United Way recognizes a team of Samaritans

Posted 6/9/19

Good people do good volunteer work because they care about the well-being, and the future, of their community; they don’t do it for public recognition nor for the perceived glamor surrounding the …

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United Way recognizes a team of Samaritans

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Good people do good volunteer work because they care about the well-being, and the future, of their community; they don’t do it for public recognition nor for the perceived glamor surrounding the work of good-deed doers.

They do it because they want to do it.

They do it because it is their way of giving back.

They do it because every community — regardless of collective wealth and quality of life — has pockets of need; some hidden in shadowed corners, some within full view of those willing to see.

Although these Samaritans don’t seek a “thank you,” nor do they expect it, the bestowing of such reward is befitting of any organization willing to show its appreciation to those who go above and beyond in working toward the betterment of their hometown.

In its Annual Meeting & Awards Banquet held in mid-May — a noticeable switch from the gathering’s traditional March gathering — United Way of the Ocoee Region gave us reason to believe in our Cleveland and Bradley County community, and the people who are making a difference every day.

Like most nonprofit organizations, United Way cannot succeed in its people mission without the work of unpaid volunteers, some of whom contribute time as their busy schedules allow and others of whom give their energies almost every day.

It is these public servants who United Way honored in its festive celebration. Consider these award recipients:

William F. Johnson Sr. Community Service Award: This year, United Way named co-recipients, and each has given to the organization is so many ways … not just in monetary contributions, but in unconditional support throughout the years.

They include Beecher Hunter, president of Life Care Centers of America, who is seen as a fixture within the United Way team and among its hundreds, perhaps thousands, of community supporters. 

Joining Hunter as a Johnson Award co-recipient is Cesar Escarcega, plant manager of Eaton Electrical, who was described as a “force in our community” because of his in-house, hands-on involvement with various coat and food drives, as well as United Way’s annual Day of Action.

The naming of two award recipients was aptly explained by United Way President and CEO Matt Ryerson when he told the huge crowd, “It’s a tough process to narrow it down to one candidate.”

So, they didn’t. They named two, and each is well deserving of the honor.

Col. James Tucker Nonprofit Leadership Award: Within the world, and the day-to-day work of United Way, are a slew of nonprofit organizations who share a distinct commonality: They strive to meet people needs.

Derrick Kinsey, CEO at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Ocoee Region, is a key leader within this movement. It is he who earned this year’s Nonprofit Leadership Award, one that was named years ago in honor of the late Col. James Tucker, a longtime executive director of the Boys & Girls Clubs nonprofit, and whose tenure dated back to the earlier years as Boys Club of Cleveland.

Charlotte Thorogood Woman of Impact Award: Named in honor of a Cleveland woman who has given her all for United Way and its heartfelt causes for decades, this year’s Impact Award recipient is Barbara Stone.

Cindy Slater, another longtime United Way volunteer, described the award recipient best when she offered, “Barbara is always the first to raise her hand to volunteer.”

That’s what volunteers do. They raise their hands. They accept challenges. They embrace the day. 

Hunter, Escarcega, Kinsey and Stone do it often. And they do it well.

We congratulate them all for their devotion to a cause so noble as people in need. 

We credit United Way for remembering it’s OK to say “thank you,” even to Samaritans who ask for nothing but the opportunity to help others … thereby giving a further understanding to why Cleveland remains “The City With Spirit.”





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