The Courier has been spotlighting the dedicated individuals and groups who were recently recognized for their service to others at this year’s United Way Volunteers of the Year awards ceremony on Sept. 26.
Long County resident James Fox Jr. was named youth volunteer of the year and Andrew Williams of Hinesville was named individual volunteer of the year. The Classy Ladies Social Club earned the social club of the year award.
“This diverse group of women is a true example of volunteerism,” United Way board member Kathryn Fox said of the club. “They are everywhere; United Way, food banks, homeless shelters, foster kids, Backpack Buddies, Toys for Tots, Dorchester Academy, Fort Stewart Warriors Wreaths and the list goes on and on. They are always looking for ways to assist those in need and always doing so with class.”
Youth volunteer of the year Fox helps tutor other students who have difficulty in reading and language comprehension, and coaches at-risk youth in the sport of Olympic weightlifting at the Shuman Center. He was also the face of Truman, the Kidsville News mascot.
Fox, a competitive weightlifter, earned a silver medal at the 2012 Junior Olympics in Texas, a silver medal in 2011 in New Orleans and a bronze medal in 2010 in Virginia.
The young man is ranked in the top five percent of his senior class at Long County High School.
“I want to be a neurosurgeon,” he said. “It’s not about the money.”
Fox said he wants to pursue a career where he can make a difference in people’s lives. His mother, Kathryn Fox, said her son is motivated to become a neurologist to discover ways to help others with learning disabilities which he himself overcame.
“When he started as Truman, he had no idea the impact that character had on area children, until he was meeting them first hand,” Kathryn Fox said. “It was the stories from the parents of learning disabled children and in particular a mother of an autistic child that told their story on how Kidsville News was a an important part of helping these children learn and communicate in a positive way.”
Fox’s mother said her son’s work with Toys for Tots helped him realize the economic need in the community, both civilian and military.
Andrew Williams, the United Way individual volunteer of the year, mentors adults and children and youthful first offenders.
“Me and my wife have actually been volunteering for years,” Williams said. “And part of it is because of our background. I grew up in a housing project in Greensboro, N.C. My desire was to never see young people go through what I went through growing up.”
“I grew up in a single-parent home,” Williams continued. “My parents divorced when I was in the first grade. There were times when there wasn’t much to eat. There were no male role models. We didn’t (have) the programs we are blessed to have in Liberty County.”
Williams is first vice president of Eleven Black Men of Liberty County, a mentoring organization. He is a youth leader and ordained elder at Connection Church, serves on the board of directors for the Frazier Family Foundation and CASA, has worked with Manna House and is event coordinator for Love-It-Productions.
When he’s not volunteering, Williams is busy pursuing a dual master’s degree in human resource management and leadership management at Webster University.
A quality assurance evaluator with the Directorate of Public Works on Fort Stewart, Williams was one of thousands of government workers furloughed by the government shutdown. He said he and his family are fine, adding they would be able to weather this “rainy day.”
He said would do what he could to help those hurt by the stalemate in Congress, should the shutdown continue and programs like WIC go unfunded.
“When you volunteer, it doesn’t always necessarily equate to money,” he said. “You give your time.”
Williams said he was honored to have received the United Way recognition and said he shares the honor with his wife, Margit. The couple will celebrate their 26th wedding anniversary on Oct. 15. The Williams have two daughters and one granddaughter.
“Volunteering is something that my wife and I have always done,” Williams said. “We wanted to give back and provide for the success of others. That’s where we get the most joy from, helping to make other people a success.”