Several years ago, Volunteer Tennessee initiated the Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards, a recognition program designed to recognize the outstanding service of those who volunteer in various ways throughout their local Tennessee communities. This year, two award recipients, one youth and one adult in each county will be recognized in Franklin by Governor Bill Haslam. This celebration will illustrate the importance of civic participation and service to improve overall community norms.
“The event was developed to recognize the unsung heroes from across the Great State of Tennessee. This state has a longtime legacy of service, named “The Volunteer State” almost 200 years ago. These volunteers play a critical role in the success of Tennessee communities across the state,” said Grundy County Mayor Michael Brady. “Through nonprofit organizations, national service programs, faith-based organizations, and neighbor-helping-neighbor, outstanding volunteer service is part of our state heritage. In fact, the annual value of Tennessee volunteers is $3.4 billion.
“The Grundy County Mayors Office is happy to help organize and promote volunteerism in Grundy County, while recognizing the efforts of those who go above and beyond the call of duty every day by making a difference in the lives of others.”
He has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to serving others in a variety of ways. It was stated that when you hear the old gospel song, ‘If I Can Help Somebody,’ he is the embodiment of that song. First and foremost, he is a volunteer through and through. When presented with the opportunity to live in San Antonio or Tennessee after finishing the Army, he always said Tennessee was his home and he had to get back there. More specifically, he loves Grundy County with a deep passion. He taught elementary and high school in the county for more than 30 years, coaching football and basketball.
“He is also a preacher that has shared the gospel with many, shared in celebrations and supported those sick and suffering, and is known to officiate beautiful touching services sharing personal details at memorial services that mean so much to the families.
“He currently volunteers in a variety of ways, but he doesn’t call it volunteering. He just looks for opportunities to help in whatever way he can. That includes taking plates of food to people who are sick, who are not able to get out or do not have family checking on them. At family gatherings, his family is very accustom to making plates to deliver from their table to those in need. He has organized, advertised, and helped host numerous fundraisers for people and projects in the community.
“He is a Korean War veteran and very active in Veterans Services in the county, helping to organize and participating in various events to recognize and honor those who have served, whether luncheons, television programs, or funeral and memorial services with proper honors. He goes to schools to speak whenever asked. He serves on the Grundy County High School Sports Hall of Fame board. He is the on-site coordinator for the Creighton Christmas Express that last year distributed over 800 bags of gifts to those in need in Coalmont.
“When asked what he was doing with that and the massive effort that it takes to pull it off, he said just knowing that he made some small difference in another person’s life makes it all worthwhile. It is difficult to quantify all that he has done, because he does it quietly without making a big deal about it. Ray Winton has been a role model for many in showing us how to make the most of the blessings that we have been given and volunteering our time and resources to make a difference in the community and world.”
The 2015 Governor’s Volunteer Stars Award Honoree in the youth category is Chynna Fults of Gruetli-Laager. Chynna is the daughter of Tonya Burnett and her grandmother is Freda Burnett. Her nomination reads in part:
Chynna has served as president of the Grundy County High School Marching Band and is currently serving as Field Commander. Her band director has said about Chynna that out of all the students that he has taught, she is the best leader and has the most common sense. These characteristics of Chynna are true no matter what she is doing.
“She received a scholarship from Farm Bureau Women to the National Leadership Forum held at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. She was one of the 50 delegates selected from Tennessee out of 95 counties to attend this weeklong training. She was also sponsored by Farm Bureau Women to attend the Tennessee Young Leaders Conference for YF&R. She has served as secretary and president of the Grundy Chapter of FFA and competed in the Agriscience fair at the Tennessee FFA Convention, where she placed fifth in her category. She also was selected to attend the National FFA Convention in Louisville, Kentucky. She has been a top fundraiser for all FFA events. She was awarded the Outstanding FFA member Award by the Ag Business Council.
“In church and community activities, Chynna has participated in her church’s live Nativity scene. She has also helped with the Mountain TOP organization’s fall distribution of shoes by helping to fit the shoes to children and adults. She has helped at the Grundy County Food Bank by stocking shelves and helping distribute food to the clients. She helped organize and direct other students for a Cattlemen’s Field Day provided by the UT Extension Service. Chynna also serves as Vice President of the Grundy Young Farmers and Ranchers organization. She is establishing a registered Boer goatherd, and is planning to major in agriculture when she goes to college. She has worked as a volunteer at the Grundy County Annual Farm Day for third grade students for the past three years. She has been recognized with many awards for her work in agricultural education.”
Mayor Brady has invited these honorees and all of the individuals that were nominated to the January 25, County Commission meeting for special recognition. Brady stated that he is truly thankful and appreciative for these individuals that always go above and beyond in order to help others in need.