Wake County is sponsoring the ONEWake Volunteer Recognition Awards to recognize and celebrate the county’s most dedicated and active citizen and employee volunteers who make a difference in the lives of others and help make Wake County the best place to live, work, learn and play.

The ONEWake Volunteer Recognition Awards celebrate people who tirelessly share their time and talent with those in need throughout the county. The honorees include Wake County citizens and employees who either volunteered directly for a department within Wake County Government or is a current county employee who volunteered with any organization in 2017.

Youth Citizens Category

Christina Williams
While helping young children strengthen their reading and comprehension skills at Southeast Regional Library, Christina learned that many children in her neighborhood don’t have access to books or the internet at home. In response, she organized a book donation drive and won first place in an American Library Association poetry contest to receive a trip to Washington D.C., were she met with legislators to discuss the importance of community libraries and high-speed internet access for all. 

She also volunteered more than 250 hours in 2017 at the SPCA in Wake County, where she cares for the animals and facilities and supports new volunteers. She also spearheaded a pet supply donation drive and, in the wake of Hurricane Irma, created a PSA about the need for emergency pet kits.

Christina also volunteers for Meals on Wheels of Wake County, where she enjoys delivering meals to homebound senior citizens. She takes the time during each delivery to talk with these seniors, and often picks up a second route on days when there aren’t enough volunteers.

Adult Citizen Category

Gene Cross
Retired from the N.C. Department of Agriculture, Gene paired his considerable knowledge of gardening with his passion for helping others to help develop the Community Connections Garden in Wake Forest. Under Gene’s leadership, the garden produced more than 7,500 pounds of fresh produce in 2017, most of which was delivered to a local food bank. 

He is also giving back through ChurchNet, a non-profit initiative that works directly with families that are behind on utility bills or unable to pay for their medications. As president of ChurchNet, Gene has assembled a collective of local faith-based organizations that assist about 400 families each year who would otherwise not be able to receive assistance. 

In addition, Gene has served for the past six years as a key member of the Northern Regional Center’s Community Advocacy Committee

Dr. Gerri Mattson
Despite her very demanding job as the State Pediatric Medical Consultant, Dr. Mattson has made time each week for the past 12 years to care for children at the Wake County Human Services Child Health Clinic. During her time at the clinic, Dr. Mattson provides children with preventive and acute health care, as well as condition management for children with long-term illnesses.

Because of her volunteer efforts, the Child Health Clinic has broadened its reach and can accommodate more patients each week. Her work ensures that even more of the county’s most vulnerable residents have access vital medical services and quality health care. She also serves as an invaluable resource to clinic staff, particularly regarding public health issues at the state level.

Christine Becker
Christine volunteers hundreds of hours each year at the Wake County Animal Control and Adoption Center and is considered a volunteer champion by the Animal Center staff. She walks dogs and leads the center’s Playing for Life play groups, which offer the dogs a much-needed outlet for stress and anxiety and provides information about each dog that helps with successful placement in rescue, foster and adoption. 

Chris is also a founding member and current board member for the non-profit Friends of Wake County, which raises money to assist animals at the Animal Center. The group provides funding to treat heartworm positive dogs once they are adopted, literally saving lives by helping animals who may otherwise have been euthanized find their forever homes.

Employees Category

Dr. Renee Johnson
More than 20 years ago, Dr. Johnson co-founded Pieces of a Dream Outreach to address the issues faced by those experiencing homelessness in Raleigh and surrounding communities. Through partnerships with local business, Pieces of a Dream has expanded over the years to offer work readiness and at-risk youth programs and operate a battered women’s shelter.

She also serves as a mentor for young women throughout the community and works at the South Wilmington Street Men's Shelter, where she helps connect shelter clients with housing assistance and employment services. 

Donna Jenkins
Through her work with Meals on Wheels, Donna not only delivers nutritious meals to senior citizens who may not have consistent access to fresh food, Donna often provides the only contact a senior may have with another person for days. 

At God's Helpers Soup Kitchen, Donna helps prepare breakfast to those in need of a warm meal, a kind smile and a word of encouragement. She also uses her knowledge of Wake County’s available resources to serve as a referral source for those in need of other services.

Donna also volunteered to be the official wellness advocate for the Finance Department, coordinating several activities to help keep employees active during the day and promoting other wellness opportunities. 

Learn more about volunteering in Wake County and how you can make a real difference in just ONE hour or ONE day.