Volunteers honored with Governor’s service award

Apr. 25, 2013 @ 09:03 PM

For their years of dedication to various causes — veterans, the elderly and low-income people with health issues — three Lee County volunteers were recognized Thursday with the 2013 Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service.

Ruth Conder, Don Schreiner and Doris Sylvester received the distinction, which has been awarded yearly since 1979 to as many as five people in each county in North Carolina. Conder volunteers with the Lee County Enrichment Center, and Schreiner is active in many veterans’ groups around the county. Sylvester is treasurer at The Helping Hand Clinic.

“I think God put me on this earth to be part of it, and I think God has led me to this position,” Sylvester said after the event.

She has been with the clinic, which helps people without health insurance get prescriptions and other medical help, as well as dental, eye and dermatological care, for more than a decade. She said she had previously worked in other cities — helping adults with literacy issues and volunteering for the Girl Scouts, among other groups.Janice Holmes, Volunteer Services coordinator at the Enrichment Center, which hosted the awards ceremony, said Sylvester acts as a friendly, compassionate contact with many of the people who use the clinic and need those kinds of connections.

“They need a kind word and a smile, and Doris helps with that,” Holmes said.

In his speech, Schreiner, president of the Lee County Remembrance Group and a member of several similar organizations locally, mentioned a Memorial Day event at the Sanford American Legion Post, in which local World War II veterans will be specially recognized. After the event, the Vietnam War veteran said he became active in the local veteran community after seeing small crowds at commemorations of Flag Day and other patriotic holidays.

“It was really just kind of sad,” he said of the turnout at some of the events. Schreiner said while some are still not well attended, others have grown.

Holmes said Schreiner already served his country, and she’s glad he’s still serving his community.

“Don, we appreciate all you have done, and all I know you will do, for this community because you’re just that kind of person,” she said.

Conder, who has been volunteering at the Enrichment Center for nearly three decades, said the Gay Nineties celebration is her favorite event to attend (and to volunteer for). However, she said she also really enjoys baking cookies for people who come visit — in addition to the other tasks she has taken on over the years and her work with the Veterans Health Administration.

“I love helping people, and I’m just honored and blessed to receive this award,” she said.

Added Holmes: “I don’t know what we’d do without you, and I don’t want to find out.”