For Carol Usher, standing in front of 250 people as they applauded her volunteerism was more than a little overwhelming.
“I think that’s the biggest applause I’ve ever gotten,” Usher told the crowd.
Usher was named Volunteer of the Year at the 20th Annual Klamath Country Volunteer of the Year luncheon Tuesday afternoon.
The United Way of the Klamath Basin, which hosted the event at the Klamath Basin Senior Citizens Center in partnership with the Klamath County Commissioners, honored 27 nominated volunteers.
Usher said she was “shocked” and “amazed” to be honored along with the other volunteers.
This week is National Volunteer Week across the country, Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum explained to the crowd. Linthicum said that according to the latest research, 65 million Americans age 16 and older volunteer an average of 50 hours a year, which works out to 3.25 billion volunteer hours a year.
“This is exactly why communities like ours across America have events like this,” Linthicum said.
Marla Edge, the United Way Volunteer Center director, said she was glad to celebrate the big hearts of the volunteers nominated.
“You act and you act, and you act again,” Edge said to the volunteers.
The event not only honored this years volunteers, but Volunteer of the Year winners from the last 20 years.
“This has been a really important event for the last 20 years,” said United Way president Mitch Stokes. “Volunteerism is what keeps this community and this organization and all of our nonprofits running.”
Usher is part of the Roosevelt Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization, volunteers at both Roosevelt and Fairview Elementary schools teaching students about science and math, is a Girl Scout troop leader, works with Klamath Basin Habitat for Humanity and gives her time to her church, First United Methodist as the financial secretary, and programs like Youth Group, the After-school Mentoring Program, and Provide a Loving Meal.
On top of all that, Usher is also a part-time nurse at Sky Lakes Medical Center and a mother of three young children.
“I was a Girl Scout as a kid,” Usher said. “There was always that aspect of helping out. It’s always been a part of me.
She has worked as a volunteer in different aspects throughout her life, even as a candy striper at her local hospital when she was a young girl, Usher said.
Now, her favorite part of volunteering is working at schools, where she can watch children as their faces light up when they understand a concept.
“It really is just fun,” Usher said, adding that she hopes to transmit that joy to all the people she works with.
Usher, who was nominated by Roosevelt PTO president Karin Hughes, said she was humbled to be honored with so many other worthy volunteers.
“I don’t do it for recognition, I do it for the love of doing it,” Usher said.
Usher was emotional when Linthicum called her name, and said that her tears came from happiness.
“Klamath is awesome,” she told the crowd.