By Debbie Dibble
What is a volunteer? What does that word mean to you? What emotions or thoughts does that word invoke when you hear it?
As I contemplate what it means to be a volunteer, I am immediately reminded of my time in Tennessee, a state that prides itself and, quite frankly, defines itself on the concept of volunteerism.
The University of Tennessee adopted the name Volunteers, or more commonly Vols, because of a now-official nickname that the state of Tennessee received during the War of 1812, “The Volunteer State.” The name became even more prominent during the Mexican-American War when Governor Aaron V. Brown issued a call for 2,800 men to battle Santa Ana and some 30,000 Tennesseans volunteered.
My baptism to this Tennessee badge of honor came while I was an official court reporter at the district courthouse in downtown Somerville, Fayette County, Tenn. While wandering through the courtyard I came upon an historical marker dedicated to Davy Crockett. For me, Davy Crocket was inspiration to wear a coonskin cap and sing a ballad … “kilt him a b’ar when he was only three.” What a life-altering revelation to come to understand the true greatness of this man. Crockett, a one-time U.S. Representative from Tennessee, famously set off for the Alamo volunteering to fight, a decision that would ultimately cost him his life. That one selfless act almost 200 years ago is just as meaningful today, as schoolchildren across the country are still taught of the exploits of Davy Crockett.
As a side note, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the very county where this statue resides was named after Marquis de Lafayette, a French hero of the American Revolution, a volunteer who traversed the Atlantic Ocean to be of service to those in need. Yet another tribute to Tennessee’s exemplary history of volunteerism.
Volunteers come in all sizes, shapes, and volumes as they contribute their talents, resources, passions, energies, whatever skills they may possess to effect changes wherever change is needed. These heroes range from those who share what they can to those who sacrifice much of or even all their free time. There are numerous examples within our beloved profession of volunteers’ exhaustive dedication and devotion, but let’s get started with a few Public Displays of Appreciation, highlighting the legendary tales of the superstar volunteers of NCRA.
So many volunteer nominations were received, and the element of surprise restricts getting a full resume from these amazing individuals, so please know that real estate in the magazine is confined and this will be a short list of volunteers as well as a snippet of the amazing work that is being done. Please reach out to them, thank them for their efforts, and learn how much more they contribute than can be displayed here. And keep the information coming as we campaign for a sequel to keep these Public Displays of Appreciation ongoing!
To read about our honored volunteers and to view the full text of this article, NCRA members can use their membership credentials to log into the April 2023 issue of the online JCR Magazine.
JCR Contributing Editor Debbie Dibble, RDR, CRR, CRC, of Salt Lake City, Utah, is NCRA’s Immediate Past President. She can be reached at email@example.com.