Polk County locals receive prestigious award from NC Governor

Published 12:31 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023

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Award recognizes excellence in volunteerism

COLUMBUS-At the Polk County Board of Commissioners meeting on Monday, three Polk citizens County were recognized with the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award.

Sophia Lilly, Don Dicey and Dr. Warren J. Carson all received the honor.

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The award was created by the Office of the Governor in 1979 and honors those “who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by making a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service.” The North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service announced the 2023 winners in May of this year. 

Sofia Lilly established the Young Farmers and Ranchers Program, which offers mentorship for local youth to inspire young people to consider a career in farming. Lilly also volunteers in Polk’s elementary schools, has hosted a blood drive, teaches farm safety and hosts school field trips to her farm. 

“Ms. Lilly is a tremendous example of Polk County’s values and leadership, and a worthy recipient of this award,” said Ronette Dill, Polk County Schools Grants & Services Coordinator.

Don Dicey has volunteered with Conserving Carolina for eight years and works to help manage non-native and invasive plants in Polk County. 

“Mr. Dicey is passionate and positive about restoring native habitat and his service has significantly impacted and expanded the efforts of Conserving Carolina to fulfill their mission to protect, restore and inspire appreciation of the natural world,” Dill said.

The final and most decorated winner was Dr. Warren J. Carson, who was also given the Governor’s Medallion Award for volunteerism at a ceremony in Raleigh on May 8. Carson has served as President of the Roseland Community Center for nearly 30 years and volunteered on ten different boards in Polk County. Much of his work focuses on the African-American community to ensure equity for youth, adults and seniors.

“Thank you for all that you’ve done,” Chairman Tommy Melton said, expressing his gratitude for the winners. “We thank everyone. Thank you very, very much.”

Citizens are nominated for the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award by peers in their community. This year’s winners were nominated by Cathey C. Stoney, Pam Torlina and Dr. Joseph Fox.