The Twelfth Annual Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards ceremony will honor volunteers from 69 counties in Franklin on Feb. 9.

The awards will celebrate the efforts of 115 volunteers statewide who have strived to improve their communities through service. Two residents of McMinn County will be honored during the ceremony.

Miss Tennessee Volunteer 2019 Kerri Arnold will present the awards and NewsChannel5 weekend anchor, Jennifer Kraus, will serve as emcee for the event.

One youth and one adult volunteer were selected from participating counties to receive this award. Nominees were judged based on the community’s need of the volunteer service performed, initiative taken to perform the service, creativity used to solve a community problem and impact of the volunteer service on the community.

The individual awards are sponsored by Community Care of Rutherford County and Tennessee 4-H.

Jennifer Waller was named the Monroe County Adult Honoree.

According to the announcement, Waller “has dedicated many years to enriching the lives of others. She has implemented co-ops and vocational programs for people trying to integrate into the local community. She has developed cultural orientation programs for corporate employees and study abroad and home stay programs between Japan and the United States. She has served with the Ft. Loudon State Historic Site, Sweetwater Tree Board, the Marcella Center of Sweetwater, and the Cora Veal Senior Center (where she is vice-chair) for the last 13 years. Jennifer has brought Tai Chi for Arthritis, Stay Active and Independent for Life (SAIL), and Yoga to both the Cora Veal Senior Center and the Marcella Center of Sweetwater. She works tirelessly on grant projects to sustain these and other programs, many of which serve those who are disenfranchised and alone. Jennifer is unwavering and unfading in her great passion to help others.”

Katherine Gates was named the Monroe County Youth Honoree.

Gates is wrapping up her year of service with CAC AmeriCorps where she is serving with the Tellico Ranger District of the US Forest Service in Cherokee National Forest. AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs, made up of three primary programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement.

Gates’ service this past year included performing trail assessments and leading other conservation teams. Her leadership and ability to collaborate with other conservation teams to make improvements is laying the groundwork for Cherokee National Forest’s efforts to develop a baseline understanding of the condition of their trail infrastructure.

“Each year, 1.6 million Tennessee volunteers give more than 137 million hours of service, contributing the equivalent of $3.3 billion to Tennessee’s economy. They are the backbone of our great state and, by giving of their time and talents to fulfill needs that would otherwise go unmet, they truly embody the spirit of giving,” said Volunteer Tennessee Executive Director Jim Snell.

Volunteer Tennessee coordinates the Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards at the state level. Volunteer Tennessee is the 25 member, bipartisan citizen board appointed by the Governor to oversee AmeriCorps and service-learning programs and to advance volunteerism and citizen service to solve community problems in the Volunteer State.

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