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Volunteers of the Year: Thrive, United Way, Habitat, Friends of the Library


What do you do in your volunteer job?

After serving for nine years on the Board of Thrive, I most recently co-chaired Thrive’s Bids and Blues Event, their largest fundraiser of the year. During my 11 years of service my work focused primarily on board development and improving fund raising results for the organization.

How long have you been volunteering?

Most of my adult life (age 82). First and foremost I am an ordained elder and deacon in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and have served on and led many committees, including stewardship and capital fund raising, finance, and mission activities. Currently I am a member of the Board at Carolina Village. Previously I have served on the Board of the Blue Ridge Community College Educational Foundation (6 years), the Board (Chair) of the Governor Morehead Foundation serving the School for the Blind in Raleigh (6 years); a North Carolina member the IRS’s national Taxpayer Advocacy Panel(4 years); a founder, board member and past president of the local alumni association of The Ohio State University; and several other non-profit organizations. In addition to a corporate career I also served as president, CEO, and on the board of Guide Dogs for the Blind, San Rafael, California, one of the largest non-profits in the San Francisco Bay Area and the largest guide dog school in North America.

Why do you volunteer?

I have been blessed in so many ways throughout my life and have always had a sense or need to pay back for those blessings. You could call it paying rent for living in this wonderful world. And, I really do believe that one individual can help to change the lives of others in a positive way.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

You can work in areas where you have passion. Volunteering costs nothing and provides steady payback.

If someone is interested in volunteering, what is the best advice you would give based on your own experience?

The fabric of our society is bound together by the collective efforts of the non-profit community. Many non-profits could not fulfill their missions without good volunteers. Identify your interests or passions. Call the organizations in your field of interest and indicate your willingness to volunteer. You will be wanted and needed.


ERNEST HUMPHRIES, United Way Henderson County


What do you do in your volunteer job?

I am currently vice chair of the Board of Directors for the United Way of Henderson County. I am a member of the Executive Committee and I have served on the Basic Needs and Crisis Services Program Evaluation Panel during my board membership.

How long have you been volunteering?

3 years

Why do you volunteer?

I have been very fortunate and I want to help others achieve their dreams. Giving back is something I was taught at a very young age. “To whom much is given, much is required.”

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

Seeing how thankful program participants are for the assistance they are receiving is humbling and gratifying at the same time.

If someone is interested in volunteering, what is the best advice you would give based on your own experience?

The best advice I can give would be to participate in issues or causes you feel passionate about. You will commit your time, resources and voice to what is important to you.


PAUL RICHARDS, Henderson County Habitat for Humanity

What do you do in your volunteer job?

I work on two core crews for Henderson County Habitat for Humanity. On Wednesday, our crew does wall layout in preparation for building the walls for a house. These walls will be built in sections in the Habitat Warehouse at a later date and shipped to the jobsite on a trailer to be erected. On Friday, our crew installs all the electrical systems in the houses being erected. I have also been supporting creation of the drawings for the houses built by Henderson Habitat.

How long have you been volunteering?

I have been volunteering for Henderson County Habitat for two years.

Why do you volunteer?

I want to be the “hands of Jesus” and serve others. I have been blessed with gifts and talents that align well with the needs of Habitat for Humanity. Having worked most of my life in jobs using my mind, I now have the opportunity to help others using my hands, which I am very much enjoying.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

There are three “best” things about volunteering with Habitat.
• Working with future homeowners who are very excited about their futures.
• Working with other passionate volunteers who really care about building a quality house.
• Working with fantastic staff members at Henderson County Habitat for Humanity.

If someone is interested in volunteering, what is the best advice you would give based on your own experience?

There are so many needs in our community, and such a need for volunteers. There are so many different areas of opportunity to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. If you don’t find a good fit with Habitat, then look for volunteering opportunities somewhere else. You will find volunteering to be a very rewarding experience.


Carla Thompson, Friends of the Henderson County Public Library

Why is there a Friends of the Library?

Just like all government agencies, the library’s budget is limited. They can’t do everything they want. That’s why we play such an important role in the community by helping to support all six of the library’s branches in Henderson County.
Between January and September of this year, the Friends sponsored 128 programs and purchased 1,000 books. We also bought tablets, AV items, materials for the Craft Club, and furniture and equipment such as chairs, security cameras, and shelf units.

How large an organization is the Friends?

We currently have 1,468 members. With 400 new members in 2019, we have increased our total membership by 39 percent compared to last year.

How do you get enough money to provide all that support to the library?

We raise about $100,000 a year primarily through our May and September book sales. Our 100 dedicated volunteers work year-round processing donated books and other materials and then help at the book sales. Without our volunteers, there would be no Friends of the Library.

With all the non-profit organizations competing for volunteers, why should someone give their time to the Friends of the Library?

Our volunteers believe that an educated and prosperous community needs an excellent library system. They recognize that the Henderson County library branches provide essential services to their communities, and they want to support that effort.

What kind of volunteer positions are available?

We need to fill some “management” positions such as Volunteer Coordinator, Membership Chair, and Book Sale Chair. We also need many volunteers to process books, help during the book sales, and perform other functions.

What should people do if they are interested in joining the Friends or volunteering?

They should begin by going to our website: At the website, click on “Volunteers” and fill out the online message form or send an e-mail directly to: They should also see our video that provides more information about the Friends. The link is on our home page.