Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)
February 11, 2012
Rice, 18 volunteers recognized for agency work at annual dinner presentation
ASHLAND — When Kim Rice became director the Ashland Senior Center six years ago, the center on 15th Street in downtown Ashland was losing its focus and patrons, Steve Towler, executive director of the United Way of Northeast Kentucky, told the more than 200 people attending Thursday night's annual United Way Volunteer Recognition Dinner.
During its six years under Rice's leadership, the senior center "has more than doubled in size with more activities and interest, mostly because of the wonderful support staff under the leadership of the director," Towler said. The center "often offers entertainment, programs to improve and enhance a healthy lifestyle and to meet the needs of senior adults."
For those accomplishments, Rice was named the 2012 United Way Director of the Year, an award given annually to a director of one of the more than 60 nonprofit agencies in Boyd, Greenup, Carter, Lawrence and Elliott counties that receive funds from the United Way.
Rice is a "kind, cheerful person who listens to the needs of seniors," Towler said. "She is always there for them whether its one-on-one or as a group. She offers support and cares for and often visits those who are sick and greets her employees with a warm smile and pleasant thoughts. She goes out of her way to serve the seniors and often visits those who are sick or unable to get out."
Tipped off that she was to receive the award, 24 regulars at the senior center were on hand for the occasion.
"I commend them for successfully keeping this a secret," Rice said. "That's pretty amazing, but Iâ^had no idea that I was going to receive this."
In a sense, Rice said she felt a bit guilty for receiving the honor. "You shouldn't receive an award for something that is so much fun."
In addition to Rice's award, 18 volunteers were recognized for the work they did at one of th United Way agencies, including two awards given posthumously.
Gordon Scott, who died May 27, 2011, was honored for his volunteer work at the Ashland Senior Center.
"Gordon was a very quiet and faithful servant, not just for the Ashland Senior Center but our entire community," Kim Rice said in announcing the award. "He was an active servant of First United Methodist Church and the Ashland Area Emmaus Community as well as other organizations including the American Cancer Society, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Boy Scouting and the Hillcrest-Bruce Mission. Every community needs people like Gordon who give of their time and talents not because they seek personal glory but because they believe and want to make a difference."
Eight members of Scott's family, including his widow, his daughters and grandchildren, came from Lexington to accept the award.
On the day of her death in November of 2011, Diane Watkins spent four hours at Ashland Community Kitchen helping to prepare and serve the Thanksgiving dinner, said Don Perry, United Way board chairman, in announcing the award.
"Diane was the assistant youth director of Sybene Missionary Baptist Church in South Point," Perry said. Diane fell in love with every aspect of the Community Kitchen and became a close friend to everyone."
Diane Watkins' husband, Roger Watkins, who continues to volunteer at the Community Kitchen and is the agency's volunteer coordinator, accepted the award in memory of his late wife.
Others recognized for exceptional volunteerism at individual United Way agencies were Nancy Payne, Ashland Senior Center; Joe Cunningham, CAReS; Matt Onion, CASA of Northeast Kentucky; the family of Larry, April and J.T. Hall, The Dressing Room; Martha Rice, Friends of the Children; Lee Price, Wilderness Road Girl Scouts; Mike Garlinger, Greenup Habitat for Humanity; Gerry Hatfield, Hillcrest-Bruce Mission; Jeff Riggs, Helping Hands; Mandy Wheeler, Hope's Place; Glenda Marin, Community Hospice; Roy Tackett and Lewis Voyers, Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital Meals on Wheels; Rob Langford, River Cities Harvest; Marty Vannatter, Safe Harbor; Candy Goldie, Shelter of Hope; Rachel Goris, Two Hearts Pregnancy Care Center; Virginia Carter Red Cross of Northeast Kentucky.
Those attending the dinner also heard about two initiatives the local United Way has started that are separate from the United Way's fundraising effort and part of its desire to be "more than a fundraiser," as Paul McDowell, chairperson of the successful 2011 campaign, said.
April Perry, CEO of Kentucky Farmers Bank, spoke briefly about Bank On, a program designed to help the "unbanked and underbanked" residents of the five counties become smarter and better managers of their money. She said about a third of the adults in Boyd, Greenup, Carter, Lawrence and Elliott counties are unbanked or underbanked and rely or payday lenders or other short-term loans that have high interest rates when in need of money.
Nearly every bank and credit union in the five counties has expressed an interest in being part of Bank On, which will be officially launched on July 1.
Mary Crowley is coordinator of the United Way's new volunteer center, and she encouraged those seeking opportunities to volunteer to register with the center website at www.NWNEK.org. The website is designed to connect volunteers with the needs in the community, she said.
Boyd County Middle School's "Sign of the Times" choir provided the entertainment for the dinner. The choir, that features members using sign language, has been directed by Nina DeSantis since is was founded in 1985.