Posted 6/11/19

Volunteers of local nonprofit organization The Caring Place were honored during a special reception Monday on the campus of Lee University. Corinne Freeman, executive director of The Caring …

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Volunteers of local nonprofit organization The Caring Place were honored during a special reception Monday on the campus of Lee University. 

Corinne Freeman, executive director of The Caring Place, said it “would not be possible” for the organization to provide food, clothing and other services without help from volunteers.

"This is an opportunity that we have as an agency to honor our most valuable assets — our volunteers," Freeman said to them. "You are, hands down, the most valuable resource that we have." 

She said the nonprofit was able to provide food for 4,415 adults, 518 senior adults and 2,406 children, "unduplicated," over the past year with help from volunteers. 

Volunteers also helped pack and deliver 23,000 Sac Pacs, bags of food provided to local schoolchildren each week during the school year so they do not go hungry during the weekends. 

They also helped prepare clothing to be given to 3,900 families, including 2,214 children and 430 senior adults. 

After words of thanks were offered to all of the volunteers in attendance at the reception, staff of The Caring Place gave awards to some its outstanding volunteers. 

Bill McConnell was the recipient of this year's top award, the Danny O'Neal Service Award. The award’s namesake was known for going above and beyond by looking for things that needed to be done and doing them without fanfare. 

Freeman said McConnell has also demonstrated this quality in his work. He has been with The Caring Place for many years, and he has taken it upon himself to tackle tasks like mowing the lawn regularly. 

McConnell said his heart for service was inspired by O'Neal, and he remains inspired by his fellow volunteers today. He thanked Freeman for the honor but told the other volunteers, the award "belongs to you too." 

Four volunteers were also presented awards for their help in specific departments within The Caring Place.

Linda Kincaid was the recipient of this year's Clothing Department Award.  Clothing department manager Angie Quimby said she is known for her dedication and kindness in the small things, such as providing snacks for fellow volunteers. 

"She is a very good person and a blessing to us,"  Quimbn said. "We are so happy to have her." 

Lynnette Rataiczak was honored with the Registration Department Award. Freeman said The Caring Place had a "really busy year," and Rataiczak stepped in to help staff work to streamline the registration process. 

Husband and wife Bryan and Betsy Poole received this year's Food Department Award. Food warehouse manager Sheila McElhaney said they have remained consistent and work hard despite busy schedules. 

"These particular volunteers come in and hit the ground running," she said of their work. 

Jimmy Cooke was given the Madison Jackson Sac Pac Award. This award’s namesake is a young girl who, beginning at age 6, worked to raise money to support the Sac Pac program, which provides children in need with weekly bags of food during the school year. 

Brian Stewart, who oversees the Sac Pac effort, said Cooke "defines what commitment is all about," having served "every single week." 

Volunteers honored Monday also included some who had reached the milestones of having volunteered for five or 10 years.

Bob Cruden was honored for 10 years of service with The Caring Place. Volunteers honored for serving five years were:  Linda Dyszkiewicz, Gary Fuller, Pat Fuller, Coty McFarland, Ralph Murray, Virginia Murray and David Smith. 

The Caring Place currently has 128 volunteers who help out at least on an occasional basis. However, it is always looking for new people interested in helping with is goal of “meeting needs with love.” 

For more information on the organization or to learn more about volunteering, visit www.thecaringplaceonline.org or call 423-472-4414.


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