Each spring, Raleigh’s Parks & Recreation Department celebrates the awesome volunteers that are so important to the success of our parks, community centers and greenways. The awards honor the memory of Fred Fletcher, Sr., who gave 54 years of service to our city’s Parks & Recreation department. This years awards were presented at the Fletcher Opera Theater on May 12th. Below is content from the 2011 awards program. All photos and content courtesy of Raleigh Parks & Recreation.

Outstanding Financial Contributor
Chris & Karen Latta, Lindsey Danforth and Katherine Hupert (Chick-fil-A)

Over the past three years Chris and Karen Latta, Owners of Chick-fil-A at Capital Crossing and Falls Village and Katherine Hupert, Marketing Manager, have donated food to numerous Raleigh Parks and Recreation activities and programs. They have contributed to the opening day of District B Baseball for the past three years, donating 40 box lunches for score keepers and umpires over two days of the opening weekend. In addition, they provided coupons for free breakfast entrées to all teams and patrons who came to watch the games.

They also provided 25 box lunches to Green Road Center for the counselor appreciation day last summer. Chris and Katherine are always great about inviting the families from Green Road Center to their free giveaway days held at their two restaurants. The Chick-fil-A owners at Capital Crossing and Falls Village have been very good to Raleigh Parks and Recreation programs and enjoy helping out whenever they can. The Green Road Staff would like to recognize them as the Outstanding Financial Contributor for the 2012 Fred Fletcher Awards.

Nominated by: Dan Bagley, Recreation Program Supervisor III

Outstanding Athletic Volunteer
Bert Dupree

Bert Dupree has been and continues to be an Outstanding Athletic Volunteer at Roberts Park Community Center. Mr. Dupree has not had one of his own children participate with the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Athletic Department in 20 years. Despite not having any children participating, Mr. Dupree never fails to dedicate his time and efforts to Roberts Park Athletic Programs. Each year Mr. Dupree commits himself to at least two athletic seasons at Roberts Park.

Mr. Dupree teaches participants to be dedicated and sincere to the sport that they are playing. He instills moral values that the youth should practice at school like patience, and honesty while dealing with their parents and other adults. Mr. Dupree encourages his players that winning is not the most important aspect of a sport. He believes that sharing and utilizing character traits such as perseverance and sincerity are far more important than winning a game. Mr. Dupree knows that the character traits will take the participants much further than winning a game.

Mr. Dupree dedicates his time to Roberts Center despite other fulltime commitments. He is also the Head JV Basketball Coach at Neuse Christian Academy in Raleigh and the head of the Pacers AAU Basketball organization. Mr. Dupree is a retired City of Raleigh Fire Department Captain who is always giving back to the citizens of Raleigh. He has truly been an Outstanding Volunteer to the Raleigh Parks and Recreation Athletics Department and Roberts Park Community Center.

Nominated by Kevin Sanders, Recreation Program Supervisor I

Outstanding Greenway Volunteer
Boy Scout Troop 215

It is an honor and privilege to nominate Boy Scouts of America Troop 215 for the Outstanding Greenway Volunteer Award. In 2005, the City of Raleigh partnered with the Occoneechee Council to form the Adopt-A-Trail program. That same year Troop 215 adopted Abbots Creek trail in the Falls River community making them the first troop to adopt a City of Raleigh Greenway trail. Although the agreement suggests a troop adopt a ¼ mile section of the trail, Troop 215 adopted the entire trail which stretches over a mile.

Their ongoing efforts provide a clean and safe trail setting. The detailed reports they are required to complete quarterly provide staff with useful information regarding trail usage and maintenance issues. Their inspection and policing of the trail provides additional observations from a user’s point of view. Although the members of the troop have changed and may have aged out of the program over the years, Troop 215 has continued their efforts with new boys each year and sets high standards for all Adopt-A-Trail groups.

Nominated by Brian Johnson, Greenway Supervisor

Outstanding Adopt-A-Park Volunteer
Helen Tart

Helen Tart was inspired by Ernie, the beloved dog of Helen Tart and Don Pickett, to organize Friends of the Off Leash Dog Park at Oakwood Park. Her actions, in cooperation with the City of Raleigh Adopt-A-Park program and neighbors, resulted in the opening of the Off Leash Dog Park at Oakwood Park. Ernie always had a fondness for the area of the park that was eventually fenced in. He was right by Helen’s side in June of 2006 at the park’s grand opening.

Ms. Tart has volunteered a tremendous amount of time coordinating activities such as park clean-ups, special projects and play dates for dogs and their friends. She is always educating users, ensuring overall cleanliness of the facility, making sure the needs of the park are met, and serving as a liaison between users and the City. Ms. Tart has continuously been a great partner and is always willing to go beyond the call of duty.

She is a great advocate of the Dog Park and is diligent in her dedication and commitment to providing an excellent experience for all visitors.

Nominated by Christie Jones, Recreation Program Supervisor III

Outstanding Specialized Recreation
Volunteer Adam Burke

Adam has been volunteering with Special Olympics Wake County since 2005 assisting with team basketball, team soccer, and the track and field training group. Adam assists the athletes on almost a weekly basis from late August through the first weekend of June working with a different sport each season.

In 2005, Adam contacted staff seeking a way to get involved with the athletes in the specialized recreation program. Staff put him to work as an assistant coach with the 3 on 3 basketball teams. He has led the Lightning basketball team to improve and mature from a 3 on 3 half court team to a full court team. He has also been the assistant coach for the Tornadoes soccer team for 6 seasons and a co-coach for the 30+ member track team for 7 seasons.

In each of his roles Adam has quickly and easily integrated himself into the team/group structure. He has never seemed concerned with the specific title of his role and he is equally adept at being the coach in charge or playing a more supporting role. He has always been a pleasure to work with and the other coaches speak very highly of him.

Most importantly Adam has always been completely reliable and works extremely well with the athletes. He manages to command the attention of his players without having to raise his voice or to be overly authoritarian with his coaching style. He always makes sure that his athletes are enjoying what they are doing while trying to improve their skills and teamwork. He gets to know the athletes, jokes around with them, lets them have input in what they are doing, and still manages to keep them focused and active throughout the entire practice.

Nominated by Brian Philpot, Recreation Program Manager

Outstanding Volunteer Group
NCSU MBA Student Association

For the past several years, the NCSU MBA’s have regularly contacted the Volunteer Director requesting project opportunities in Raleigh’s parks. The recent two year closing and renovation of Pullen Amusements presented a wealth of landscape/hardscape opportunities and many volunteers were needed from meticulously prepping and painting all lake and bridge rails over a ten month period to resurfacing the two miles of railroad gravel bed supporting the train ride. The MBA’s stepped in to lend a hand.

The MBA’s volunteered twice during the duration of the rail painting project, and each time combined a focused finesse for detail with an indefatigable physical drive to get the job done. They also assisted with resurfacing the railroad track spreading new gravel along the two mile stretch of train track. This group found order in the chaos, met the challenge, and significantly contributed to the “New Pullen”.

The North Carolina State University MBA’s are a hardworking, detail oriented group who has chosen to bring their talents and spirit to Raleigh Parks and Recreation. They move mountains; but precisely, just so. They are an inspiration to others working around them – they have repeatedly demonstrated the rare and wonderful knack of enjoying each other while having fun seriously working; it is infectious. North Carolina State University MBA Program encapsulates and exemplifies the character, dedication and spirit of volunteerism the Fred Fletcher Outstanding Volunteer Awards seeks to recognize.

Nominated by: John Bento, Assistant Park Operations Supervisor

Outstanding Volunteer Group
Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild

Three years ago, Chavis Community Center’s Art Room was totally remodeled. With a limited supply budget, the Carolina Mixed Media Art Guild agreed to partner with the center in order to donate arts and crafts supplies. After two full years of donations, the Arts and Crafts room at Chavis Center is fully stocked with paint, crayons, clay, arts kits, coloring books and more. Their estimated total contribution to date is nearly $7000!

Not only did the Guild agree to donate supplies, they also agreed to donate their time. Once a month, two or more volunteers from the group ascend on Chavis Center for a fun and entertaining art session with the youth. During these visits, they have created art journals and introduced varying artistic mediums. Many of these volunteers do not live in Raleigh, however they sacrifice their time in order to provide this valuable service.

One can quantify donations or place a value on a person’s time, but it is impossible to measure the size of their heart and the desire to serve. Fred Fletcher embodied this sentiment, and he would be proud to see the contribution of the Art Guild!

Nominated by: Aldostin Byrd, Recreation Program Supervisor III

Outstanding Park Volunteer
Braxton Overby

Braxton Overby came to Mordecai in May of 2011 with a desire to volunteer at a historic park. Braxton had many years experience volunteering with historic sites and was looking in Raleigh to volunteer when one of his friends suggested he come to Mordecai. At his first meeting with staff his enthusiasm was apparent as he detailed the ways he would like to help: giving tours, working at special events, dressing in first person and, a favorite, authentic hearth cooking! Braxton jumped right in and since June has accumulated the most volunteer hours at Mordecai Park.

Braxton is concerned with historic authenticity and spends a lot of time researching Mordecai and the events surrounding the family and Raleigh. His historic authenticity extends down to his clothing; he has acquired period clothing from head to toe and conducts tours in these period pieces. Visitors enjoy his enthusiasm and complement his tours regularly. A professor of historic journalism recently told me that Braxton was the ‘A’ team!

Braxton’s association with cooking at Mordecai extends beyond judging however. An avid chef, Braxton uses those skills at Mordecai as well. He periodically cooks in the plantation kitchen on the campus creating authentic and delicious meals that the public and staff enjoy immensely. Again, his research into authentic cookware and ingredients make the experience both educational for the public and enjoyable at the same time. Visitors who’ve experienced his recipes always ask when he will be firing up the hearth at Mordecai again.

Braxton continues to bring new ideas and enthusiasm to Mordecai. He is one of the leading advocates and never misses the chance to inform the public about Mordecai Park, events and the history of Raleigh. All are grateful Braxton decided to look for a historic focus in Raleigh and found and embraced Mordecai Historic Park.

Nominated by: Fran Hunter, Volunteer Coordinator

Outstanding Program Volunteer
Teresa Dawson

Teresa has volunteered at Mordecai for over five years. She has loyally worked at events through the years and brought family members to volunteer as well. Even though she has been a volunteer for many years, she is willing to take any job that needs to be done no matter how ordinary it may be. She is quick to accept the hardest, coldest or most tiresome job that needs doing. She understands the purpose of events and seeks to make them thoroughly enjoyable for the park visitors.

During special events there are many different activities, crafts, games and tours. Teresa has the ability to see the big picture, what is needed and then jump right into doing what needs to be accomplished the most. It is a pleasure to work with someone who doesn’t need a lot of direction but you know will get the job done. And once she’s finished the most pressing job, Teresa moves right on to the next project.

Teresa is not vocal about all she does at Mordecai but is content to work behind the scenes to make events successful. Staff has appreciated her years of dedication at Mordecai and the help that she provides. Teresa is one of those volunteers who have worked behind the scenes and out of the public eye to provide a great event experience for visitors. Mordecai staff commends her and applaud her hard work and appreciates all the time she gives to Mordecai Historic Park.

Nominated by: Fran Hunter, Mordecai Volunteer Coordinator

Outstanding Senior Adult Program Volunteer
Frank Mansfield

From the very beginning of his life, Frank Mansfield has been a man for others. He began his adult life, as a late teenager during World War II, by volunteering for the United States Marine Corps. From that time to the present, Frank has continued to look for ways in which to serve his fellowman. At 90 years of age, it would be hard to find a younger spirit or one more dedicated to helping others. He routinely calls his friends on the telephone just to “check in.” He will always end the call with a question such as “How can I make your day better?” To tell the truth, a call from Frank has already made any recipient’s day better.

Frank has given selflessly of this time to members of the Fellowship Club as well as the community. He works with fellow volunteers from the Triangle Wood Workers Club, who, in conjunction with the Marine Corps Association and the Salvation Army, made over 8,000 wooden toys for underprivileged children for Christmas.

In 2010, he was awarded the “75 Year Diamond Award” for his many years of volunteer work with the Boy Scouts of America. And in 2011 he participated in the “Flight of Honor,” a trip to Washington for veterans of World War II and has volunteered to help with future “Flights.” After recently undergoing serious surgery, he made a comment that he had not done enough for others and wanted to dedicate his life to giving and doing for others and senior adult programs. Mr. Mansfield is an inspiration to all.

Nominated by: Laura Miller, Leader of Fellowship Club

Outstanding Teen Volunteer
Elissa Wells

Elissa is currently a senior at Cardinal Gibbons High School and has been an active participant in the Raleigh Youth Council (RYC) for the past three years. During this time she has given over 100 hours of community service, participated with our leadership programs, recreational events, fundraisers, State Youth Conferences, and Youth Legislative Assembly. The Raleigh Youth Council has meetings the second and fourth Monday from August through May and one meeting per month during summer vacation. She has shown exceptional attendance and involvement at these meetings and RYC programs, receiving the Most Dedicated Member Award for the 2010-2011 school year.

Elissa has held leadership positions on the Executive Board with RYC, including Secretary her junior year, and this year she is the Chair of RYC. She volunteers not only her time and commits to better our community, but she volunteers her advice, friendship, and leadership skills to whoever needs them. Being an honor roll student, taking college courses, and actively participating in her high school’s golf team and other clubs, Elissa has still found time to volunteer with the following events sponsored by Raleigh Parks and Recreation: Run for the Oaks, Specialized Recreation Halloween and Valentines Dance, Buddy Walk, Santa’s Elves Workshop, Domino Day, and Kidsfest.

This year, the Raleigh Youth Council started a Teen Safe Driving Initiative through a grant from the Allstate Foundation. Elissa has been heavily involved and taken a leadership role with the ideas and planning of this initiative. She has committed over 50 teens so far to pledge safe driving habits and continues to educate other teens about safe driving. Along with RYC, Elissa is also Chair of the Saint Monica Teen Center Teen Advisory Board, which was established last year when the Saint Monica Teen Center opened. The Teen Advisory Board empowers teens and helps guide the mission and vision of the Saint Monica Teen Center. Elissa continues to find the time and energy to volunteer in order to make teen programs and the community better.

Nominated by: Daniel Price, Recreation Program Manager

Award of Excellence
Dionne Lester

In 1991, a group of citizens had a vision for a playground in Raleigh where all children could play together. This vision became the All Children’s Playground at Laurel Hills Park. This playground was state of the art for its time and has served the community well over the past twenty years. In recent years, advances in playground design and equipment along with heavy use and material deterioration of the existing playground pointed to the need to replace this wonderful city asset.

A new vision appeared on the horizon in May 2009 when Darryl Lester, representatives of the Frankie Lemmon Foundation and several other citizen advocates met with Parks and Recreation Department staff to discuss their idea for a new playground – one that was inclusive and fully accessible by all children. As parents of a child with cerebral palsy, Dionne and Darryl Lester saw the need for a new and revitalized play space. From their vision seed emerged Sassafras All Children’s Playground at Laurel Hills Park. Sassafras is a public/private partnership established through a memorandum of understanding between the City of Raleigh and the Frankie Lemmon Foundation who serve as the fiscal agent for the project.

Since that day in 2009, Dionne and Darryl Lester have coaxed that seedling idea to grow and have nurtured its development. Serving on the Sassafras Steering Committee as co-chairs of the Development Subcommittee, Dionne and Darryl have led funding raising efforts for the project. Not only did they breathe life into this endeavor, but they both “live and breathe” Sassafras All Children’s Playground. Dionne and Darryl have given countless hours to committee work and fundraising events. Through their personal effort, over $250,000 has been raised for the playground project! Their dedication to the project is exemplary and they are committed to seeing their seedling idea grow to fruition. There is no doubt that Sassafras All Children’s Playground will rise as a living testimony to their selfless and tireless work.

Dionne and Darryl Lester have enabled others to envision a place where all children can swing, slide, giggle and glide together regardless of ability.

Nominated by: Wayne Schindler, Parks Superintendent