It has been quite a year for volunteering in our community. We take a look back at those we honored this year in our Eleven Who Care series.
You might remember Milton Moore, the former college and semi pro basketball player who now spends his time teaching the fundamentals to a younger generation. The sport draws the youth to his Hoops for Jesus basketball tournament, but the fundamentals they learn also include respect and hard work.
Then there was Debby Young, who is busy with a family and full time job but somehow still finds time to volunteer for many United Way agencies. She says her faith is what motivates her.
"I can pray for you, but if I don't get you something to eat, and I don't get you a place to stay, are you really going to listen to me, or not?" said Debby Young. "And that's what Jesus did. He walked around helping people, and healing people. That's our job."
Or how about Jennifer Wolfe? She started volunteering at Meridian's Carver Middle School to help her son's reading skills, but ended up improving the test scores of more than fifty students.
Lavonne Hardee of Newton amazed us by still reporting for volunteer work everyday, even though she's in her 80's; whether it's at the hospital, her church or the Chamber of Commerce. Her friends call her the Energizer bunny.
We caught up with Don and Joann Wheeler on a very hot summer day. The temperatures soared, but that didn't stop the couple from the regular run of delivering thirty two Meals on Wheels to those in need. It's just one of too many volunteer jobs to count for the two who are in their late seventies.
More than fifty years their junior is Miguel Gardinez. He is the youngest volunteer firefighter in Butler, Alabama, who helped battle the blaze that destroyed much of his school.
"It's a pleasure to help people. It's what I like to do, help people," said Miguel Gardinez.
Peggy Coleman, who didn't like to cook, shocked her friends by starting Feed by Faith in Meridian six years ago. She now cooks for hundreds each week.
"It's a mission close to my heart. It's a mission that God put close to my heart," said Peggy Coleman.
Although Linda Farmer would normally describe herself as relatively quiet, helping those fighting breast cancer is something she's quite passionate and vocal about. So much so, she founded the Carousel Breast Cancer support group in Meridian.
Olive Meaders may be 90 years young, but her friends say her community would have suffered if she didn't give her whole heart, time and talents to volunteering for decades.
If you put all the work hours together of those who give through the Meridian RSVP Agency, no one could afford the paycheck. The community is incredibly richer because of the efforts of those like John Flowers, Sandra McMullen and Rose Ellen Reid.
We were happy to introduce you to these extraordinary individuals in 2013, and spotlight those who normally are working hard as volunteers behind the scenes. We look forward to meeting more of your wonderful neighbors in 2014.