2021 Virtual Volunteer Awards Ceremony Recap

United Way’s Volunteer Awards Ceremony, via Facebook Live, was about celebrating our incredible volunteers! United Way honors volunteers in Whitfield and Murray Counties whose service has exemplified a commitment to bring hope, promise, and opportunity to the lives of others. Stuart Nelson, Volunteer Center Chair, along with Patti Renz, Community Co-Chair, led the Volunteer Awards Ceremony.


Volunteer Award Winners:

Jim Shaheen serves as a Scoutmaster for Troop 2, Council Officer, he is a part of the Properties Committee, and Alumni Association Board through United Way Community Partner, Boy Scouts NW GA Council. He has volunteered over 1,183 hours of service and has gone above and beyond what the agency asks of him. Jim's impact is transformational. He serves every day to make Scouting better in Whitfield County and across Northwest GA. Because of his dedication and commitment to his community, we present Jim Shaheen with the Connie Woodward Award for Outstanding Volunteerism in Whitfield County.

Inez Cannon has been a CASA volunteer at Family Support Council since November 2018. She has served as an advocate for four local children living in foster care within Whitfield and Murray Counties. Inez works tirelessly to support the children and all parties involved in her cases. Because of her commitment to volunteering and her true example of servant leadership, we present Inez Cannon with the Elaine Butler Award for Outstanding Volunteerism in Murray County.


In honor of the legacy of Elbert Shaw’s commitment to volunteer service and youth development, Shaw Industries annually partners with United Way of Northwest Georgia to offer two $5,000 scholarships for high school students. The Elbert Shaw Memorial Scholarship seeks to recognize young people who are active, empowered members of our community. The award recipients will be youth who work in cooperation with their peers and community leaders to create positive change in society, including identifying problems and implementing solutions. Tim Baucom, John Shaw, and Stuart Nelson presented the scholarships to Emma Ferguson and Jacob Poag. Emma also received the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award. 

Jacob Poag is a Junior at Christian Heritage High School. Jacob created S.T.E.P. Studio Inc. at the age of 16. S.T.E.P. Studio Inc. is a non-profit organization created by students to give high school and college students the opportunity to work in film. S.T.E.P. Studio has provided United Way of Northwest Georgia with Career Exploration videos to show the youth of Whitfield and Murray Counties different career opportunities. Jacob has served on campaign staff for eight different candidates, ranging from small local elections to presidential campaigns. One of Jacob’s proudest achievements was directing a team of 30 assistants as they were tasked with putting together a Presidential rally with a 48 hours’ notice. Jacob helps coach the Varsity football Special Teams for Christian Heritage High School. In 2021 alone, he collected over 850+ volunteer hours, displaying his dedication to the community. Jacob is looking into several Universities that he wants to attend, his top two are Georgetown University and George Washington University. His intended college major is Political Science with a minor in Foreign Diplomacy. Because of his commitment to creating a better future through volunteerism, Jacob Poag receives the Elbert Shaw Memorial Scholarship.

Emma Ferguson is a senior at Dalton High School. She is the Executive Secretary of Dalton High School's Student Council, and with that role, she oversees philanthropy projects. The main philanthropic project is a canned food drive called "Cats Care Food Drive". This year alone Dalton High brought in over 11,000 cans, providing meals to over 9,000 people in the Dalton area. She has volunteered at the Humane Society of Northwest Georgia for three years, the Dance Theater of Dalton, United Way of Northwest Georgia, Dalton High School's Interact Club, and Dalton High School's Student Council. In 2021 alone, she collected over 250 volunteer hours, displaying her dedication to her community. Even with COVID-19, during her high school career Emma volunteered over 500 hours and received the President’s Volunteer Service Award every year. Emma is going to continue her education at the Georgia Institute of Technology and plans to major in Biomedical Engineering. Because of her dedication and commitment to her community, Emma Ferguson receives the Elbert Shaw Memorial Scholarship and the award for Youth Volunteer of the Year.

The Presidential Service Award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action. This Spring, the United Way Volunteer Center Cabinet will present 48 Presidential Volunteer Service Awards to students at their school awards banquets. Any individual, family, or group can receive Presidential recognition for volunteer hours earned over a 12-month period or over the course of a lifetime at home or abroad. The minimum hour requirement for a Presidential Volunteer Service Award are Kids (5-10): 26 hours, Teens (11-15): 50 hours, Young Adults (16-25): 100 hours.

If you’re interested in volunteering with United Way of Northwest Georgia, please visit volunteernwga.org or contact Stephanie Hogshead at stephanie.hogshead@ourunitedway.org.


Visit ourunitedway.org to learn how to Give, Advocate, and Volunteer and to view United Way’s full impact on our local community! Follow United Way on social:  @unitedwaynwga.