Volunteers honored at annual lunch

Humanitarian Award

A ukulele band, high school students and long-time supporters were among those honored for exceptional service to Volunteers of America of North Louisiana during the annual Volunteer Luncheon today. About 160 people gathered for the celebration at East Ridge Country Club.

“Together we are changing our community for the better as children learn to succeed in school, people with disabilities reclaim their dignity, seniors live more independently and our national Veterans rebuild their lives,” CEO/President Chuck Meehan told the crowd. “We could not do what we do without your sacrifice and support.”

Last year, about 2,300 volunteers donated more than 5,000 hours to the organization.

Altrusa Award: Ukulele Gumbo

The Ukulele Gumbo Band first approached us asking to do a Christmas community service show and they quickly became part of the family. The music seems to strike a special chord with our senior adults. Some who don’t even remember their address will recall every word to the songs. Always Ukulele Gumbo brings a kind spirit and love for their art, proving music is a universal language.

Ellen Brown Spirit of Volunteerism Award: Caddo Magnet High School

This award honors the first director of the Highland Center, and continues to honor those who invest in the Highland Community. Magnet High students organized a partnership with the Highland Center LightHouse last year. They surpassed our expectations, spending 270 hours in the last year doing homework, reading and playing with our kids. Program coordinator Dewanna Lovelace called them “marvelous.” “I’ve found the volunteer spirit is deep seated at Magnet and we’re thankful for the opportunity,” student Cameron Wallace said.

Simple ChurchChampion of Dignity Award: The Simple Church

A small group from The Simple Church made a shelter feel like home in honor of a member’s father who was a Veteran. They contacted Gary Jaynes, who suggested sprucing up the common room in the new Safe Haven. Within a week, the team from The Simple Church had paint for the common room plus lamps, rugs and artwork for each of the resident’s rooms. Those simple touches remind the Veterans that someone believes in their worth.

Rachel Sparks Memorial Award: Junior League of Shreveport-Bossier

Named for Volunteers of America’s longtime executive director, this award honors those who continue her legacy of leadership and excellence. Throughout our archives, the Junior League of Shreveport-Bossier appears as volunteers and contributors to the Pregnancy Service Center, The LightHouse and always by training young women who have gone on to become some of our most ardent supporters and leaders. This year we honor them for a several projects they are leading with our LightHouse youth teaching them healthy habits, babysitting skills and life skills for young women.

Beacon of Hope Award: The David and Peggy Murphy family

This couple understands many children don’t have the finances to pursue dreams and may not have a parent reminding them of the possibilities. Through their support of the LightHouse, they ensure children have a place to dream. Additionally, Peggy has coached our graduates and reminded them they have lots of people in their corner. And they have also passed on their passion for education and service to their children. Their daughter, Carolyn, now volunteers two days a week at the Highland LightHouse, where she has become indispensable.

Humanitarian Award: Brammer Engineering and Keith and Karen Evans

Brammer Engineering proudly displays its motto of “Service. Service. Service.” They have regularly proven that idea extends far beyond customers. Last spring Brammer offered eight employees a chance to spend an hour of their workday once a week tutoring LightHouse children. The employees were paired with children and they did homework, read books and played games. The children had a new role model and the employees left feeling like they had gained far more than what they gave. The Brammer model continues this year with 10 employees helping children prepare for the LEAP test. “It’s been an honor to be associated with The LightHouse,” said Ellen Alley, director of human resources for Brammer. “We have been blessed.”

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