28th annual Volunteer of the Year winners announced

Outstanding volunteer teams and individuals were recognized April 30 at the 28th annual Volunteer of the Year Awards, presented by BB&T and Kirby & Moore, LLP, 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- Melanie Smith, Eloise B. Houchens Center Board

Melanie is a long-time board member at Eloise B. Houchens Center where she has served as the president and is the go-to the person for anything having to do with computers, printing and publicity work. She serves with the Landmark Association where she helps with fundraising efforts and handles communication for the group. As an active member of the Bowling Green Garden Club, she participates in their many activities that improve the community. In addition, she has provided leadership for the B.G.H.S. Band Boosters, Habitat for Humanity, March of Dimes, and the Junior Woman’s Club. Jonathan Jeffrey, department head for Western Kentucky University Special Collections Library, said that Melanie “volunteers to make organizations better” and “never stakes claim to credit for her volunteer work.”

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


The other volunteers recognized were:

Ryan Dearbone, Community Education

Sharon Durie, American Red Cross

Romanza Johnson, Kids on the Block


Team Spirit Award- Empty Bowls of Bowling Green, Community Education

Empty Bowls of Bowling Green’s motto is “working to end hunger, one bowl at a time” and over the past five years they have been doing just that. Garry Taylor, a local potter, discovered the fundraiser and decided to bring the event to Bowling Green in 2013.  With the help of the members of St. James United Methodist Church, HOTEL INC, Life Care Ministry, and Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Culinary Arts this group has taken on the responsibility to plan and coordinate Empty Bowls of Bowling Green. All the money raised supports two local food banks: Manna Mart at HOTEL INC and the Life Care Ministry run by University Church of Christ. Since 2013, more than $60,000 has been raised to support the two food banks and more than 3,000 bowls have been donated.

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


The other volunteer groups recognized were:

Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority, BGJHS Youth Services Center

SKyPAC Ambassadors, Southern Ky. Performing Arts Center

South Warren High School Football Team, Community Education


Rookie Award- Magen Estep, Kids on the Block

Magen began volunteering in the Kids on the Block office, but it wasn’t long before she was tapped to become a board member as a result of her energy and determination. She wanted to grow the Kids on the Block programming in her hometown of Franklin, so poured her efforts into the third annual Shamrock Sprint, a free kids’ run and fundraiser.  Magen grew sponsorships, bombarded social media and put up posters, and increased the number of children participating in the event. She was boots on the ground the day of the event, arriving early to set up and staying late to clean up. Her graphic design skills have allowed Kids on the Block to be marketed in a more effective way, resulting in a spike for supporters for events. She is actively involved with many other nonprofits including CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), Bowling Green Junior Woman’s Club, Potter Gray Elementary PTO, and Junior Achievement of South Central Kentucky.

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


The other volunteers recognized were:

Caroline Flora-Collins, Eloise B. Houchens Center Board

Terri Hewitt, Bowling Green Junior High School Football Team


BB&T Spirit of Community Award- American Legion Post 23  

In the last ten years, American Legion Post 23, has donated more than $2 million to nonprofits and those in need in our community. Boys and Girls Club, Community Education, HOTEL INC, Kids Sportstime, Salvation Army, as well as The Good Deeds Club at Alvaton Elementary School have been just a few of the agencies that have benefited from their generosity. They provide transportation for veterans to the Nashville VA Hospital, visit veterans in nursing homes monthly, serve dinners at the Bridge, and set up veterans in apartments who need a hand up. American Legion has anonymously given to various needs in our community and is always ready to serve.

Don Butler (center) along with VIA Board members Linda Krutza and Joshua Smith, accepts the BB&T Spirit of Community Award on behalf of American Legion Post 23 Commander Roger Miller, the officers, and all the members of Post 23.

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


Special Thanks to our sponsors: BB&T and Kirby & Moore, LLP, the Eloise B. Houchens Center, 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].