The Letcher County Chamber of Commerce recently honored four men and five women for their continuing work as community volunteers.
The “Unsung Heroes” awards were presented at a reception held June 10 at Pine Mountain Grill in Whitesburg. The recipients were selected from nominations submitted by the public to the Chamber of Commerce.
Volunteers honored were:
• Ted Adams, director of the bus outreach program at Jeremiah Missionary Baptist Church.
Adams was presented with a plaque by Rev. Elwood Cornett, chairman of the Letcher County Planning Committee.
“There’s a lot of facilities and ballparks and those kinds of things scattered around the county and an amazing number of those have Ted Adams’s fingerprints on them one way or another,” said Cornett.
Cornett said Adams has been involved with parks and fields at the Letcher School campus, the Letcher County park across from the Whitesburg hospital, the park next to Kingdom Come School, and a football field at Calvary College.
Cornett said over the years Adams has held several leadership rolls in the Jaycees.
Cornett said Adams has assisted people in finding programs to help them such as heating their homes or getting food. Adams has recently joined with H.O.M.E.S. Inc. (Housing Oriented Ministries Established for Service) to provide housing for elderly people.
“He has been involved in a drug detox program using electrical currents to help people get off drugs,” said Cornett.
Cornett said Adams is very involved in his church.
Adams said he has found a wonderful opportunity to do what the Lord has asked him to do.
“I’m just a country boy who loves the Lord,” said Adams.
• Shirley Breeding, retired teacher from the Letcher County School System.
Danna Richardson, a retired school teacher and operator of a family business in Letcher County, said Breeding continues to demonstrate the appreciation of knowledge and the fact that every day is a learning experience.
“She encourages each person she comes in contact with to seek new goals and improve on talents that individuals already possess,” said Richardson.
Richardson said Breeding is a faithful member of the Isom Presbyterian Church and could be described as the cornerstone of the church. She is a member of the Women’s Circle, choir director, plays the piano for worship services, and attends prayer study each week.
Breeding has been involved with the Letcher County Food Pantry since its inception.
“She encourages support of those who are in need from organizations and individuals throughout the county,” said Richardson.
Breeding is a member of the Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital Auxiliary and makes all of the pillows, which the auxiliary provides to surgical patients.
“She cuts, sews, stuffs and has each one stamped with the auxiliary name,” said Richardson.
Richardson said Breeding is a vital member of the Home Health Advisory Board at Whitesburg ARH.
Breeding’s husband, James, is a resident at the Eastern Kentucky Veterans Center.
“She makes numerous trips to visit him each week,” said Richardson. “She also transports the wife of another resident when she visits.”
Richardson said Breeding is involved in activities throughout Letcher County.
“When she sees a community need, she is willing to speak with appropriate authorities to see if a need can be fulfilled,” said Richardson. “She also lends support in any community activity that is taking place.”
Richardson said Breeding is a wonderful neighbor and friend who takes food when someone is ill.
“She offers support in death. She sends cards of support and is ever conscious of the needs of others,” said Richardson.
Richardson said Breeding gives freely and openly of herself.
“Her faith and her prayer life are strong and she is always thinking of others,” said Richardson.
Breeding said there are lots of unsung heroes in Letcher County.
“What a privilege to be honored for what the Lord tells you to do,” said Breeding.
• Sarah Tackett Brown, chairperson of the Blighted/Deteriorated/ Nuisance Committee for the City of Jenkins.
D. Charles Dixon, mayor of Jenkins, said Brown is active in church, school and community activities.
Brown was the co-chair of a citywide cleanup last year which had 50 participants who collected more than 300 bags of litter in one day.
Brown takes photographs of blighted, deteriorated and nuisance property for the Jenkins city attorney.
Brown visited a local grade school and taught students about the importance of recycling. She took a course through Eastern Kentucky University on grant writing.
“This would be a great asset to the city in trying to receive additional funds for various projects,” said Dixon.
Dixon said Brown is very active at Burdine Elementary School as a member of the Parent Teacher Association (P.T.A.) and in helping the school during the Commonwealth Accountability Testing System (CATS) testing period.
“Sarah is making a difference in her community,” said Dixon.
“What we are doing over there, we are doing as a community,” said Brown.
• Joanna Gerhardt, Christian missionary.
Gerhardt moved to Letcher County 38 years ago from Philadelphia, Penn., on the request of Camp Nathaneal through Bible Centered Ministries.
Jim Elswick said Gerhardt is mainly known for her puppet ministry in Letcher County.
“Thousands and thousands of kids have benefited from Joanna,” said Elswick. “She was like a second mother to my girls.”
Gerhardt has taught schoolchildren moral principles through singing, puppet shows, skits and stories.
She has conducted many Vacation Bible Schools, leads teacher training sessions and teaches Sunday School.
Gerhardt recruits and provides transportation to Camp Nathaneal in the summertime.
She teachers five Bible Clubs for about 90 children each week.
Gerhardt sings in her church and at funerals. She also drives a church van.
“The thing I am so appreciative of is that you guys accepted me,” said Gerhardt. “That was the thing I was most fearful of. Thank you all for giving me the opportunity to serve in your area.”
• Stanley Gibson, retired coal miner.
“Stanley Gibson is a man like no other,” said his daughter, Angie Gibson. “What I can say about my dad is that he is a very hard worker.”
Angie Gibson said her father was instrumental in organizing a mine rescue team for Mine 25.
Gibson helped build shelters at the Payne Gap Lake and at McRoberts Elementary School. He cuts grass at the McRoberts Community Center and at the Church of Jesus located at McRoberts.
He purchased teddy bears that he gave to children at the Whitesburg hospital during Christmas time.
Gibson dressed up as the Headless Horseman on Halloween. He is involved with youth basketball at Fleming-Neon and youth baseball at Goose Creek.
Gibson is involved with the McRoberts Reunion and Jenkins Days at the Riverside Park in Whitesburg.
Gibson picks up trash several times a year at McRoberts.
“He asks nothing in return,” said Angie Gibson. “He does everything from the heart.”
Angie Gibson said he takes neighbors to run errands and has even taken neighbors’ pets to the veterinarian.
“This is very special to me,” said Stanley Gibson. “It does not take education to help out in your community.”
• Bishop Willie L. Lamb, pastor of The Church of God Militant Pillar and Ground of Truth in McRoberts.
Bishop Lamb, who was born and reared in Letcher County, has done approximately 1,000 baptisms as well as many weddings, baby christenings, dedications and funerals.
Bishop Lamb, a former coal miner, has been the chaplain for Jenkins Community Hospital and Pikeville Medical Center. He has served on the board for Jenkins Community Hospital.
Joe DePriest, a member of the Letcher County Chamber of Commerce, described Bishop Lamb as tender, kind and compassionate.
DePriest said Bishop Lamb is a believer in conversation and he gives his word and keeps his word.
“I love people,” said Bishop Lamb. “People helped to make me what I am today. I have compassion for people.”
• Geraldine McDonald, house nurse coordinator at Whitesburg Appalachian Regional Hospital.
“She has spent her life putting other people’s needs before her own,” said Ellen Wright, community chief executive officer of Whitesburg ARH.
Wright said McDonald is well respected by her staff, peers and other departments within the hospital.
“She is lovingly called ‘The General’ because she has such an efficient management style,” said Wright. “Quality patient care has always been the driving force of Geraldine’s professional style. She goes the extra mile to provide quality patient care.”
McDonald is an active member of the Whitesburg First Baptist Church.
Wright said McDonald has been instrumental in bringing the Angel Food Ministry Project to Letcher County. McDonald assists in distributing order information each month and in distributing the food once it arrives at the First Baptist Church in Whitesburg.
McDonald is the director of the Letcher County Food Pantry.
“They serve over 100 families a month and she has developed a tremendous roster of service volunteers,” said Wright.
Wright said McDonald has provided quality service to many and continues to expand her volunteer services.
“It’s really fortunate when you can spend your life doing what you love to do,” said McDonald.
• Alberta Perry, chairperson of Letcher County Relay for Life of the American Cancer Society.
Doris Banks, a member of the Letcher County Relay for Life Committee, said Perry does much more than chairpersons normally do, which is taking up money and giving orders.
Banks said Perry spends countless hours holding meetings to recruit new teams. She makes herself available to assist the 19 Letcher County Relay for Life teams in raising money.
Banks said Perry is known for saying, “It’s all about raising money.”
Perry involves her family in raising money for Relay for Life and has them save milk jugs, which all of the schools decorate and fill with change.
Banks said the schools were so successful with raising money with the milk jugs that she had her family save more jugs and she encouraged the senior citizens centers to do the same.
Perry orchestrated a Golden Girls pageant and a radio-a-thon. She also painted the town purple by helping to sell purple bows for $10 each to businesses and residences.
Perry came up the idea of putting a large cow made of chicken wire, 2×4’s and newspaper in front of businesses and houses to raise more money for Relay for Life. Participants paid money to have Myrtle the Cow moved from place to place. Perry helped move that cow all over the county the whole month of May. Myrtle was moved 52 times.
Letcher County Relay for Life raised $70,015.19 this year and Perry won’t be satisfied until it reaches $100,000.
Perry volunteers her time helping the Pawz and Clawz Humane Society and Neon Days.
“If she believes in something, she will go to bat for it and will never give up,” said Banks. “If she likes you, the sky is the limit.”
“If you believe in something you are willing to fight the fight and ask others to help you,” said Perry.
• Jimmy Polly, member of the Jenkins Planning Committee.
D. Charles Dixon, mayor of Jenkins, said Polly has been an active member of the Jenkins community.
“Since I came into office, his help has been a lifesaver,” said Dixon. “He has been very active in trying to secure an assisted living facility for our seniors. Jimmy is also working for additional lands from TECO for a business park off US 23.”
Polly is chairman of the Old Jenkins School Committee and has worked on grants to help restore the school.
“He chaired a sit-down dinner to raise money for the old school,” said Dixon. “The dinner was a seven-course one with waiters serving the different courses.”
Polly has also helped write grants for the Jenkins Police Department. He visited Burdine Elementary School and taught students how to recycle.
Dixon said Polly is active in his church.
“I am a firm believer that you can either complain about something or do something to make it better,” said Polly.