United Way Youth and Volunteer Awards Celebration

United Way of Northwest Georgia’s Youth and Volunteer Celebration was held on Thursday, April 25, at Mack Gaston Community Center. It was a night to remember! We are grateful for our sponsors: Sandee Hooper, Mannington Phenix, Mohawk Industries, & Shaw Industries. 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.


Elaine Butler Award

Because of Wesley Barrell’s dedication and commitment to his community, Stephanie Skojac and Carlene Mutter presented Wesley Barrell with the Elaine Butler Award for Outstanding Volunteerism in Murray County. Wesley Barrell gave over 200 hours to make Murray County a better place! He is a 4-H Program Development team member and chaperoned the 1-week trip to Cloverleaf Camp at Rock Eagle 4-H Center. Wesley has spent numerous hours organizing, planning, and executing a men’s group through Rock Bridge Community Church. He feels passionate about Rebuilding Hope and has dedicated his time and resources to connecting with the community to promote and help support this wonderful organization. All the youth participating in Murray County 4-H activities benefit from Wesley’s work as a volunteer. The kids love “Mr. Wez” and the excitement he brings to 4-H. He has not lived here long but has already made an enormous impact, which is one of the things that keeps the kids coming back. He strives to see the potential in our 4-H’ers and truly wants “To Make the Best Better.”


Connie Woodward Award

Because of Clyde Taylor’s commitment to volunteering and his true example of servant leadership, Meghan Corvin and George Woodward presented Clyde Taylor with the Connie Woodward Award for Outstanding Volunteerism in Whitfield County. Mr. Clyde volunteered 120 hours in 2023! Mr. Clyde is a retired 4-H Agent for Whitfield County. Every year since his retirement in 2009, he has volunteered as an adult male leader for 4-H Cloverleaf Camp. As an adult leader, he stays in a cabin with 20 young male 4th-6th graders for the week, managing every aspect. In addition to camp, he served as a judge for the Junior and Senior Project Achievement participants to listen to their speeches, prepare for questions, and offer suggestions for the contest. Mr. Clyde is also a Dalton Noon Lions Club member, which co-sponsors the Dalton Christmas Parade. He helps with its preparation, organization, and set-up. Mr. Clyde's volunteer work benefits all the youth participating in Whitfield County 4-H activities. He has done this every year since 2009, so his impact is far-reaching. He has a wealth of wisdom to share with 4-H’ers. Additionally, Mr. Clyde is a mentor for the staff at Whitfield County 4-H and other regional agents. Mr. Clyde's impact is transformational.


Elbert Shaw Memorial Scholarships

In honor of Elbert Shaw’s legacy of 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 community members. The award recipients will be youth who cooperate with their peers and community leaders to create positive societal change, including identifying problems and implementing solutions. Amy Bradford and Emily Sane presented the scholarships to Brayden Perry and Meredith Anne Phillips.

Brayden is a senior at Christian Heritage School. His passion for improving lives has led him to devote most of his time to volunteering. Since starting high school, Brayden has served with the City of Refuge, where he delivered food to their residents, sorted and organized their food pantries, served at their banquets, and much more. He has been on the United Way Youth United Council since the beginning and helped some even before it was formed. Brayden is very proud of the Daddy-Daughter Dance he brought to the CHS community to raise money for designated nonprofit organizations. Because of Brayden’s work and volunteerism, so many have benefited throughout our community! Hundreds of families and individuals will not have to worry about their next meal because of his volunteerism through the City of Refuge and the Knox Area Rescue Ministries. He has worked with the Books for Africa and Operation Christmas Child programs. As you can see, Brayden has made an enormous impact from his volunteer efforts! In 2023, he collected 207 volunteer hours, displaying his dedication to the community. Brayden is continuing his education at Vanderbilt University, where he plans to major in Neuroscience/Behavioral Biology.


Meredith Anne is a senior at North Murray High School. Meredith Anne’s passion for improving lives has led her to devote much of her time to volunteering. She has been on the United Way Youth United Council for one year. Over the years, Meredith Anne has been involved in community Christmas through her school, church, and 4-H. After the tornados came through in 2020, she helped with community relief. She has volunteered with the City of Refuge at The Whitfield Commons. She has also served with the North Murray High School student council, her church camps and events, Miracle League, SkillsUSA, and FCCLA. Meredith Anne’s work and volunteerism have benefited so many in our community! Specifically those living at Whitfield Commons. Since middle school, Meredith Anne has also been involved with the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society. She has helped with and led cleanups at the Chief Vann House and Wright Hotel through the years. She has taught community members and students about our local history, how to preserve it, and why it is so important. She’s proud that she has impacted her community through the Whitfield-Murray Historical Society. In 2023, she collected 294 volunteer hours, demonstrating her dedication to the community. Meredith Anne is continuing her education at the University of Georgia, where she plans to major in pharmaceutical science.


Youth Volunteer of the Year

Each year, United Way recognizes a youth member taking action to make our community a better place to live and demonstrates a commitment to United Way’s mission through exceptional volunteer efforts. United Way’s Volunteer Center Cabinet Chair, Marianne Murry, presented the Youth Volunteer of the Year Award to Rahlyn Green. Rahlyn is a senior at Dalton High School. She has the drive and passion to help others. She truly has a servant's heart. Over the years, Rahlyn has volunteered with United Way of Northwest Georgia, RossWoods Adult Day Services, Miracle Field, Friendship House, Boys and Girls Club, City of Refuge, and Rock Bridge Community Church for Vacation Bible School. Rahlyn is an active member of United Way’s Youth United Council. She has volunteered at numerous Youth United projects. She has never turned down the opportunity for leadership roles at events or volunteer projects. She shares opportunities with her peers and always shows up with a great attitude, ready to learn and serve. Rahlyn is self-motivated and an example of putting others before herself. She will do great things because of her drive and passion to help others and make an impact. Rahlyn is continuing her education at the University of North Georgia.


Amanda Burt and Hayley Poillucci presented our 22 United Way Youth United Council Members with their certificates and graduation cords. The Youth United Council is a leadership program of the United Way of Northwest Georgia, with programming provided by The University of Georgia’s J.W. Fanning Institute for Leadership Development, “Youth Leadership in Action.” The goal is to build individual leadership skills, foster positive group dynamics, and increase civic and community involvement. The curriculum concentrates on youth development and leadership, two critical principles for successfully transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.

Youth United Council

2023-2024 Youth United Council Members: Esme Alegria, Dalton High School; Olivia Beavers, Christian Heritage School; Kate Brock, Northwest Whitfield High School; Eli Burt, Dalton High School; Rahlyn Green, Dalton High School; Maryam Hany Arafat, Dalton High School; Addison Hester, Dalton High School; Lanier Land, Dalton High School; Ledge Land, Dalton High School; Brisa Lopez, Dalton High School; Michael Nguyen, Dalton High School; Brayden Perry, Christian Heritage School; Bannon Phelan, Dalton High School; Meredith Anne Phillips, North Murray High School; Sandra Ramirez Martinez, Coahulla Creek High School; Patricia Ridley, Northwest Whitfield High School; Lena Riggle, Dalton High School; Mariana Salazar, Coahulla Creek High School; Cooper Sanderson, Dalton High School; Alyssa Velasquez, Dalton High School; Isa Wan, Dalton High School; Molly Watts, Dalton High School


The Presidential Volunteer Service Award honors individuals whose service positively impacts communities in every corner of the nation and inspires those around them to take action. The United Way Volunteer Center Cabinet will present 45 Presidential Volunteer Service Awards to students at their school awards banquets this spring. That equals over 7,123 volunteer hours!! Any individual, family, or group can receive Presidential recognition for volunteer hours earned over a 12-month period or 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.

United Way of Northwest Georgia's Volunteer Center Cabinet (VCC) assists in fulfilling corporate and community needs by mobilizing volunteers, developing leadership, and recognizing volunteers in our focus areas of education, basic needs, and health. Special thank you to our VCC for all their hard work!2024 VCC Members: Marianne Murry, Chair, Engineered Floors; Brandy Boling, Dalton Utilities/OptiLink; Sandee Hooper, Community Volunteer; Patti Renz, WLC Liaison; Amy Bradford, Shaw Industries; Amy Hartline, Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful; Andrea Lanier, Mannington Phenix; Caitlin Sharpe, Dalton Parks and Recreation; Emily Sane, Shaw Industries; Jamie Jones, Engineered Floors; Jennifer Phinney, Georgia Department of Education; Jonathan Sierra, Shaw Industries; Justin Hicks, Mohawk Industries; Paige Brown, Marketing Alliance Group; Stuart Nelson, Marketing Alliance Group


If you want to volunteer with United Way of Northwest Georgia, please visit volunteernwga.org or contact Hayley Poillucci at hayley.poillucci@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

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