Volunteers honored for service

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

BOLIVIA—Volunteering is more than one hour here and another hour there. It’s a full-time occupation.

That’s how Jayne Mathews, director of Brunswick County Volunteer Center, described the dedication of volunteers who were honored Monday afternoon for their service to the county.

Each a champion for their own causes, five individuals and one volunteer fire department were honored for volunteerism and dedication. All recipients of the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service were first nominated before being selected and scored by a committee.

Susan Sturgill, who received the highest score, is now eligible for The N.C. Medallion Award, which is awarded to 20 volunteers from across the state.

Sturgill was honored for her work with Relay for Life, for which, “she has been the moving force behind,” Mathews said.

For 10 years, Sturgill has worked with Relay, raising $29,000 her first year to almost $400,000 last year. Mathews described Sturgill as an “inspiration and motivation to survivors, their family and friends.”

Margarete O’Leary was honored for her work as president of the Brunswick Animal League.

Mathews described O’Leary as the president of the animal league and the organization’s backbone—fundraising and writing grants, newsletters and vet certificates—to fight for the rights and welfare of all animals in the county.

The Rev. Ronald Smith of Love of Christ Church in Bolivia has been delivering a truckload of snacks to students at Bolivia Elementary School every month for the past three years.

Mathews described Smith as “a very unassuming man,” whose actions are “his gift and his church’s gift to the kids of Bolivia Elementary School.”

For more than seven years, Charles Giordano and Jim Scharenbrock of St. Brendan Catholic Church have nurtured thousands of seeds, which grow into thousands of plants, which they sell for a fundraiser.

Since beginning their project, the duo as raised more than $50,000 for community organizations like Hope Harbor home, Habitat for Humanity, Brunswick Family Assistance and local food pantries.

Mathews praised their efforts and dedication to continuing their cause, and to fundraising for local nonprofit organizations.

With an average age of 64 years old, volunteers with the St. James Fire Department make up the oldest fire department in the state. But don’t let their ages fool you.

“They’re out there everyday,” Mathews praised.

With 72 active firefighters and 29 EMS personnel, the volunteer organization includes firefighters, EMS, fire police and a fire auxiliary to raise money and provide support and maintenance.