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May 27, 2024 9:30 am

Wayne County Public Library director earns N.C. Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service

GOLDSBORO Donna Phillips is the recipient of a 2024 Governor’s Medallion Award for  Volunteer Service, North Carolina’s highest volunteer honor. 

Phillips, the director of the Wayne County Public Library, was one of 20 honorees from across the state recognized in a ceremony held at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh on May 6, 2024. She  was presented with the award’s signature medallion, pin, and certificate by the North Carolina  Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service Chair Rev. Dr. Joe Blosser, Executive Director S. Briles Johnson, and Volunteerism Coordinator Kenneth McLellan. 

The Medallion Award was introduced in 2006 to recognize the top volunteers in the state. The award  certificate, signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, denotes recognition and “appreciation for distinguished volunteer  service to the people and the State of North Carolina.” One Medallion Award nomination is permitted per  county. A statewide panel reviews and evaluates the nominations to choose 20-25 award recipients. 

Phillips was selected as Wayne County’s nominee from those honored with the Governor’s Volunteer  Service Awards in April. The annual awards, provided by the Commission and coordinated by the United  Way of Wayne County, acknowledge individuals, groups, and businesses that make a significant  contribution to their community. 

During the Medallion ceremony, Blosser emphasized that the recipients are “people who really know the  community.” They are “people that see the depth of commitment and the work that we all have to do  cooperatively,” he said. “Together, we are building a movement for service … we are a strong state when  we serve together,” Blosser said. “You are our North Star here in our great North State.” 

Phillips is a lifelong volunteer who has been honored for her service to many organizations, including  United Way of Wayne County with its Emil Rosenthal Volunteer of the Year Award in 2018 and the  Spirit of North Carolina Award from United Way of North Carolina in 2023. “While Donna admits to  only around five hours of pure volunteer time each week, it is hard to separate what is personal giving  from her role at the library. In both capacities, she works to provide the best for her community. Her drive  to serve is twisted into her DNA,” Phillips’ nomination stated. “Just as the library is a resource to which  members of the community turn for everything from details on local history to insight on telling  misinformation from the truth, so too is its director such an asset,” the nomination said. 

Phillips is included in projects ranging from the Our State, Our Work initiative to connect young adults to  living wage employment opportunities to a Creative Aging project with the local arts council that  provides arts education programs to older adults. Another community collaboration that Phillips and the  library continue to support is the WAGES Stephen and Susan Parr Family Learning Center in Dudley. The Parr Center was sparked by a conversation between Phillips and former United Way Director Stephen Parr about the literacy needs in the southern portion of Wayne County. Much cooperative effort,  grants, and donations made it a reality. It has operated since 2022 with continued input and contributions  from local agencies and organizations. 

“Nothing happens in this county without connections,” Phillips said. “People want each other to succeed.  We have to put our arms around each other.”

“I am grateful to United Way of Wayne County for nominating me for the Governor’s Volunteer Service  Award, and I am deeply honored to have been selected as a recipient of the Medallion Award for  Volunteer Service,’ Phillips said. “I believe serving one another is what each of us is called to do. From a  young age my family impressed upon me the importance of sharing with others, my faith tradition taught  me that to serve others is to serve my creator, and throughout my life I was fortunate to have personal and  professional mentors who modeled for me the value of placing others before oneself,” she said. “It is  indeed a privilege to live and serve alongside the thousands of other volunteers who call Wayne County  home.” 

“I commend the Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and Governor Cooper for choosing to honor Donna Phillips with the Medallion Award for Volunteer Service,” said Sherry  Archibald, United Way of Wayne County executive director. “She is the epitome of volunteerism, not  only working diligently for the good of others herself but also enabling others to help their community.  Donna is an excellent representative of all in Wayne County who gives so selflessly.”