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Press Releases (Most Recent)

Diverse Group of Outstanding Volunteers in Forsyth County Are Recognized

(Winston-Salem, NC)This morning, HandsOn Northwest North Carolina in partnership with the United Way of Forsyth County, Salem College, and The Winston-Salem Journal presented the 2019 Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards to fifteen recipients from across Forsyth County.  HandsOn, whose mission is to mobilize people and organizations that inspire community change, presented the awards at a breakfast presented the awards at a breakfast attended by more than 200 people at 8am on Wednesday, April 17th at Wake Forest University’s Bridger Field House. Winners were selected by a volunteer committee from a diverse pool of nearly 40 nominees. Award recipients are: The Shepherd’s Center Singers (Group/Team); Joseph Turner (Senior); The Legendary Labelers-Frank Young & Michael Collison (Perseverance in Volunteerism); Darlene Talbot (Faith-Based); HanesBrands (Corporate/Business); Moriah Gendy (National Service); Camilla Washington (Veterans and Military Families); Richard Gray (Serving Youth); Maya Agger (Disaster); Elite Canine’s Comfort Dogs (Animals); Deanna Perez (Cultural); Liz Price (Environment); Charles Poteat (Health and Human Services); Myrtie Davis (Lifetime Achievement); Robin Pardella (Director of Volunteers).  The People’s Choice Award winner, chosen from amongst all of the nominees by voters at JournalNow.com, was Myrtie Davis, marking the first time in the history of the People’s Choice Award that they chose a category winner. The program featured the winners sharing their individual and inspirational stories of service. The emcee was Kenneth Pettigrew of the Winston-Salem Urban League. 

These volunteers give their time to a variety of different organizations. The Shepherd Center Singers share their talents with numerous nursing homes in the area, and support each other as participants at The Shepherd Center of Greater Winston-Salem.  Mr. Turner, aged 85, supports literacy efforts at Kimberly Park Elementary School. The Legendary Labelers overcome the logistics of Michael’s wheelchair to label eggs weekly at Second Harvest Food Bank of NWNC.  Darlene Talbot has become known as the “Underwear Queen” at Helping Hands Ministry. HanesBrands was recognized for their support of Samaritan Ministry, while Moriah Gandry was recognized for her dedication to service above and beyond her role as an AmeriCorps VISTA Leader at Wake Forest University. Camilla Washington has been influential in building and rehabbing homes for veterans and their families through the work of Whole Man Ministries.  Richard Gray serves as a mentor and role model for numerous young men at Walkertown Middle and High School, while Ms. Agger, a former recipient, “pays it forward” as a disaster volunteer with the American Red Cross.  The Elite Canine’s Comfort Dogs spread joy throughout the community, especially at events hosted by The Piedmont Down Syndrome Association. The art teacher at Vienna Elementary School counts on the daily support of Deanna Perez, while Ms. Price works to ensure that every client at Catholic Charities benefits from their sustainable-raised garden produce. Mr. Poteat makes sure that everyone, no matter their circumstances, crosses the threshold of Novant Health’s Medical Park Hospital with a smile on their face. Myrtie Davis has brought both her children, and now her grandchildren, along for the ride during her weekly Meals-on-Wheels deliveries for Senior Services. Robin Pardella was recognized for her decades of excellence in supporting and mobilizing volunteers at The Salvation Army.

Please see a PDF of the attached program, which includes profiles of each winner and the names of the additional nominees, for more details. A group picture of some of the winners is also attached. For more information, call HandsOn NWNC at 724-2866 or through e-mail to AmyLytle@HandsOnNWNC.org.

About the Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards

The Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards have been awarded by the Governor’s Office and its Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service for nearly 40 years. The award honors citizens who have shown significant concern and compassion for their neighbors through volunteer service. In Forsyth County, the awards were coordinated for over a dozen years by the United Way. Since 2007, the United Way and HandsOn NWNC have worked together to co-host the awards breakfast. Salem College joined the planning team in 2013, and, in 2014, The Winston-Salem Journal helped launch an online nomination and voting system for the awards, including a “People’s Choice Award.”

About HandsOn NWNC

HandsOn NWNC, based in Winston-Salem, NC, is a member of the Points of Light Global Affiliate Network and mobilizes people and organizations that inspire community change. They engage approximately 5,000 people a year in meaningful volunteer service across a network of more than 500 different nonprofits across Forsyth, Surry, Stokes, Davie, Davidson, and Yadkin counties.

Local Service Partners Hold “Read-In” to Honor King Holiday
THIS SATURDAY (January 19th)

Winston-Salem, NC- Saturday, January 19thHandsOn Northwest North Carolina, in conjunction with Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem State University,  and UNC School of the Arts, will lead the 10th Annual MLK Read-In event in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Event organizers plan to promote Dr. King’s messages of social justice, non-violence, service, and literacy.  The event will be held on Wake Forest University’s Benson University Center from 9:30 to Noon.

At the Read-In, approximately 100 pre-registered children, aged 4-10, will be matched with a volunteer Reading Buddy, most of them local college students. Together, they will spend the morning learning about Dr. King’s ideals through engaging in activities at 15 “service” stations that relate to Dr. King’s legacy of service, literacy, education, and self-empowerment.  At the Reading Station, each child will be given one donated age-appropriate book and one new civil-rights themed book to keep and read with their Reading Buddy volunteer.  At the other stations, the children will perform acts of service and activities that drive home Dr. King’s message and legacy.

MLK Day can be a springboard for service throughout the year. “This event serves as an inspiration for the volunteers involved. We hope many who are serving today will make an ongoing commitment to serve throughout the year,” said Amy Lytle, Executive Director of HandsOn Northwest North Carolina. “This year, on the 10th Anniversary of this collaboration, we are so happy that Kierra McClintock, an AmeriCorps VISTA member at Wake Forest University, has been able to step forward and lead the organizing of this event.”

Approximately 150 volunteers will participate in the Read-In. For the youth participants, the event can lead to higher educational attainment aspirations, as for many of them, it will be their first time on a college campus and interacting with college students.

The Martin Luther King Day of Service is a national event presented by the Corporation for National and Community Service. HandsOn Northwest North Carolina leads local efforts to celebrate the day of service as part of its mission to strengthen our community by building the capacity of local nonprofits and increasing volunteers.  They engage more than 4,500 volunteers in service across a network of nearly 400 nonprofits each year. In addition to the Read-In, HandsOn also helped Salem College and the City of Winston-Salem mobilize hundreds of volunteers at dozens of service sites across the city over the MLK Day weekend.

Smith Reynolds Foundation Awards Sabbaticals

The Foundation has invested $3 million over 28 years in a Sabbatical Program to give veteran nonprofit leaders a break

 Winston-Salem, NC (April 26, 2018) – The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2018 Sabbatical Program.

Since 1990, the Foundation has honored North Carolina’s nonprofit leaders for their dedicated service and commitment to the sector by awarding sabbaticals. Up to five sabbaticals, which had previously been offered annually until 2016, are now offered every other year.

Established as one of the first of its kind, ZSR’s Sabbatical Program is intended to provide veteran nonprofit leaders with an extended break from work that allows time to focus on their personal needs, growth and self-revitalization so that they can return to their organizations with a rejuvenated spirit and renewed sense of focus. Recipients are encouraged to spend three to six months engaging in activities that interest them and that are unrelated to their field of work. Since the program’s inception, the Foundation has invested $3 million in the Sabbatical Program and made awards to 144 nonprofit leaders.

“It is such an inspiration to learn about the incredible commitment of nonprofit leaders who are dedicated to improving the quality of life of the people and communities they serve across North Carolina,” said Jane Patterson, Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation trustee and chair of the Sabbatical committee. “This program is not only intended to ensure that we retain strong leadership within the nonprofit sector across the state, but also provides these leaders with what they need to come back refreshed and ready to work on behalf of the residents of our state.”

“The most creative and inspiring leaders in the nonprofit sector are extremely committed to the work they do,” said Maurice “Mo” Green, executive director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “However, because of this selfless dedication, they can reach a point of burnout, where they have completely expended their personal energy. An extended break from their work allows them time to re-energize and hopefully return to their organizations with fresh ideas and newfound momentum. This makes the sabbatical not only beneficial to the recipient, but also to the staff, board and communities they are working alongside.”

This year’s recipients are:

  • Michael Gullatte, executive director of Cleveland County Rescue Mission (Shelby, NC)
  • Deanne Gerdes, executive director of Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County (Fayetteville, NC)
  • Amy Lytle, executive director of HandsOn Northwest North Carolina (Winston-Salem, NC)
  • Celeste Collins, executive director of OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling (Asheville, NC)
  • Juvencio Rocha-Peralta, executive director of Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN) (Greenville, NC)

Eligibility for a sabbatical is limited to individuals in paid, full-time executive level positions with a North Carolina based nonprofit, who have served in their organizations for at least three years (two of which are in an executive level position). Preference is given to individuals with at least five years of experience with their organization. This program is not intended for public school, college, university or government employees, hospital administrators and full-time clergy. In 2016, the Foundation increased financial support to assist organizations with planning and transition expenses, making it easier for individuals of organizations to apply. Also, sabbaticals, which had previously been offered annually, are now offered bi-annually. 2019 will be the next year leaders can apply with sabbaticals being awarded in 2020.

Profiles of the 2018 recipients are below:

Described by one colleague as a “pillar of the community,” for the past eight years, Michael Gullatte has served as executive director of Cleveland County Rescue Mission – a faith-based organization that provides shelter, recovery programs, and 24/7 supportive services to homeless men, women and children. Some of Michael’s work responsibilities include, but are not limited to: overseeing ministry department heads to ensure the consistency of responsibilities within campus facilities as well as between departments and the Board. Some of his other tasks include facilities operations, marketing, fundraising, client ministry, and program curriculum and implementation. In its last fiscal year, the Rescue Mission served more than 350 individuals, provided over 11,000 nights of shelter, and served more than 34,000 meals. Nearly 40 percent of its residents transitioned out of one of its programs and into independent living. Michael has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 16 years.

Deanne Gerdes has served as executive director of the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County for nine years. One of Deanne’s colleagues says she “has been fortunate to witness firsthand the innovation and relentlessness Deanne displays when fighting for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence” and that Deanne’s “focus allows her to negotiate some of the most challenging situations one could possibly conceive.” Deanne’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: the oversight of day to day operations, programs and staff, grant writing and grant management, fiscal oversight of the agency, speaking on behalf of the agency and/or victims of sexual violence, reviewing cases with local law enforcement, providing direct services, answering crisis calls, accompanying victims to court or legal proceedings, and crisis management. Deanne has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 25 years.

Described by a colleague as “the most selfless executive director” she knows, Amy Lytle has been at the helm of HandsOn Northwest North Carolina (NWNC) for 10 years. HandsOn NWNC works with more than 400 local nonprofits to provide high-quality capacity-building services and engages between 4,000-5,000 volunteers a year in meaningful service across that network. Amy’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the programs, services, budget, and marketing of HandsOn NWNC; overseeing all marketing and community engagement efforts; serving as the face of HandsOn in the wider community; and supporting the board and other volunteer leaders in their work. Amy has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 19 years.

Celeste Collins has worked with OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling for 24 years and served as executive director for 15 of those years. OnTrack helps people achieve their money and housing goals through financial education, counseling, and support so that they can overcome crises, afford their basic needs, improve their money management skills, and make financial choices rooted in their values. Some of Celeste’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: working with board of directors, the leadership team and staff to develop and maintain the organization’s strategic direction, policies, practices, and resources; maintaining OnTrack’s relevance by listening to stakeholders to identify unmet community needs and developing programs to meet those needs through collective impact, existing collaborations, and new partnerships; creating a culture of excellence, client satisfaction, and continuous improvement; and ensuring policies & procedures that reflect up-to-date standards for legal, ethical, and effective service delivery. OnTrack’s programs help more than 9,000 people in Western NC each year. Celeste is described by a colleague as “a trusted advisor and friend to many,” who is “one of those rare individuals who sincerely loves her work, and is dedicated to the organization and community at large.” Celeste has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 24 years.

Juvencio Rocha-Peralta has served as executive director of Association of Mexicans in North Carolina (AMEXCAN) for 16 years. The mission of AMEXCAN is to promote the active participation of Mexicans and Latinos in their new communities and encourage the appreciation, understanding, and prosperity of the Mexican and Latino community through cultural, educational, leadership, health, and advocacy activities. Juvencio’s responsibilities include, but are not limited to: overseeing and guiding all programs, events, activities, and initiatives while remaining in line with the organization’s mission. One colleague has said, “AMEXCAN has served the community beyond its capacity for as long as I can remember and Juvencio Rocha-Peralta has completed inhuman feats and sacrifices in order to serve his community. Whenever someone comes to the organization in need, Juvencio always finds a way to meet that need, be it through direct counseling, being a liaison to a service provider or institutional system, being an advocate, or simply a show of support or solidarity.” Juvencio has worked in the North Carolina nonprofit sector for 30 years.


The mission of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is to improve the quality of life for all North Carolinians. ZSR is a statewide, private, family foundation that has been a catalyst for positive change in North Carolina for more than 80 years. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, the Foundation has invested more than $572 million into North Carolina since its inception. For more information or to learn more about ZSR, visit www.zsr.org.

Duke Energy to Honor Veterans By Enhancing Forest Lawn Cemetery’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial

Greensboro, NC Friday, June 3, 2016–Thirty local Duke Energy employees and retirees teamed up with Greensboro Parks and Recreation’s Cemeteries Division to honor local veterans by cleaning head stones, planting perennial shrubs and flowers, and assembling park benches at Forest Lawn Cemetery Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Memorial, commonly known as Veterans’ Circle.

 Forest Lawn Cemetery opened in 1928 and is the largest of the City of Greensboro’s cemeteries, with more than 70 acres. A Veteran’s section, section 1, formally dedicated as a Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial and known as Veteran’s Circle, is provided for the burial of honorably discharged Veterans. A copy of the DD214 military document, indicating the honorable discharge, is required for burial here. Duke Energy volunteers worked to restore a clean luster to the headstones in the Circle, as well as planted a variety of shrubs and flowers in landscaped areas encircling the headstones. The also assembled eight park benches that will border the circle, providing seating for contemplation and reflection for veterans’ families for the first time.

 In addition to the projects that helped beautify Veteran’s Circle, the Duke Energy volunteers also assembled accessible equipment to be used by campers at Parks and Rec’s Camp Joy, the City’s inclusive summer camp for children of all abilities.

 Janet Silvers, the Duke Energy employee lead for the project, has a strong history of service within the Greensboro, NC community. “After a reflective Memorial Day earlier in the week, we thought this was a great way to honor our veterans and recognize their sacrifice. Our employees are pleased be to be able to give back to our community in this way.”

 The volunteers were directed by Parks and Rec staff, with project support being provided by HandsOn NWNC, a NC-based affiliate of the national Points of Light, which is partnering with Duke Energy across its footprint on the #Care4Environment projects.

 “We were eager to help this #Care4Environment project be a success for both Duke Energy and Parks and Rec. The cemetery is such a special, sacred place, and we were pleased to be able to provide these enhancements, especially the benches, that will make a true difference to the families of the veterans buried here. Our expertise in managing large-scale corporate service events helped everything go smoothly,” said Amy Lytle, Executive Director of HandsOn NWNC.

Points of Light– the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – mobilizes millions of people to take action that is changing the world. Through affiliates in 250 cities and partnerships with thousands of nonprofits and corporations, Points of Light engages four million volunteers in 30 million hours of service each year. Points of Light connects people to their power to make a meaningful difference by providing access to tools, resources and opportunities to help volunteers use their time, talent, voice and money to meet the critical needs of our communities. www.pointsoflight.org

HandsOn NWNC, based in Winston-Salem, NC, is one of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network affiliates, and mobilizes people and organizations that create community change. They engage more than 5,000 people a year in meaningful volunteer service across a network of approximately 500 different nonprofits across North Carolina.

The City of Greensboro’s Parks and Recreation Cemeteries Division has overseen the operation of City cemeteries for more than 130 years. Today, the division operates four public cemeteries, including Forest Lawn. The Division is responsible for maintaining burial records, selling lots and graves, providing burial and interment services, coordination of all activities within the cemeteries, and care and maintenance of the cemetery grounds. They are a member of the North Carolina Cemetery Association.

Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States. Its regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.4 million electric customers located in six states in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 24 million people. Its Commercial Portfolio and International business segments own and operate diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a S&P 100 Stock Index company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.

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