Harvey Karsevar Award Award of Excellence Outstanding Financial Contributor (Organization) Outstanding Financial Contributor (Individuals) Outstanding Greenway Volunteer Outstanding Adopt-A-Park Volunteer Outstanding Volunteer Group Outstanding Park Volunteer Outstanding Teen Volunteer Outstanding Program Volunteer Outstanding Project Volunteer Outstanding Specialized Recreation Program Volunteer Outstanding Cultural Resources Volunteer Outstanding Adult Program Volunteer Outstanding Athletic Volunteer
The Fred Fletcher Outstanding Volunteer Awards honor the volunteers who have made outstanding contributions to the programs and services offered by the Department. Browse the 2021 Award Recipients below.
In acknowledgment of the late Coach Harvey Karsevar, the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Resources- Athletics Program would like to congratulate Mr. Greg Allen for being the 2021 Harvey Karservar Award recipient.
As this year’s award recipient, Mr. Allen has embodied the lasting legacy left by Mr. Karservar. During his 13 years of coaching youth basketball, this dedicated coach, husband, and father of two has provided many exceptional experiences to youth participants and families of all ages. Impressively, he has coached in almost every age group within the basketball program from Mini-Mite (age 7-8) through Senior Boys (age 15-17). Throughout each journey, he has stressed teaching fundamentals and impacting lives in each stage of his player’s basketball development.
Though coaching success can often be measured by the number of wins and championships achieved, Mr. Allen often measures his success through the positive interactions he has with his players regardless of the season’s outcome. Furthermore, his enjoyment derives from having the opportunity to coach athletes of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds and observe their growth, both athletically and personally, from season to season. This was never more evident than the growth and maturation of his 2019-2020 Warriors Senior Boys basketball team, which went on to finish undefeated; winning 1st Place and a regular-season championship. He believes that particular team was special of where they started when he first took over as coach in the 2017-2018 season. After finishing in 5th place that season, his team made a steady climb to 2nd place in the 2018-2019 season. The constant improvement, which eventually led to an undefeated season, was one of his greatest accomplishments because of how the team stayed together, came to practice, and continued to improve on their skills from season to season. However, though his team won a lot of games, he was most proud of the fact that a few of the players on that team have since graduated high school and have gone on to live their adult lives and will hopefully return to serve at some point in their futures.
Whether it is with his interactions with his players, families, or staff, he has demonstrated the characteristics of a true leader; instilling the importance of personal growth, commitment, teamwork, and service. He is always a joy to see when he walks into the gym; always greeting others with a smile and an encouraging word or two. His positive energy is felt by the staff and his fellow coaches. His leadership has and will continue to inspire others, of all ages, and truly exemplifies what Mr. Karsevar’s legacy means to this program.
Donna has been volunteering with the City of Raleigh since 2017. Starting out with one-time park maintenance projects she later decided to become a part of multiple long-term programs throughout her years volunteering with Raleigh Parks Recreation and Cultural Resources.
In 2019 she also joined our Raleigh Rose Garden Volunteer Program which requires volunteers to adopt rose beds and deadhead them once a week May – November and attend the cutbacks in December and February. Then in 2020 she also adopted Raymond G Lanier Park (formally Dupont Circle or Boylan Heights) as the new point of contact of our Boylan Heights Neighbors Adopt- A- Park group that has been with us since 2015. In addition to the two programs above, Donna has signed up for our newest Garden Program at Dorothea Dix Park and will be integral in helping us develop it.
Ms. Wooster is such a pleasure to work with and very hardworking. Over the many places she has lived she feels that Raleigh is the only place that has ever felt like home and all her hard work spent through volunteering in Raleigh’s parks and gardens show that. She cares deeply for this community and is always looking for ways to give back. From an episodic volunteer to joining three of our ongoing programs, she actively shows her commitment to this City and our parks. The Parks staff are always excited to see her name on a signup sheet because they know she is truly there to help them meet their goals and for her love of the parks.
Nominated by: Edwin Henderson, Natural Resources and Parks Crew Supervisor
Southeast Raleigh Rotary Club and Rotary Club of Raleigh
This past year the Rotary Club of Raleigh partnered with the newly established Southeast Raleigh Rotary Club to donate park enhancement funds to Levelle Moton Park and planned two workdays where they volunteered to accomplish those enhancements. When they heard about Lane St. being renamed and dedicated to Levelle Moton, they wanted to help since they knew how much that park is utilized by the local community.
The Rotary Clubs’ donations provided 100 yards of certified woodchips for the playground, 600 Daffodil and Tulip bulbs, a new park bench, and 150 plants and plugs that were installed to freshen up the landscape bed. With the help of both clubs, we were able to provide a safe playing surface for the playground and add a new perennial garden to the park. Both groups worked extremely hard to complete the projects while following COVID-19 restrictions.
Nominated by Michael DaGrosa, Playground Operations Crew Supervisor
John and Susan Harmer
John and Susan have been hiking at Durant for many, many years and consider it one of their favorite "go-to parks". As such, the Harmers have been so moved to generously donate to Durant. Every December for the past five years, a check for Durant has been dropped off so that staff can move forward with projects aimed at enhancing our visitor’s experiences such as improving our trails and gardens, adding interpretive signage, or creating wildlife/educational opportunities through the addition of bluebird and wood duck boxes -- just to name a few examples!
This year, with all the damage done by the February storm, combined with budget constraints fueled by a severe reduction in revenue from our typical pre-COVID revenue-generating activities, John and Susan's donation could not have come at a more opportune time. The Harmer's continued support of a park they love is a gift that gives to thousands of others.
Because of their financial contributions, we are able to offer unique self-guided interpretive enhancements and increased accessibility through trail improvements and wildlife viewing opportunities that can be enjoyed by all of our visitors which, in these times of stressful change and uncertainty, are helping us all improve our physical and mental wellbeing!.
Nominated by: Amy Eckberg, Park Manager at Durant and Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserves
Mr. Gordon Keehn has been a member of the Raleigh Police Department's Greenway Volunteer Program since 2012. He uses the greenways on a regular basis keeping an eye out for problems on the trails whether they be physical conditions or issues requiring the police. He is also an asset for Parks and Recreation providing trail users with directions and trail information. Mr. Keehn utilizes many of the different greenways and assists with trail maintenance through the See, Click, Fix APP and by independently removing impediments on the various trails. He is very approachable and maintains a kind and pleasant nature.
Gordon has logged a total of 3,940 hours volunteering on the Raleigh Greenways since the program started in June of 2012. This is only 60 hours short of the Lifetime Volunteer Achievement Award from Points of Light. He donated 2,925 hours in the past 5 years. He did not even let the 2020 pandemic slow him down. Even with the current suspension of the RPD Greenway Volunteer program, he continued to volunteer and walk almost daily. Gordon has been a model for others wishing to volunteer. His commitment to the program is exemplary as is his demeanor.
Nominated by: Bruce Embry, RPD Volunteer Coordinator
The McCrary Family
Since the summer of 2018, the McCrary Family has tremendously and selflessly given their time, expertise, and infectiously good cheer. They have volunteered at Durant and Horseshoe Farm almost every Friday and Saturday since they signed up to be a part of the Adopt-A-Park Program.
Since then, the McCrary’s have tackled several major Natural Resource Management projects throughout the preserves. George, Carol, and Samantha have made tremendous headway in helping staff map the myriad of invasive species that are present throughout Durant Nature Preserve. Since initial mapping, they have gotten 8 acres of Chinese Wisteria mapped and approximately 90% of all the Autumn Olive across Durant mapped.
They have also helped with costume design and manufacturing to support programming. Thanks to their efforts and creativity, Durant Nature Preserve is now the proud owner of an adult-sized praying mantis costume, two deer costumes, and a green anole costume that staff and volunteers can wear during environmental education programs for children and families.
The McCrary family has volunteered a total of 390.5 hours of their time to help map and remove invasive species, create original and authentic programming costumes, and to protect the natural resources of Durant and Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserves. Through the efforts of exceptional volunteers like the McCrary Family, the Preserve staff is able to provide an exceptional experience to our local community.
Nominated by: Jason Kiser, Durant and Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve Assistant Park Manager
Girl Scout Troop 14 (Charlotte Pare, Zara Tekmen, Grace Mumford, Skyler Clarin)
Charlotte Pare, Grace Mumford, Skyler Clarin, and Zara Tekmen are all a part of Girl Scout Troop 14. These middle school Girl Scouts worked towards their Silver Award by completing a project that would benefit the habitat at Durant Nature Preserve.
They knew that litter was a common problem in the park and understood the devastating effects it can have on the environment. In addition, many patrons were not paying attention to the recycling and trash receptacles, and trash was ending up in recycling bins, which would then need to be thrown away. For that reason, the Girl Scouts created the idea to draw more attention to our recycling bins, as well as educate patrons on how to reduce, reuse, and recycle. The Scouts were responsible for creating the designs for the recycling bins, signage to instruct users where to recycle, as well as an infographic to further educate park patrons.
Even though they were facing the struggles that the worldwide pandemic brought, the Scouts worked together over the past year to complete the paintings and signs. All while adhering to the CDC guidelines, they created a supply list and budget, had to troubleshoot how to get paint to adhere to the cans, research best practices for reducing, reusing, and recycling for the infographic.
Their communication was excellent throughout the year, despite having minimal time face-to-face. Two things 2020 required were patience and perseverance, and the Scouts exemplified both of those qualities. They did a wonderful job with their artwork on the cans, as well as their educational message to patrons.
Nominated by: Sara Steffen, Assistant Manager Durant and Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve
Since he first expressed interest in volunteering at Durant in January 2019, David has volunteered almost every week for a total of 206.5 hours. Every Friday morning, visitors to Durant Nature Preserve are likely to see David in his volunteer vest, hard at work carting wheelbarrow loads of gravel across the park, knee-deep in weeds in the garden, or mulching along the paths and raised beds. He has proven an incredible asset over the past couple of years, tackling major one-time projects and taking on responsibility for ongoing maintenance and beautification efforts. His dedication to caring for our preserve has been invaluable.
David's previous volunteer work at the JC Raulston Arboretum equipped him with a background in gardening that has benefited us greatly. He has become a primary caretaker for Durants gardens, almost single-handedly maintaining them this past year. He has also helped remove invasive species that are prevalent throughout the preserve, working with a work-study student to dig up over two acres of Autumn Olive so our native species can flourish. David is always ready to step in whenever staff is in need of help with special projects. It speaks volumes to his character that he has been flexible and eager to pitch in even on incredibly tough jobs.
His ability to single-handedly complete multiple projects has freed up staff to focus on other endeavors. He works both hard and smart, and we know he can handle anything we throw his way. A dedicated, dependable volunteer like David is crucial to allowing Preserve staff to provide exceptional experiences to our patrons. The staff is incredibly fortunate to have him volunteering at the parks.
Nominated by: Jason Kiser Durant and Horseshoe Farm Nature Preserve Assistant Park Manager
Sam Henderson became a member of the Raleigh Youth Council (RYC) at the start of his freshman year. He entered the council with an amazing spirit full of fresh ideas, dedication, and leadership. Sam currently holds the position of Executive Board Chair with the RYC.
In addition to being a leader within the council, Sam has shown a tremendous amount of dedication to serving his community. He has completed over 70 hours for his community while also leading his peers. Sam has continued to find ways to serve his community through volunteerism even during COVID-19 with many restrictions in place. He has written encouraging letters to healthcare professionals and children in hospitals as well as volunteered at a Trunk or Treat event. Sam’s participation in service has been very diverse in type and spans across several demographics.
He encourages others to sign up for the community service events and participate. Sam is responsible. In the council, there have been instances where members need additional support and supervision at our community service events and I have been able to rely on Sam to be a positive role model in those situations. Sam is also very adaptable. He works well with diverse groups in a variety of community service settings.
Samuel Henderson is a young man who is actively serving his community. His giving personality and willingness to serve speaks wonders about the type of man he is destined to become. Sam has been such a valuable asset to the council and has set the bar for the incoming Chair extremely high.
Nominated by: Carmen Myles, Teen Programs Manager
Marcella S. Rorie
Marcella S. Rorie has been volunteering with Carolina Pines Community Center for seven years providing an exceptional experience to the citizens of Raleigh. There are some people that you meet, and you don't know why but you are grateful. Ms. Marcella is one of those persons. In the unknown world of COVID, many events had to get creative with how to move forward. When the Community Center reached out to Ms. Rorie, she was ready to volunteer even though she doesn’t even have children in any of the programs. She is a dedicated volunteer to the center.
When she first reached out about Volunteer Opportunities, she was informed about two annual events, the Egg Hunt and Fall Carnival. She said, "Sign me up for both." Ms. Marcella has expressed that volunteering is her outlet for fun that, it is an opportunity to watch kids and parents play and win prizes. She has become a true asset to the Carolina Pines family because she now brings her niece to help as well.
The staff loves her energy and spirit for each event. She is always ready to lend a hand and has a work ethic that is unbelievable. Even more, she has become a promoter of not just Carolina Pines events and programs, but she shares with family and co-workers about City of Raleigh programs and camps.
We appreciate and thank Ms. Marcella Rorie for all her years of service and friendship to the Carolina Pines Community. We are thankful for her continued service.
Nominated by: Tonya Henderson and Nickey Brewster, Facility Supervisors Carolina Pines Community Center
Wilkerson Nature Preserve was, until 2006, a cow farm. It had been a farm for over 100 years which meant there was a tremendous amount of old, rusty, tangled barbed wire fencing left behind throughout the Preserve's forests. Old tangles of barbed wire can be dangerous to wildlife -- or to people. No nature preserve wants old barbed wire -- but removing old barbed wire is hard. The wire must be untangled from trees and roots, cut into short sections with wire cutters, and then dragged long distances out of the forest to where a vehicle can reach it to take it away.
One day when Sam was visiting the Preserve, he saw the barbed wire and approached staff offering to volunteer his time to help remove this hazard. He was dedicated and stated that he would return to the Preserve as many times as it took and invite as many friends as he could to help remove it all. In January and February of 2020, over 1,800 yards of barbed wire were removed from Wilkerson Nature Preserve. Many people contributed to this work, but Sam Hershey was the key volunteer organizer who initiated this effort and helped recruit many additional volunteers. When COVID hit, Wilkerson Preserve was closed to the public and volunteer activities were suspended, but as soon as the Preserve was able to host volunteers again, Sam was back!
Though there is still work to be done, Sam has planned workdays with staff already to finish the rest. Removing over 2,000 yards of old, rusty, tangled, barbed wire from a forest is not a fun job. But Sam's initiative, cheerful volunteer spirit, and desire to help made it possible, and it has been one of the best things that have happened at Wilkerson Nature Preserve in 2020.
Nominated by: Bryan England, Park Manager Annie Louise Wilkerson Nature Preserve
Carisa has volunteered at our local Special Olympics school-based events for several years and 100+ hours under her belt. Every year, she shows up to all dates of our events, ready to work the awards tables, which at times, is the most chaotic volunteer assignment. She arrives early - and without being told - starts to set up the awards area. Sometimes bringing family members along, she has trained several other volunteers to work this station, she has stayed after the events are over to count ribbons, and she always keeps her cool during lines of athletes awaiting their award ceremony.
Carisa is passionate about Special Olympics and serving those around her, with no expectation of recognition. She is the type of volunteer who shows up with a smile, and does not have to be told how to help, she just jumps in! She is a quiet leader, asserting herself when necessary to make our events run the way they should.
Her help is never taken for granted as the staff is thankful Carisa has dedicated so much time to their department, and finds it quite fitting, after her awarding thousands of athletes – that they were able to turn the tables and award her.
Nominated by Christen Winstead, Program Manager
Ms. Wilson began volunteering with the Cultural Outreach and Enrichment Program (COE) in the spring of 2014 as an instructor. Since then, she has demonstrated what it means to be a committed, involved and contributive member of the Raleigh community. Beth is a warm and compassionate person who has devoted herself to the English as a Second Language (ESL) part of our program area. She empowers her students, helping them realize their potential as valued members of the community. Anyone who meets Beth cannot help but be encouraged, as her kind and inviting smile instantly makes everyone feel at ease.
Beth invests numerous hours in her lesson planning, taking extra time to use a variety of multimedia to enhance the learning experience in her classes. At the end of each 6-week session, she often creates special videos to acknowledge and recognize the efforts of her students. Her attention to detail and thoughtfulness are what make her an outstanding candidate for this award. Beth does not just teach people English; she helps them realize their value and worth as engaged members of the community.
Beth’s dedication to the COE Program and Raleigh Parks extends beyond the classroom. She is always willing to volunteer at special events in the community, helping the COE Program staff with informational and interactive booths. She has also worked with our other ESL instructors to develop content and materials for a virtual option for our ESL programs. This wouldn’t be possible without Beth’s leadership and passion. Her resolve to provide a platform for people in our community to find connection embodies the heart and soul of COE.
Nominated by: Lisa-Ann Utsumi, Cultural Outreach and Enrichment Program Coordinator
Mitzie Barnette and Leslie Cohen
Garden Corps is a gardening program bringing teens and older adults together to grow and garden. The goal of Garden Corps is to be an intergenerational garden and community service program that combines physical activity, garden education, nutrition education, youth community service, and fresh food access.
The 12-week program held at the Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina builds gardening knowledge in the classroom, reinforced by practice in a teaching garden, and culminating with nutrition and meal preparation in a teaching kitchen. From seed to plate, the program offers teens and adults alike the opportunity to grow, harvest, and prepare their own food. The Garden Corps program and the curriculum were compiled and designed by a collaborative effort through the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, Wake County Extension Master Gardeners, and the City of Raleigh.
Master Gardeners Leslie Cohen and Mitzie Barnette were the driving force behind the Garden Corps program. On their own time, Leslie and Mitzie spent countless hours compiling lesson plans, handouts, gardening tools, and other materials for each session of the 12-week program. On program meeting days Leslie and Mitzi were instrumental in delivering lessons to the teen participants. Leslie and Mitzie also assisted in recruiting other Master Gardeners that assisted with the program. Each of them was just as lively and engaging, keeping the program fun and educational.
Nominated by Todd Riddick, Active Adults Program Director
Since 2015, Coach Allen Puryear has been Volunteering his time through the City of Raleigh’s Recreation division. Since then, he has given us a great contribution of his time to our spring and fall youth softball leagues. Coach Allen has always been a friendly face who not only loves the game of softball but enjoys sharing that love with every player he comes across.
He teaches the importance of fundamentals (emphasis on "fun") and truly invests his time with players. Our motto, "Where sportsmanship redefines competition" is exuded in his teams, his coaching style, and his personality. There has not been a season, regardless of the team record, where he has not made a group of young athletes better softball players, and even better people.
He is extremely dedicated and has continued to coach for the Athletics Division well after his daughter aged out of our programs. Coach Allen truly knows the importance and impact of great sportsmanship and leadership as he embodies that every time he hits the field, whether it is in practice or in games. "Outstanding" is not enough to describe Coach Allen Puryear. He is knowledgeable, patient, kind, comical, and enthusiastic about youth softball and the service he provides to us as a volunteer softball coach. Coach Allen not only has a great rapport with his players but his team parents as well. They enjoy coaching style and development.
Nominated by: Raven Johnson- Athletics-Recreation Program Analyst