MILLEDGEVILLE — For the past 25 years Milledgeville resident Kathy Stewart has donated her time five days every week to help out at the local Salvation Army purely through the goodness of her heart and without receiving a paycheck.
“Years ago when I was growing up, we needed Salvation Army and they were there when we needed them; it helped me through my teen years and I never forgot it,” she said. “I’m here about six to seven a hours a day. I don’t do it for pay; I do it to help people. It makes me happy because I know I’m doing what I was supposed to do.”
Stewart’s passion for giving back got her recognized as the 2013 Volunteer of the Year at the annual Georgia Association of Volunteer Administration (GAVA) conference last week.
“I was tricked into going to Atlanta. One of the board members took me up there, and I didn’t know why. We sat down and I was eating my lunch when they were reading off the paper about me and my 25 years. I just burst out crying,” Stewart said. “I don’t [volunteer] for awards; I do it because it’s my way of helping people since I’ve been there and I know what it’s like. I want to thank everyone that voted for me and I appreciate it very much; it makes me feel good.”
Along with Stewart, the Georgia College GIVE Center was also distinguished for its efforts toward various service opportunities throughout the community, naming the organization the 2013 Volunteer Group of the Year. The GIVE Center performs and tracks an average of 50,000 volunteer hours each year by working with more than 80 area agencies.
“We also want to instill in our students a sense of citizenship, responsibility, volunteerism and community spirit. Opportunities to learn and serve in the Baldwin County community provide Georgia College student volunteers with the unique privilege of enhancing their education beyond traditional classroom learning,” said Kendall Stiles, The GIVE Center director. “Through reflection on experiences, volunteers are also challenged to an inner journey of personal growth and an outer journey of commitment to community concerns.”
Since the creation of The GIVE Center in 1997, more than 9,900 volunteers have performed and tracked nearly 550,000 volunteer hours, saving the community around $9.8 million.
“You can see we have many amazing students at Georgia College who are making a huge difference in our community as well as impacting the lives of others,” Stiles said. “This fall as you can see, we will hit our 10,000th volunteer, which is a milestone in itself. Our goal is to give the students the needed information and resources but to allow them to reach their full potential. We want students to use [The GIVE Center] as a learning opportunity as well.”
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