The Haven honors history with two awards

35 years ago, Jeanette Coody, a Levi-Strauss Foundation representative, had two weeks to spend $40,000. If the money wasn’t spent by Nov. 1, the fiscal year’s end, it would have been lost.

For that, The Haven introduced two annual awards, the Jeanette Coody Community Service Award and the Kaye Smith Volunteer of the Year Award.

On Oct. 27, Michael Smith, Greater Valdosta United Way executive director, and Markeshia Jordan, former Haven intern, received the 2020 awards. 

“They’re (The Haven) one of the best charities, but they’re also one of the best-run organizations that (United Way) deals with,” Smith said. “They do so much good in the community in helping women heal and recover that it makes it easy to promote them, and promote community.”

He said now more than ever, we need to live united to “heal the sins of the past.”

“But then also the new normal that we find ourselves in with COVID-19 and the economic issues,” he said. “There are a lot of people who’re suffering and everybody can help a little bit.”

Kaye Smith did that with The Haven and continues doing.

“It shows how important volunteers are to this organization,” Kaye Smith said. “We have staff, but we always need volunteers and they help in so many ways.”

Jordan was excited to receive Kaye Smith’s award. Working as The Haven’s intern was a standout among the internships she’s taken. The organization carries the same values as she does in becoming a social worker.

“This award showed me the hard work that I put in, the heartfelt (energy),” Jordan said. “I had a passion for working with The Haven. It just showed that everything that I did paid off.”

The CARES committee, an elected conglomerate of their peers, chose this year’s recipients of the awards, said Michelle Girtman, executive director.

The officials of the committee decided what volunteer they saw was instrumental and did the most work with The Haven.

“Although I see what a lot of the community partners do for The Haven, and there are a lot of community partners that do a lot for (it) over the year, the employees see a different side of what a community choice award means,” Girtman said.

United Way’s greatest representation of community service is the Day of Caring.

The United Way brought volunteers to the facility this year to provide some maintenance work to The Haven. United Way also left a food pantry box out front, allowing people who might need it to get some food.

“United Way is different,” Girtman said. “We get to have community involvement through them while we don’t have it any other time of the year.”

Source: Valdosta Daily Times “The Haven honors history with two awards” Article.

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