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Hero Awards recognize local volunteers

Tuesday, April 12, 2011 | 8:23 p.m. CDT; updated 11:22 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Hero Award nominees and winners pose for a picture at the end of the ceremony at Stoney Creek Inn on Tuesday. Of the 36 volunteers nominated this year, there were seven winners. This year marked the Hero Award's tenth anniversary.

COLUMBIA — Two hundred forty faces, some familiar, most anonymous, filled the ballroom of the Stoney Creek Inn as they waited for the winners to be announced.

The 10th annual Hero Awards reception was held Tuesday afternoon, recognizing volunteers around Columbia who were nominated because of their work with local nonprofit agencies, according to a news release.

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Thirty-six groups and individuals were nominated for Hero Awards in seven different categories: outstanding volunteer in education and literacy, lifetime achievement, community protection, health and volunteer of the year, the last of which was separated into three smaller categories: youth, group, and adult.

The event was presented by the Columbia Daily Tribune and sponsored by Landmark Bank; they donated a combined $400 to each of the winners' organizations.

Melinda Elmore, a retired state official, won the award for outstanding volunteer in education and literacy for her time volunteering at Southern Boone County Public Schools.

Elmore said volunteering has always been a part of her life and the personal benefits that come with her work with the community keep her involved.

"The best part of volunteering is getting to watch the students' progress and how their faces light up when they learn something," Elmore said.

Amadi Swartz, volunteer for the Boone County Council on Aging, nominated Fairview Church of Christ, the winner of the volunteer of the year award for groups. The church performs hundreds of hours of service every year for local neighborhoods around Columbia, according to the release.

Swartz nominated the church because of what she felt was its unique capacity to serve the community.

"I nominated them to create community awareness of how they're impacting the community for the better," Swartz said.

Chuck Everitt was named volunteer of the year in the individuals category. Everitt organizes fundraisers every year to help raise money for the Columbia Youth Football League. Everett has been involved with the league for close to 40 years.

"Life is about giving back, and I have a soft spot for the youth," Everitt said. "I love to help people and watch them grow to do things they never thought they could do."


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