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Volunteers honored for their hands-on efforts
Hands 2 WEB
Dozens of community volunteers attended the Celebration of Hands dinner Monday. - photo by Jim Dean

Awards at a glance

Community partner awards

Jesse’s House – Lorraine, Randy and Kelli Mitchell

Forsyth County school system social workers – Wendy Goodrow

CASA – Cindy Bowman

Bald Ridge Lodge – Gaynor Litsch

Mentor Me North Georgia – Clay Watson

Garden of Empowerment – Nancy Lee

SAFFT – Nancy Harrelson

Reaping Nature – Lisa LaFayette

Chamber of Commerce – Kristin Marchman

Habitat for Humanity – Bob Banker

Forsyth County Public Library – Bruce Koehler

Literacy Forsyth – Geri Thiery

Girls on the Run – Barbara Butcher

Cedar Hill – Helen and Gordon Benson

Abba House – Gerry Bock

Cumming Playhouse – John and Marjorie Reeves

Hands on Forsyth awards

Youth Volunteer of the Year – Emily Walden

Adult Volunteer of the Year – Heather Tallant

Civic Partner of the Year – Forsyth County Ladies League

Small Business Partner of the Year – Lance’s Jewelry

Corporate Partner of the Year – Advanced Disposal

Source: Forsyth County Community Connection

They spend hundreds, sometimes thousands, of hours organizing food and clothing pantries, mentoring at-risk youth and supporting the local arts community.

While they don’t expect a dime for their efforts, many of Forsyth County’s best and brightest volunteers were honored Monday.

The awards were part of the Forsyth County Community Connection’s Celebration of Hands dinner at Windermere Golf Club.

Community Connection seeks to provide support to other local nonprofits. Through a branch of the group called Hands on Forsyth, those wishing to volunteer are matched to agencies needing assistance.

Hands on Forsyth volunteers log their hours and projects on the organization’s Web site.

Virgilio Perez Pascoe, president of the Community Connection board, said the organization has continued to see participation climb.

“This year, we’ve had about 7,000 volunteers giving some 10,000 hours to our community,” he said. “That’s a big improvement over last year, when we had 5,500 volunteers.”

He said if you count each hour of volunteer service at a rate of $21.36, this year’s economic impact from volunteers is nearly $214,000.

Pascoe said the volunteers honored Monday night, along with the others who give their time and talents, help Community Connection meet its goal of “making sure every family in Forsyth is healthy, engaged and self-sufficient.”

Pascoe also thanked the organization’s staff, Nicole Morgan, executive director, and Kerry Rosewall, volunteer coordinator.

“The organization has come a long way and will continue to go farther in the future because of your leadership,” he told Morgan.

The majority of the evening was dedicated to recognizing 21 volunteers, 16 of whom were nominated by partner agencies.

Among them: Jesse’s House and the Bald Ridge Lodge; Forsyth County school system; Mentor Me North Georgia; the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce; public library system; Literacy Forsyth; Abba House; and the Cumming Playhouse.

Five awards were also presented directly from Hands on Forsyth.

Heather Tallant, who was not able to attend the dinner, received the Adult Volunteer of the Year award.

Morgan said Tallant logged 355 hours of service last year through the Junior League of Forsyth County and a number of other projects with the school system.

The Civic Partner of the Year award went to the Forsyth County Ladies League, which Morgan said has some 300 members who are “always ready to support” any effort of Community Connection.

Some the group’s projects include a drive to collect clothing and other items for needy mothers of students in the local Head Start preschool program and food drives.

Lance’s Jewelry was presented the Small Business Partner of the Year award.

Morgan said the owner, Lance White, “truly has a heart of gold.”

White frequently collects donations for the Humane Society of Forsyth County and is “generous in donating funds and auction items to support numerous other organizations,” Morgan said.

Advanced Disposal was named the group’s Corporate Partner of the Year.

“This company gives generously of its time and financial resources,” said Morgan, who also thanked Marcie Kreager, the company’s community affairs manager.

The last award of the evening went to Emily Walden, who was named the organization’s Youth Volunteer of the Year.

“At 15, Emily has a tremendous commitment to serve her community, her church and her family,” Rosewall said, noting that Walden logged nearly 190 volunteer hours.

“That’s an over $4,000 impact to the community,” she said.

The rising sophomore at Forsyth Central High School has volunteered through vacation Bible school at her church, as well as a number of band, football and cheerleading camps.

She also participated in the Court Appointed Special Advocates Super Hero Run.

Two years ago, Walden shared the youth award with her sister, Erica, who is still active but didn’t log quite as many hours this year.

“We value all the time we get to work with Emily and Erica before they go off to universities,” Morgan said.

Before concluding the event, she issued a challenge to everyone in attendance.

“I’ll close with the words that I echo annually – ‘To those whom much is given, much is expected,’” she said. “We are blessed to have much in Forsyth County, but there are still those in need every single day.

“Please visit our Web site to get involved and get engaged.”

The group’s Web site is