Two local volunteers stand out

Apr. 10, 2014 @ 07:56 PM

Two Sanford natives have received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for 2014, and friends and family honored them Thursday morning at the Lee County Enrichment Center.

Kaye Hall Cummings and Timothy Luke Fowler were the award winners, and their approaches to volunteering couldn’t be any different.

Cummings started playing softball when she was a little girl and never stopped. She now has coached Deep River/Northview softball teams for more than two decades. And while Cummings also has volunteered with the local 4-H club and the youth and music ministries at Jonesboro Heights Baptist Church, she said softball holds a special place in her heart.

“It’s more than just the love of the game,” Cummings said. “Being a coach is about working with young people to help them grow. It’s teaching respect. And they come to you with their problems, and years later, they’ll email you and say thanks, and that’s just such a great feeling.”

While Cummings has a long history of volunteering and being involved with many families, Fowler’s volunteering has been shorter-lived and mainly behind the scenes.

In a whirlwind two-year span at San-Lee Park, Fowler identified the need for an overflow parking lot and then made it happen. Through the donation of his labor, tools and heavy machinery, according to Park Ranger Steve Godfrey, Fowler saved the park thousands of dollars and also made it possible for even more people to enjoy San-Lee.

“Thanks to him we don’t have to put up ‘park’s full, come back later’ signs every weekend, which people got real mad over,” Godfrey said, adding that he hated seeing the sad looks on children’s faces when they had to be turned away because there was nowhere for their parents to park. “[Fowler] saved us from that.”

Fowler works in Fuquay-Varina doing landscaping. When he has free time, he said he likes to spend it helping out at San-Lee Park, where he said he has fond memories of playing as a child. And even when he was hard at work grading the new lot, spreading gravel and creating a drainage system, he never complained.

“He’ll work in the morning and then come in the afternoon — even when it’s so hot you can’t breathe — and get right to work helping at the park,” Godfrey said.

Fowler, in his matter-of-fact style, explained that he just simply doesn’t mind going from working outdoors to volunteering outdoors.

“I hate being inside,” he said.

But whether working behind the scenes like Fowler or in a dugout like Cummings, the volunteer honorees said they are not the only ones ready to help in Sanford.

“I have a lady right now who I tell, ‘You’re going to take over for me when I’m in a wheelchair,’” Cummings said.