The three-Billy Clark, Ricky Graham, and the late Richard Thomas Cox-were presented the awards by Faye Stone, a deputy executive director of the North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service. She was representing Governor Mike Easley at the ceremony.
In a statement, Easley, who could not attend the ceremony, said "Volunteering is an investment in our community that yields immeasurable benefits not just for those receiving the services but for the volunteer as well. It offers an opportunity for people to help others and to make a difference in their community."
According to information submitted with the nomination, Clark has helped citizens of Bladen County for years working as a volunteer. He has served as Assistant Fire Chief of the Clarkton Fire Department, Chief of the Clarkton Rescue Squad, President of the Clarkton Lions Club, and he worked to save a landmark church in his community.
Additionally, he has held classes in fire safety, raised funds to provide research for the blind and improved the care given to the sick and injured through training sessions for emergency medical technicians.
Cox, who died on May 25, was described by many who knew him as the "heart" of the Clarkton Lions Club. Holding every leadership position available, he served 54 years in the club leading others to keep fundraisers going, events continued, and time honored traditions on track.
He was an active member of Clarkton Presbyterian Church for 49 years. As an elder in his church, Cox served in many capacities over the years. He was a charter member of the Bladen County Agriculture and Business Expo Committee.
Cox was also a charter member of the Bladen County Committee of 100.
In his nomination, the author stated: "Mr. Cox has touches many lives in Bladen County with his willingness to serve his fellow man with the utmost dignity."
Graham's nomination stated that he is "a highly committed, strong advocate of the youth of Bladen County. He has worked with students in grades three through eight encouraging them in school performance and attitude toward school.
"As a professional counselor and youth minister, Mr. Graham has made a tremendous difference in the lives of youth in Bladen County," the nomination summarized.
The North Carolina Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service was first awarded in 1979. It honors individuals, groups, and businesses "who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by making a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service."