On Monday, April 14, the Columbia Daily Tribune recognized 41 individual volunteers and groups at the 13th annual Hero Awards. Of the 41 nominees, seven received awards for their contributions.
The Hero Awards were designed in order to recognize the efforts volunteers make throughout the year to improve the city. By partnering with Joe Machens dealerships, Landmark Bank and the Voluntary Action Center, the Columbia Daily Tribune is also able to present each award recipient with a $400 donation to the nonprofit organization they serve.
Five years ago, the Columbia Daily Tribune was able to add four additional award categories to include outstanding volunteers working for community protection, education or literacy, health care, and in the arts. Prior to that, there were only three awards: one for youth volunteer of the year, group volunteer of the year and individual volunteer of the year.
Chris Hombs was awarded the Outstanding Volunteer in Community Protection for his work at Harvest House, a homeless shelter in Boonville. Hombs passed away in January so his wife, Deborah, accepted the award on his behalf.
“I know Chris would be proud,” Hombs said. “And the representatives from Harvest House: that they nominated him, that they thought enough of him to nominate him, makes me very proud.”
Linda Hays, marketing manager at the Tribune, has been working on the Hero Awards since they began in 2002.
“The format is similar,” Hays said, “it’s just that the stories change and the good works change from year to year but the way that we tell them is close to how it was when we started.”
Executive director at Voluntary Action Center Nick Foster has not had the ability to be present for all of the award ceremonies like Hays but said that does not change the genuine gratitude that’s present every year he has been able to participate.
“When you hear what these volunteers are doing, and some of them are very creative about the way they go about volunteering… it’s inspiring to hear that, to hear the level of commitment they have and we know that as a result they have an impact,” said Foster.
According to Foster and Hays, the hope is that recognition will spur more volunteering, continuing to make Columbia a great place to live.
“We could not do what we do without those volunteers and so, we’re grateful for the opportunity to say thank you like this,” said Foster.