By Jessica Farrish
A Beckley bank president and a local food kitchen are among those who will be honored by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin as leaders in the state for the spirit of generous service they embody.
Nancy Kissinger, president of Chase Bank in Beckley, and the food ministry Carpenter’s Corner, which operates at First Christian Church in uptown Beckley, are recipients of the Governor’s Service Awards for 2013 and will be honored at a special banquet in Charleston in August.
The banquet is held as a part of Faces of Leadership, the annual state volunteerism conference.
Presented since 1995, the Governor’s Service Awards honor individuals, families and organizations that exemplify outstanding dedication to volunteerism and community service in West Virginia.
Kissinger is one of two recipients in the Adult category in the state and The Carpenter’s Corner receives its award in the “Organization” category.
Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial Group in Boone County and Alderson Ministerial Association in Greenbrier County will receive awards in the “Organization” category, and Gloria Martin of Greenbrier County is honored in the “Senior” category. Pamela and James McPeak of Monroe County will be recognized in the “Family” division.
- - -
Carpenter’s Corner was born when a downtown Beckley food kitchen ceased operation in 2004.
Starting from nothing, a group of committed people secured space at First Christian Church and began by serving desserts and beverages.
The Carpenter’s Corner was dedicated in September 2005 and now serves approximately 100 lunches five days each week.
Volunteers from 13 churches initially joined together to prepare the facility and secure funding and donations. The organization now involves the cooperation of 20 local faith communities. Members of each church prepare and serve one lunch per month, cleaning up for the next group. Many businesses have also contributed to the on-going success of The Carpenters Corner, donating equipment, services and food.
“This all-volunteer group is a well-oiled machine,” said Father Samuel Haddad of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church. “They are highly organized and have a well-thought-out plan.
“They meet a real need in the Beckley community and have inspired others.”
Jim Trader, president of Carpenter’s Corner, said he feels greatly honored that Carpenter’s Corner was chosen for the award.
He said volunteers run the denominational gamut from fundamentalist to very liberal.
“It’s not just people that are hungry (who are served),” said Trader. “There are people that need fellowship, to be with people, and it meets that loneliness need as well as feeding the physical need.
“It’s just that spiritual need all of us have,” said Trader. “It’s really a miracle that occurs in Beckley, to have people volunteer to work this closely together and serve, touching lives every day, and I think that’s what we’re commissioned by our Lord to do.”
- - -
Nancy Kissinger’s volunteer service extends from serving on multiple community and state boards to working concession stands at Biddy Buddy basketball tournaments and YMCA swim meets.
She received the YMCA of Southern West Virginia’s Spirit of Beckley Award in December 2012.
“Whenever anything needs to be done, Nancy is there,” said Beckley Mayor Emmett Pugh. “She is a tremendous asset to Beckley and the whole state.”
Currently Kissinger serves with the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, Raleigh General Hospital and the YMCA where she has coached youth soccer.
Kissinger has chaired the campaign drives for the United Way of Southern West Virginia, the Beckley Area Foundation and Project Graduation at Woodrow Wilson High School. Her community service for youth in the area also extends to working with the West Virginia Rapids Soccer Club, First Tee of West Virginia, the West Virginia Soccer Association, and on the steering committee for the state high school soccer tournament.
“Nancy is an individual who has selflessly worked to enrich Beckley, Raleigh County and indeed the whole state,” said Delegate Linda Sumner, R-Raleigh, who nominated Kissinger for the award.
Kissinger said she was honored to learn from Sumner a couple weeks ago that her volunteerism had been recognized by the governor.
She explained that she volunteers because she believes it’s important to make the place where she lives and is raising a family the best that it can possibly be.
Kissinger said she hopes her volunteer efforts make the city better for residents and even more appealing to those who may be considering a move to Beckley.
“I think we have a wonderful state and a wonderful community,” she said.
Kissinger encourages others to become volunteers.
“What you give in volunteering, you get back so much more,” she added.
- - -
The Upper Big Branch Mining Memorial Group in Boone County unveiled the UBB Miners Monument in Whitesville last July, honoring the 29 men who lost their lives in the April 5, 2010, mine explosion.
Designer Rob Dinsmore said the goal of the monument is to keep alive the memory of those who died.
“This is an opportunity to learn about the rich heritage of the coal industry in West Virginia and an opportunity to celebrate this great state, its beauty and to those who call it home,” Dinsmore said when the monument was unveiled. “And it’s an opportunity to remember, to remember the 29 men we lost in April 2010.”
The group is currently planning a new riverfront park, The Coal Heritage RiverWalk, at the former site of a public pool in Whitesville near the UBB Miners’ Memorial.
Tomblin acknowledged the group’s dedication to educating and enriching Whitesville and the state.
Mike Gwinn, vice-president of the group, said the UBB Memorial Group was “thrilled” with the news of the award.
“We worked hard,” he said. “It’s another opportunity we appreciate, but it still is not about us. It’s about the miners,” he said. “There wasn’t a day that any of us ever grumbled that we had to work on the memorial.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the memorial and to honor those guys that were killed. That’s the most important part.”
- - -
In Greenbrier County, the Alderson Ministerial Association, a non-profit ecumenical ministry, operates a Thrift Store, a Food Pantry, Benevolence Assistance, work projects, and ecumenical services/fellowships during Thanksgiving, Advent and Lent.
Freddie Greenlief, who nominated the AMA, worked with the group to build a new, handicapped-accessible home for the family of a young woman with severe disabilities. The project was known as Amy’s House.
“I was just blown out of the water by the work the association did,” said Greenlief. “They bring together volunteers with skills to get the work done and get the materials donated.
“They bring everything together in a quality way.”
Greenlief said it was a “no-brainer” for him to nominate the AMA for the Governor’s Service Award.
“They don’t toot their own horn,” said Greenlief. “They do the Lord’s work in a quiet way.”
- - -
Greenbrier County senior citizen Gloria Martin of Lewisburg will be honored for her work with the Family Refuge Center in Lewisburg.
Bill Turner, executive director of the Center, nominated Martin for the award.
“Gloria is most deserving of this award because she tirelessly volunteers on behalf of Family Refuge Center and many other community organizations,” said Turner. “Even in times of personal hardship, she is just always there, doing what needs to be done.
“She truly lives her Catholic service ethic."
For tickets to the awards banquet, scheduled Aug. 7 at the Charleston Civic Center, or for information about the conference, contact Moya Doneghy at 304-558-0111 or 1-800-WV-HELPS, or by e-mail at moya.doneghy @wv.gov.
Other recipients of the 2013 Governor’s Service Awards include, by category:
-- Lifetime Achievement: Delbert “Duke” Horstemeyer, Hancock County; Ruth Thayer, Wayne County
-- Youth: Tiffani Webb, Cabell County
-- Adult: Thomas McChesney, Cabell County;
-- Senior: Larry Rogers, Logan County
-- National Service: Colleen Barnhart, Pleasants County
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org