By Kelli Crawford, Resource Manager of Volunteers and Collections at the Greensboro Science Center
On Monday, July 25, I traveled to Raleigh to receive the Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service. It was an incredibly humbling experience, even more so because it came as a result of the support I’ve received from the Volunteer Center of Greensboro, the Greensboro Science Center, and our outstanding volunteers.
With my husband, parents and brother watching, I sat in the capitol building surrounded by some truly incredible volunteers. As I listened to excerpts from their nominations, I recognized in those twenty volunteers many of the qualities I’ve seen in the volunteers who dedicate their time to the Greensboro Science Center. These selfless individuals serve their organizations not for an award, but because they believe in the mission and want to be a vital part of helping that organization achieve it. That’s true of our volunteers as well.
The ceremony gave me the opportunity to meet Governor Pat McCrory for a short time before he had to head out for a speaking engagement. In his place, Susan Kluttz, the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, actually gave each of us our medals. They recognized 21 volunteers total in the following categories: Senior, Youth, Mentor, Group/Team, Lifetime Achievement, Faith-Based, Disaster, Corporate/Business, Perseverance in Volunteerism, and Director of Volunteers.
Just as each of our volunteers does not serve to be recognized, I don’t do this job with that in mind. I do it because I truly believe in the difference one individual can make in their community. Our volunteers have shown me that. Yet with recognition comes positive growth for our program. In the past few years, we’ve been fortunate to have one of our own, Jim Blalock, win the award for Individual Volunteer of the Year in 2014 for Guilford County. Our program was recognized as Non-Profit Volunteer Program of the Year in 2015 for Guilford County. This most recent statewide recognition may be in my name, but it is truly a reflection of the hard work of the volunteers I am blessed to lead and learn from every day.
I often tell our volunteers that they are the face of the Greensboro Science Center. They’re out on the floor engaging with our visitors on a daily basis. They’re the ones who get to tell a visitor everything they want to know about that favorite Javan gibbon – his or her name, age, diet, personality quirks, likes and dislikes. Those conversations can ignite an awareness of that species as a whole. That’s the fun pa
rt and the part that really gets to the core of our mission. Yet they’re also the people who may be tasked with telling a visitor that their favorite animal has passed away. Seeing the care and concern they display in such difficult times makes me incredibly proud. There are unique perks to being a volunteer at a facility like ours, but it’s not always easy. The grace they exemplify, their constant desire to improve, to gain knowledge and to serve is inspiring.
I want to thank all of our volunteers for their selfless service, their dedication to conservation and education, and their implicit trust that my team and I are working hard each day for their benefit. We want them to enter our doors knowing that they’ve got the resources they need to make a difference and leave them knowing that they did. They make us proud every day. I’m incredibly honored to have represented all of them in Raleigh and look forward to continuing to work with them to Volunteer. Educate. Inspire.