South Carolina Department of Mental Health

2006 Volunteer of the Year Nominations

Individual Volunteer Nominees

Mike Masters
Nominated by Jerry Stewart/Yvonne Park
Coastal Empire Community Mental Health Center

Mike MastersMike Masters has been the Coastal Empire Community Mental Health Volunteer Coordinator since February 2004.  During his time here, he has recruited volunteers of all ages to help with many tasks throughout the center.

It is rare that we witness the longevity and breadth of volunteerism that Mike Masters personifies in his work as volunteer Coordinator for Coastal Empire Community Mental Health Center.  Out of his desire end the stigma associated with mental illness, he gives freely of his time, heart, and resources in any way that he can.  No task is too little or too big for him to tackle himself, and he is exceptionally adept at recruiting others to offer their time and energy for our growing causes.

Mike has a very real compassion for those who struggle with mental illness and their families who so often want to help but can find no avenue to do so.  He also recognizes that the more support that can be mustered for staff in negotiating their overfilled days, the more energy they can give to the consumers of mental health services.  His compassion for the mentally ill and his passion for doing what he can have led the staff of Coastal Empire Community Mental Health Center to call Mike Masters Our “Miracle Worker.”

Mildred J. Turpin
Nominated by Sandra Jamison
Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital

Mildred TurpinThe patient Clothing Closet is one of the most important projects for Volunteer Services at Harris Hospital because so many of our patients are admitted with only the clothes they are wearing, which are most often inappropriate.  Approximately 150 sets of clothing and 22 pairs of shoes are distributed to our patients monthly.

Mildred Turpin spends hours each week sorting, repairing, and sizing the clothing donated by the community.  When we are short on sizes, Mildred, at her own expense, drives to Interfaith Ministries in Belton, where she trades articles we do not need for sizes that are needed for our patients.  She also searches Good Will Stores in Anderson, spending vouchers for the needed sizes.  She then distributes the requested clothing to our patients.

Mildred has been making sure our patients have appropriate clothing since May of 2000.  In addition to taking care of their clothing needs, she is very willing to sit and talk with a troubled patient who needs a little TLC.  Her caring and compassionate way is evident as she helps our patients weather the storms in their lives, giving them a sense of worth, and making them feel special and loved.

Al Baier
Nominated by Maria Barrera
Tucker Center

Al BaierSpirit-led services and spirit-filled songs – that is what Al Baier delivers every first and third Sunday morning at Tucker Center.  For 15 years, he has faithfully provided church services for the residents of the Stone and Roddey pavilions.  Better known to our residents as the Guitar Man, Al is kind, caring and always smiling; the residents love him and look forward to their time with him.

Al came to us through another long-time volunteer in 1991 when Tucker had no staff Chaplain.  He helped to keep the worship services going every Sunday for over a year and agreed to continue to stay with us, even after we were able to start up Pastoral Care Services with staff again.

As a lay minister from the Pentecostal tradition, Al represents diversity for our Pastoral Care Services and our residents. Even his guitar music adds variety to the services.  He has dedicated himself to sharing his time between both a prison ministry and a nursing home ministry.

Angie Taylor
Nominated by Lula M. Mack
Berkeley Community Mental Health Center

Angie TaylorMs. Taylor is a very hardworking volunteer.  She is cheerful, pleasant, and helpful to others.  She will complete any task asked of her no matter how menial and sees it through to the end.

She is a warm, loveable person and there is never a dull moment when she is at the Center.  Although many of us need a jumpstart in the morning, Angie reports to work full of energy everyday!  She is constantly working or asking for more work to do and is willing to work for or with anyone.  She is always determined to be sure that she done her best.  If you want something done quickly and efficiently, ask Angie.  She is very capable and dependable.

Although she does not own a vehicle, that fact does not hinder Angie from reporting to work every day and doing a great job to help the Center get to a better place.

Kengi Stevenson
Nominated by Frances A. Feagin
Pee Dee Mental Health Center

Kengi StevensonKengi Stevenson is a caring individual, recognized by clients and staff for her outgoing personality and friendly smile.  She is dedicated to doing quality work in her job performance and has a deep, abiding faith that she says keeps her going when she feels like giving up.  Her goal in life is to help others, especially children.

Ms. Stevenson has been employed for approximately six years at Pee Dee Mental Health Center working as an Administrative Specialist B for Linda M Summer Family Services.  However, having a full time job and having three Children (Alexis, twelve; Lafayette, eleven; and Jordan, three) and a husband was only the beginning for Kengi. 

In between work, family, and school, Kengi served as a Pee Dee Mental Health Center Volunteer in 2005.  She worked night clinics at Linda M. Summer Family Services, as she needed the hours toward her degree, but also wanted to complete this in the environment she loves at the Center.  Her future plans are to continue working with children as a Social Worker.

Nathaniel Cannon
Nominated by Cassandra Lowe
Beckman Center for Mental Health Services

Mr. Cannon is a man with a diligent quest
of “helping the children” to do their very best

For three years he’s come twice a week and all summer
as steady and predictable as a musical drummer.
To lend his kind hand to children and staff,
with a twinkle in his eye and a heartful little laugh.

He goes about doing the things that are needed,
to facilitate growth in the ones that have heeded.

From preparing the room for their roaring arrival
to lending an ear to their bid for survival.

He’s quiet, unassuming, but assertive, to a tee,
when he senses a mishap or a near calamity.

For staff he’s a Godsend, another pair of eyes,
protector, a helper, one who is wise.

For the children, an angel with empathetic ears
who listens and nurtures through bliss and through tears.

He deserves to be honored, because of his part in
promoting recovery by subscribing his heart.

Paul Francis Smith
Nominated by Alyce K. DeWitt
G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital

Paul Francis SmithPaul Smith has volunteered at Bryan Psychiatric Hospital for approximately three years, serving as the leader of our self-help support group for patients.  This group supports recovery and connects the group members to continued self-help support in the community after release.

Paul’s ability to communicate in a positive way is apparent as soon as you see him.  He is like a ray of sunshine to patients and staff.   His compassion, understanding and ability to be a “good listener” bring comfort and reassurance to those in mental distress.  He understands the need to have someone with whom to share feelings.  His calm, cheerful and caring manner puts everyone he meets at ease.

Because of his unselfless devotion in giving of his time, talents, knowledge and resources, I am proud to nominate Paul F. Smith for the SCDMH Outstanding Volunteer – 2006 as our way of saying thank you from all the many, many people who have benefited from having had him pass through their lives.


Volunteer Group Nominees

Morris Mission Group
Nominated by Maria Barrera
Tucker Center

Morris Mission GroupThe Morris Mission Group has been ministering to our residents of Rainbow Lane every month for 11 years.  They started two years earlier at Crafts-Farrow State Hospital where Margaret Mintz, the group leader, worked as a nurse.  Margaret started out playing the piano and providing devotionals for Activity Therapy Services.  That is when she decided to ask her church group to adopt her unit as their mission.  When the hospital closed, they followed “their” residents to Tucker Center.

The group provides a devotional the residents can relate to, and the residents respond, sharing their concerns and prayer requests.  The interchange makes the residents feel more at peace and rejuvenated.   Then they all sing old-timey hymns and reminisce about the past and the importance of religion in their lives.  While sharing this special time together, the volunteers serve the most scrumptious homemade brownies and cakes.  They also participate in our annual Family Day celebration and support us by providing extras throughout the year with Mother’s Day hats, Easter baskets, lots of Christmas gifts and bingo prizes.

They are a dedicated and faithful group – nothing seems to stop them, not even cancer, surgery, death of a spouse or bad weather.  The 25 residents look forward to the group’s uplifting service and a time to share special friendship that has grown over the years.

Piedmont Tech (AND Nursing Students)
Nominated by Larjonar Amaker
Beckman Center for Mental Health Services

Estell MartinOur office was fortunate to have the nurses from Piedmont Technical College serve as volunteers, providing weekly personal hygiene groups, arts and crafts as well as groups on stress management, communications and addressing mental illnesses.

The individuals who gave of their time and energy to the clients of our program were courteous, ambitious, and cordial.  Their efforts brought a ray of sunshine to our clients and smiles to their faces.

Their services afforded staff the opportunity to allot time for other pertinent responsibilities of four jobs.  The time they spent with our clients was invaluable and most cost effective to the operation on the program.  The volunteers contributed much- needed services to the clients that otherwise may not have been provided due to budget restraints.

Irmo Church of God
Nominated by Alyce K. DeWitt
G. Werber Bryan Psychiatric Hospital

Irmo Church of GodA member of this church talked with me concerning their desire for an out-reach project where they would really be of help.  I recommended our Adopt-A-Lodge project and invited the group to come for a tour.  The rest is history – they did not adopt a lodge, they adopted 2 lodges, one male and one female.  Six years later, they are still serving these two lodges.  The length of time of their visits is not set by a clock.  They stay until every patient has had the opportunity to fill his need of talking to a friend.  Many times, they are here for several hours.

The group is also responsible for collecting clothes for our patients’ clothing closet.  Seeing our patients month after month and knowing that our patients really do come and go.  This creates a great need for clothing items.  This is not a glamorous job; however, these ladies have been of great help in supplying good, clean and appropriate clothes for us.

This group drives approximately 30 miles each way – that alone is impressive, but more so is the depth of their concern.  The men and women on their lodges have become their friends.

The Classics”
Nominated by Jean Manini
Columbia Area Mental Health Center

The Classics“The Classics” are all members of Windsor United Methodist Church, who chose this group name rather than being called a senior citizen group.  To them, the name “Classics” meant that anyone who had stood the test of time, was good in many situations and could adapt to whatever the occasion presented could be a part of their group.

One of their members, Ernestine Player, had been volunteering as a music therapist at Columbia Area Mental Health Center’s Brighton Hill RPT Program for eight years.  She immediately recognized the opportunity to collaborate the faith-based community with the mental health community.  Through her efforts, the Brighton Hill Singers choir was formed.  Later, with her guidance, 65 members of the Brighton Hill Program were invited to the church to enjoy a performance by the choir and a spaghetti lunch served by the Classics. 

In addition, six years ago the Classics began providing birthday gifts for over 80 Brighton Hill RPT participants.  Monthly birthday bags, a special creation by a talented Classics member, Evelyn Sizemore, are beautifully decorated according to the season celebrated.  Mary Furse delivers these works of art, filled with numerous gifts for each person celebrating his or her birthday.  The birthday bags are highly anticipated by clients.

Mental Health Association in Anderson County
Nominated by Sandra Jamison
Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital

Pam Cox and Mary EspiegThe Mental Health Association of Anderson County Board has been serving Harris Hospital patients in many ways since Christmas of 1985.  They provide Christmas gifts, clothing, magazines, and parties.

Every Christmas they come with homemade cookies, snacks, candies, and drinks and arrange entertainment for our patients.  They often arrange for the local high school band or orchestra to play and then they talk with the patients making them feel very special as they eat their snacks.  As the patients leave, they always present each of them with a gift;   this year as the patients left the gym, each was presented with a Christmas card.  As the patients opened their cards, they realized they each contained a gift of $3.00 (a total of $462.00).  The patients were thrilled, which showed with the spring in their walk back to the lodge.  One patient was overheard saying “We’ve GOT MONEY!”

Harris Hospital commends the board members of the Mental Health Association of Anderson County for taking time out of their schedules during this busy season to make such a difference in the lives of our residents.

Distinguished Service Award Nominees

Publix Super Market
Nominated by Jenifer Sharpe
Lexington County Community Mental Health Center

Ron ArnoldLexington County Community Mental Health Center proudly nominates Publix Super Market at 100 Old Cherokee Road for the SCDMH Distinguished Service Award for 2006.  This wonderful organization has provided donations to help meet clients’ needs for over ten years now.  Bakery manager, James Robinson, packs up bread, cakes, pastries, and other assorted goods each week.  Connie Crosby, the loading dock manager, collects and packs up the bakery items as well as other assorted staples and seasonal items from snack crackers to sunscreen for the center and arrives at work and hour early each Thursday morning to meet the LCCMHC staff member who picks up the items.
The total estimated value of the items donated by the Lexington Publix over the past year is $12,900.  While the monetary value of this contribution is amazing, what this help has meant to our clients is priceless.  The donations are used as bingo prizes in day programs, to provide birthday cakes and parties to adults and child clients who have never had anyone give them such a special moment, and to help supplement clients’ food supplies when they simply don’t have the means to meet these most basic of needs any other way.  Being able to go home with enough to make sandwiches means a great deal when the cupboards are bare.

At Christmas in 2005, Publix Inc. provided the center with funds to purchase the fixings for a special holiday dinner for eight families.  When it was discovered at the time of purchase that the food bill total was slightly over the allotted amount, instead of allowing some of the food to be put back, the checkout employee and bagger each pulled the extra out of their own pockets and made up the difference.  That’s the kind of good-hearted people who work at the Lexington Publix, and why we know they are truly special.

Cayce United Methodist Church Seekers Sunday School Class
Nominated by Jean Manini
Columbia Area Mental Health Center

In 1984, while searching for a community service project, the class heard about Columbia Area Mental Health Center’s psychosocial program, Independence House, and immediately adopted them.  For 21 years, the Seekers Sunday School Class has shared their annual Christmas party with members of Independence House and residents of Carter Street Apartments.  On Sunday afternoon in mid December of each year, 50 class members gather at the church to prepare a holiday meal, decorate the Fellowship Hall and await the arrival of their mental health family.   This celebration has evolved into a true family gathering of men and women who are excited about seeing each other and spending time together.  It is the highlight of the holiday season for many of the 40 to 50 Center clients who attend.

The meal is like a Thanksgiving feast with merriment abounding as the two groups sit together swapping stories and getting reacquainted.  Afterwards, a sin-a-long brings forth solos by Center clients and a robust songfest of favorite hymns and popular holiday music.  As the singing winds down, everyone takes time to reflect on the importance of Christmas and to share fond memories of present and past years.  This is a favorite occasion for Center clients and many eagerly talk about their experiences and take the opportunity to say “thanks” for the party.

Jolly old Saint Nick soon arrives dressed in his Santa suit complete with a white beard.  Excitement picks up as large stacks of colorfully wrapped Christmas presents are brought into Fellowship Hall.  Each client’s name is called and they come to the front of the hall for a picture with Santa and to receive a personal gift.  A loving, caring spirit radiates from the church members and everyone present feels special for an evening.