The recipients were well spoken and their nominators were full of praise, but for the 26th annual Klamath Country Volunteer of the Year banquet, the community was the big winner.
Some 280 people attended the event sponsored by United Way of the Klamath Basin at the Klamath Basin Senior Citizen Center Tuesday. Thirty-four volunteers and organizations were recognized with an award for excellence for their work and 11 more were named finalists in their separate categories because they received the highest scores from the judges.
Janah Moorer, 14, was awarded the 2019 Volunteer of the Year, for her work for Toys for Tots which she has led and been the public face for, for the last two years.
“I actually started volunteering when I was 6, when I saw the empty Toys for Tots box while shopping with my mom,” Moorer said. “Once you start volunteering, it’s hard to stop,” she said.
In 2017, Moorer raised $15,000; increased family signups for the program from 1,500 to 3,000 children; and collected 10,000 presents for the program. In 2018, she raised $20,000 and collected 20 pallets of toys. She recruited students as her primary workforce and came up with an innovative approach in reaching families who may not have otherwise signed up for the program.
Moorer has also volunteered more than 800 hours for local service groups such as the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission, Emergency Food Bank and Youth Rising. Her family donated their trailer to a family burned out by the Camp Fire outside of Chico, Calif.
Shari Hargrave nominated Moorer. “When I first met her, I just could not believe all the things she was doing. The more I talked to her the more I realized how hard she was working,” Hargrave said.
Surprisingly, Moorer’s story is not unique to the winners at Tuesday’s event. All of the volunteers and groups have dedicated hundreds of hours to serving the community.
Heidi Neel Biggs may have said it best when she said that volunteers make up the fabric of a successful community.
“A community’s success is defined by its service organizations,” she said, noting that in the early 1900s, Klamath Falls was known for hundreds of service groups and clubs that worked to make the city a center of commerce in the state.
“It wasn’t the city that made the service groups, it was the service groups that made the city,” she said.
The 11 finalists in their categories and their nominators are:
n Caitlin Hulsey, from Henley High School was nominated by Michael Kaibel, with the Klamath Chapter of Hands & Words Are Not for Hurting.
n Sophia Gomez and Macy Hullman, seniors at Henley High School were nominated by Bobbie Sue Britton and Carly Fullerton.
n Janah Moorer is a freshman at Mazama High School. She was nominated by Sheri Hargrave.
n Heidi Neel Biggs was nominated by Alan Eberlein.
n Jenine Stuedli was nominated by Amanda Squibb.
n Beverly Coffman was nominated by Deven Collins.
n Patricia Baumann was nominated by Teri Cline with the Pregnancy Hope Center.
n Sky Lakes Medical Center Volunteers were nominated by Reid Kennedy. Reid is joined by Linda Colahan, chairperson of the Volunteer team.
n Citizens for Safe Schools Kids in the Middle Program was nominated by Britt Clark.
n Citizens for Safe Schools — School Guardian Project was nominated by Ponderosa Middle School Principal Brett Lemieux
(A complete list of all the nominations is online at www.heraldandnews.com)