Bowling Green, KY; and more.


This year’s other nominees included:


Bowling Park, nominated by Community Action RSVP


Cindy Hines, nominated by Heather Hines



Diana Horn, nominated by Saturday Meals


Teresa Zackery, nominated by Toys for Tots


Team Spirit Award

MT ZION BAPTIST CHURCH, nominated by Community Education


This award recognizes those groups who work together to provide service in the community.


Mount Zion Baptist Church makes a difference in our community by hosting and providing leadership to the monthly food distribution in Warren County through a partnership with Feeding America. Each month, they lead, plan, and organize more than 50 volunteers and serve more than 1,000 families and senior citizens. During the year and throughout the pandemic, they also host and lead other special food distribution events. This past year, in partnership with the Bowling Green Police Department, they held the inaugural event, “Back to School Block Party.” BGPD and Mount Zion Baptist Church brought the community together for fellowship, and fun, and blessed attendees with school supplies and backpacks. And yet, their work continues. The church served as a donation site for tornado victims and, during the pandemic, as a COVID-19 Vaccine Pop-up Clinic. They participated in and distributed items to those in need as a part of “Mackenzie’s Church Water Challenge 2021.” They, along with UnitedHealthcare, sponsored a free flu clinic; served at The Foundry; are members of the Trailblazer Awards; and partnered with Jonesville Academy for their “Silver Bells Holiday Collection Drive for Seniors.” Over the years, they have hosted special events for the community such as the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration “A Night with the King: Standing Up for a Dream” and the “Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Review.”


This year’s other nominees included:


Edmonson County Senior Center, nominated by Community Action RSVP


Good Deeds Club, nominated by Toys for Tots


Greenwood High School JROTC, nominated by Toys for Tots


Rookie Award

WANDA NEVINS, Community Action RSVP


This award recognizes an individual or group who is new to volunteering, beginning their service with an organization during the last 24 months.


Wanda is our choice for the Rookie Award because she consistently exhibits our core values of generosity, virtue, and public service. RSVP was introduced to individuals in Butler County in April 2021. The new program in Butler County allows for Wanda’s services to be further expanded so that she can help serve those in need. Wanda consistently spends her free time volunteering there to further solidify our organization’s ties with the community and its resources. A good example of Wanda’s commitment to the Community is this year’s Tornado Donation Distribution in Butler County. When the call went out seeking help with the overwhelming amounts of donations, Wanda stepped up. She worked very hard, along with many fellow members of the community, to meet the needs of the tornado victims. Not only did she work long hours, but she also helped distribute food to seniors. Wanda’s skills are numerous and impressive, and she continues to serve her community by preparing home-delivered meals for seniors; monthly commodity distribution; performing health, safety, and welfare checks to the clients she serves; and driving the city transit bus on the weekends in Morgantown to assist individuals to appointments, grocery shopping, etc. Wanda has provided more than 177 hours of service since July 2021 and continues to serve her community each day with open arms.


This year’s other nominee included:


Gene Wilson, nominated by Historic RailPark and Train Museum


Pandemic Response Award



This award will recognize an individual or group who has made an impact in our community in response to the pandemic.


When the COVID-19 vaccination was approved and the search for mass vaccination sites began, Greenwood Mall’s Management Team sprang into action. Working with local officials and the Governor, they were able to quickly get approval for the use of the space formerly occupied by Sears. A large amount of space was needed as people from across the BRADD region came to receive their vaccine. In fact, over 25,000 vaccinations were performed. The management team was able to transform a major shopping center into a massive, region-wide vaccine site, only one of very few across the state. Greenwood Mall became the “hub” of COVD-19 vaccine sites in our entire area, and it was all donated as the Management Team sought to do their part to reopen safely and worked in the background as others received recognition. However, Greenwood Mall Management Team made up of Shelli, David, Jennifer, Donnie, and others, stepped up to donate the space and the many volunteer hours to help make it happen.


This year’s other nominees included:


Med Center Health COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic, nominated by Carla Reagan


Warren County Parks and Recreation, Community Education


Ronnie and Gena Yoakem, Community Action RSVP


Tornado Relief- Team Award

WARREN COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS, nominated by Dr. Tracey Young


This award will recognize those groups who have made an impact in our community in response to the recent tornadoes.


Warren County Public Schools (WCPS) strive to provide students with achievement, safety, and opportunities in and out of the classroom. That mission has never been clearer than after tornadoes devastated our community in December 2021. WCPS faculty and staff dove in moments after the tornadoes to help the community. Here are just a few of the ways:

  • Staff members got a bus and started driving through the dark streets, going door to door checking on families and pleading with them to come out of the rubble and come to the schools where they would have heat, food, and the comfort of WCPS staff there to support them.
  • Created impromptu childcare where they provided love and nurturing, engaging 50-80 children each day with activities, while their parents worked with officials to begin the process of navigating life without their homes.
  • They delivered 25,614 meals to the hardest-hit areas. In addition, they coordinated breakfast, lunch, and supper every day for a week for more than 1,000 volunteers, first responders, and storm shelter residents, serving more than 21,000 meals in the seven days following the storm.
  • They sent truckloads of water and supplies to Dawson Springs and Mayfield, even donating a school bus to Mayfield.
  • As a district and in conjunction with community mental health providers, they supplied free mental health counseling for volunteers and storm victims.
  • Within hours of the storm, they worked to establish a tornado relief fund that has since raised over one million dollars to help families in the community.

Mr. Rob Clayton, the Superintendent, said Team WCPS is committed to being with our community at large, supporting those most in need in the days, months, and years to come, as we all navigate life after the tornadoes and honor those that lost so much.


This year’s other nominees included:


Green River Regional Educational Cooperative (GRREC), nominated by Toys for Tots


Living Hope Baptist Church, nominated by Community Education


Simpson County Senior Center, nominated by Community Action RSVP


Tornado Relief- Individual Award

Kaitlyn Wilkins, nominated by Debi Wade Jordan


This award will recognize those groups who have made an impact in our community in response to the recent tornadoes.


Kaitlyn Wilkins has been an incredible force in stepping up to meet the immediate needs of people whose lives and homes were upended due to the horrific storms that ravaged our community in December. Wilkins lives on Oriole Street, just houses away from homes that were damaged or obliterated by the tornadoes. Immediately she and her husband knew that they had to do something to care for those impacted.

The next morning, they put the word out through the community that they would be cooking out on their gas grill for anyone who needed a meal. Wilkins said they just emptied out their refrigerator and freezer and grilled whatever they had. “It kind of just blew up, honestly. We legitimately only planned on doing it just the one day, then more than 40 people showed up with food to grill and to help. We had no power, but we could grill,” Wilkins said.

From the first day, Wilkins said she was fortunate to collaborate with many people and organizations to continue to provide food for the hundreds who needed it. “A group came from Maryland that fed 800 people,” Wilkins said. Whitney McCubbins of Whit Dogs reached out and offered to help. Her food truck had a kitchen that allowed for better food preparation. Soon, five or six more food trucks volunteered. A World Central Kitchen staff member showed up at Wilkins’ door, hugged her, and said, “We are going to help you.” They funded meals for 300 people per day for six weeks. Just as that funding ended, Lee Initiative of Louisville funded the next six weeks. Volunteers from four local churches came each day to drive meals to victims in other parts of the city that needed food. “It was a very God thing,” Wilkins said, as needs continued to be met. Papa John’s donated $5,000 in gift cards to help feed families after the food trucks stopped. Wilkins stressed, “For the first two months we were feeding over 300 people every single day. Not one of whom got approved for FEMA.”

In addition to providing hot, balanced meals to victims, volunteers, and workers, Wilkins set up a food pantry on her front porch, which is still going on. “We are a one-income family,” Wilkins said. As long as people keep bringing stuff, we will keep using our porch. There are fewer and fewer people coming, so hopefully, people are beginning to get what they need.”

When asked where this spirit of service and collaboration came from, Wilkins replied, “My mom, whenever we were children, started a non-profit hotdog truck. She homeschooled us and wanted us to learn about running a business AND helping people.” Wilkins said they would then donate proceeds from the truck to area needs, such as the humane society. “I guess that just stuck!”


This year’s other nominees included:


Doug & Michelle Gorman were nominated anonymously



Debbie Ward, nominated by Karen Foley (Ronnie Ward standing in)


Truist Spirit of Community Award

Bowling Green Hot Rods


This award goes to an organization or business that merits special recognition for volunteer service in the community.


After several ups and downs, the ground was broken for Bowling Green Ballpark in June 2008. The Hot Rods kicked off the 2009 season in the beautiful, new facility.

Professional baseball was back in Bowling Green for the first time in 67 years. Fans have enjoyed quality baseball as well as many other special events at Bowling Green Ballpark.

The Hot Rods are much more than a baseball team and Bowling Green Ballpark is much more than an athletic stadium. While the management could keep the public away from the ballpark except for games, they have gone in the opposite direction by throwing open the gates as often as possible if it benefits the community. A partial list of the groups and causes the Hot Rods have supported is quite impressive.

  • Tornado Relief
  • Boyz to Men
  • Community Education – Summer Activities Fair, Stand for Children, Blockbusters at the Ballpark, and all-day programs including the 2017 solar eclipse program
  • Relay for Life
  • Down Syndrome of Southern Kentucky – Step Up for Down Syndrome
  • Junior Woman’s Club’s Coats for Kids
  • Stuff the Bus Foundation
  • Kids on the Block
  • Norton Children’s Hospital
  • Rockin’ Trick or Treat – Crocker Law Firm and Stuff the Bus
  • Dream Big Camp celebrity softball game
  • Easter Egg Hunts
  • Non-profit dinners and auctions
  • Bolidos de BG
  • Broadway UMC Easter Church services
  • High school and college baseball games
  • School appearances by team mascots

The Hot Rods and the Bowling Green Ballpark under their direction are great assets not just to baseball fans, but to every person living in southcentral Kentucky.


Special Thanks

Our sponsors: Truist, American Legion Post 23, and BGMU

Kathy Duvall caterer, Oak Tree Awards & Recognition, Rickman Pottery, 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].