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United Way holds awards banquet

Griffith, Levangie earn top volunteer awards

Posted: April 7, 2011 4:36 p.m.
Updated: April 8, 2011 5:00 a.m.

The Volunteers of the Year recognized at the United Way of Kershaw County banquet in March are (Front row from left) Marliene Koberg, Joan Reconnu, Dianne Conner, Karen Eckford, Nancy Reu and Nike Downey representing the WELCA group, Gayle Harris, Ollie Thompson-Brisbane and Keith Williamson. (Back row from left) Bernard Ransom, Ted Koberg, Richard Armstrong, Dale Conner, Robert Levangie, Graham Coates, Jim Bradshaw, Frankie Taylor and Sonny Allen.

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In early March, United Way of Kershaw County honored its volunteers, staff and contributors with an annual awards banquet.

“We’re very proud of all our volunteers who make our campaign each year possible,” United Way Director Donny Supplee said.

During the program, Supplee outlined the organization’s priorities for 2011-12, which include increasing the graduation rate to 95 percent by 2018; reducing by 50 percent the number of financially unstable working families by 2018; increasing the number of healthy adults and children by 2018 to 20 percent; and ending homelessness and hunger in the county.

While many people from different volunteer agencies were recognized for their hard work and dedication, two men stood out above the rest.

Bob Levangie took home the Anne Dallas Volunteer of the Year Award for the many hours he has put into helping the community through the American Red Cross.

“In my book, Bob is a hero,” American Red Cross Board Chairman Jack West said. “Fires and emergencies don’t happen between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Anyone who gets out of bed at any hour to help someone in need get my vote. Bob does that.”

Levangie is on-call for the Red Cross 24 hours a day for two weeks each month. During this time he responds to local disasters, which typically involves a house fires or emergency phone calls from military family members during a time of crisis.

In 2010, Levangie helped 39 children and 60 adults.  In the past three years, he has assisted more than 100 families during a crisis.

Along with his service for the Red Cross, Levangie is a dedicated member of the Lions’s Club and VFW Post 8346, where he has helped collect more than 1,000 pairs of glasses for the needy and worked as part of a team to provide Christmas dinner to veterans.

The Rev. Frank Griffith was presented with the Jake Watson Award, an award named after a man described as a “volunteer of volunteers” by John Shell.

“People who know Frank describe him as wise, a quiet but persistent leader, soft spoken yet very determined, a bulldog in more ways than one, good listener, excellent communicator, and a consensus builder. He is all that and more,” Shell said during the ceremony.

Griffith first came to Camden in 1999 as the pastor of Lyttleton Street United Methodist Church. During his time as pastor, the church was recognized in 2001 as the first organization to be given the Jake Watson Award.

“It was no accident that (this award was given) under his leadership,” Shell said.

After retirement, Griffith chaired the first Hunger and Homelessness Community Care Council for the United Way, which formulated the vision statement, “To end hunger and homelessness in Kershaw County.”

“That effort ultimately led to the creation of Food for The Soul, our local soup kitchen and emergency shelter,” Shell said. “Frank was a founding father of Food for the Soul, has served as its first board chair, and has been the driving force behind its success.  Under his steady leadership, Frank guided Food for the Soul into a wonderful partnership with Mt. Moriah Baptist Church and eventually to the construction of its own facility on the United Way campus.”
Shell added that in years past, selecting a recipient for the Jake Watson Award had been tough at times, but Griffith was “an obvious choice.”

As the evening progressed, awards were given to volunteers and organizations in the industrial, professional, commercial, individual, schools, and public employee divisions who participated in the United Way’s campaign.

Janis Gardner was recognized during the banquet for her 15 years of service with United Way. The agency’s employees used to consist of two people, Gardner and Supplee.

“The budget has grown from $300,000 to $1.2 million since Janis and I started out,” Supplee said. “Our community is blessed to have the continuity and quality of service that Janis has provided over the years.”

Target Distribution Center was given the Community Leadership Award.

“We appreciate the outstanding work the United Way provides to the community and Target is pleased to announce that in 2010 Target team members made financial contributions of $38,000 along with out merchandise donations of $37,383,” wrote Gene Wise, general manager of Target Distribution Center. “We look forward to our continued association in 2011 and thank you for helping Kershaw County be a better place to live.”


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