Maya Thirkill and Amelia Sullivan are Hamilton County’s winners of the 2013 Governor’s Volunteer Stars Award. They were honored along with winners from other Tennessee Counties Monday night at the sixth annual Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards Program in Franklin.
According to state generated statistics, Tennessee has about 1.3 million volunteers. The Governor’s Volunteer Stars Awards Program recognizes outstanding volunteers from each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. Nominations are submitted to the County Mayor who chooses one youth winner and one adult winner. This year, Mayor JimCoppinger received dozens of nominations for volunteers from local service organizations. Though each of the volunteers submitted were outstanding, Ms. Thirkill and Ms Sullivan were chosen unanimously by a committee.
Youth Winner: Maya Thirkill
Maya has served as a member of the Girls Inc. IMPACT (Infant Mortality Public Awareness Campaign of Tennessee) for two years. IMPACT’s mission is to reduce the number of infant deaths; a big job since Hamilton County has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the state. At only 15, Maya is already a gifted speaker and often works to educate people through in-person appearances and public service announcements. In addition, Maya networks with other local service agencies to strengthen partnerships and recruit team members. Maya’s current projects include working to translate IMPACT’S public service announcements into Spanish and organizing a community health fair in one of Hamilton County’s high risk neighborhoods.
Adult Winner: Amelia Sullivan
Ms. Sullivan has worked in the NICU at TC Thompson Children’s Hospital as a “Volunteer Cuddler” for 16 years. Though babies in this advanced unit are given highly specialized care, they still need a loving touch. Ms. Sullivan is there to hold them and rock them when their parents can’t be. She also assists nurses by diapering, feeding, and bathing the babies. As the veteran volunteer, Ms. Sullivan also helps by interviewing volunteer applicants and providing their training. Because of her dedication and longevity, the hospital placed a plaque in the ward that reads, “This bed is given in honor of Amelia Sullivan, to benefit the many babies who will start their lives here.”
Mayor Coppinger said, “I’m proud to have volunteers like Maya and Amelia in our community. They demonstrate their commitment to making the lives of others better by giving of themselves; one of the most sincere ways to truly make a difference.”