PHOTO: Outstanding Volunteens
The Volunteen Program at J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center started in 1964. Volunteer Services Director Marsha Riddle started the program with 42 young people at what was then called Western Carolina Center. The teenagers in that first group called themselves ‘Volunteens.’ The original group worked in the Recreation Department, helping staff in a day camp program through the early years of the program.
Many of the first Volunteens became interested in working with people with developmental disabilities, and many of their careers reflect the discoveries they made as teens. They found health service careers at J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center and in the community.
The summer of 2013 marked the 50th summer of service by young teenagers from the Catawba Valley area. Most of the Volunteens are from Burke County while some come from the Hickory, Lenoir, Marion and other areas. The 2013 Summer Program was managed by James Watson, an intern from Appalachian State University. Watson was a participant in the State Government Intern Program through the Youth Advocacy and Involvement Office in the Department of Administration.
As in more recent years, the Volunteens worked in placements in direct contact with center residents, placements with indirect contact and at the Exceptional Equestrian Program. This summer there were more than 50 teens working across the center’s campus and at the horse barn serving residents and helping in offices.
Each year the Volunteen Program recognizes outstanding participants: Volunteens of the Year for 2013 were Megan Mathes, Indirect Care Volunteen of the Year; Dara Colvin, Direct Care Volunteen of the Year; and Shyla Carswell, Exceptional Equestrians Volunteen of the Year. Susan Pitts, staff pharmacist, was named as the Supervisor of the Year. Kira Good was the Jason Hudson Award winner for 2013.
Marsha Riddle was the speaker at the recognition program that she started many years earlier. She praised the teens for making the choice to volunteer at the Riddle Center. She reminded them of a legacy they share with so many other teens across the 50 summers it took to get to 2013 from its beginning. Like those early teens, they will never be forgotten by the people they served.
Every teen was recognized with a certificate for being a Volunteen. Volunteens for the 2013 Summer Program were: Casey Abee, Levi Andrews, Lauren Arney, Wyatt Austin, Leah Baker, Staci Banks, Josie Beam, Brian Black, Kacie Bowman, Trevor Buchanan, Bennett Carroll, Macy Carswell, Shyla Carswell, Bethany Collier, Dara Colvin, Devon Connelly, Tory Cook, Emily Corn, CC Davenport, Jasmine Davenport, Kelsie Driesenga, Sydnie Driesenga, Caitlyn Eggers, Mae Fensterer, Kaylen Forney, Katie Gaspar, Kira Good, Daivon Griffin, Jessica Hardee, Kate Hughes, Andrew Hurley, Sierra Hurley, Lacey Johnson, Reid Kincaid, Heather Lashinski, Andrea Lingerfelt, Haven Massey, Megan Mathes, Alex McCurry, Emily Nickell, Sam Nix, Eli Patton, Alexis Penley, Madison Penley, Savannah Piercy, Leann Reed, Alayjah Robbins, Allie South, Megan Tallent, Ryan Tanner, Cassie Teague, Lakan Weaver, Philomena Weinberg and Wes Wright.
The Volunteen Program is sponsored by J Iverson Riddle Developmental Center. It is an eight week summer volunteer program open to rising seventh graders through rising seniors. Applications for the 2014 Summer Program will be available in late February. Call 828-433-2604 for more information.