LAFOLLETTE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) – Each year, volunteers are honored by the State of Tennessee. This initiative, led by Volunteer Tennessee, seeks to recognize outstanding community servants from each of Tennessee’s 95 counties. With the program now in its 15th year, two Campbell County residents have been selected as the youth and adult Volunteer of the Year. These two individuals will be recognized by Gov. Bill Lee in February at a special ceremony in Nashville.
Landyn Ford started his volunteer journey in high school at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. He started off in the VolunTeen Program at the hospital, which is where he would stay until he graduated. During his time in high school, he would also dedicate his time and efforts to Alzheimer’s Tennessee by participating in their fundraising and outreach events – eventually being awarded the Top Fundraiser award amongst five other counties. During his first semester at the University of Tennessee, he was given the opportunity to take on the role as a Cuddler in the Children’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. He also helped in other Children’s Hospital events such as Fantasy of Trees, Butterfly Dash and Burger Bash, and One Unforgettable Night. During his freshman year at the University of Tennessee, he was also asked to help oversee the VolunTeen Leadership Council at the hospital. In this role, he assisted with organizing fundraisers and outreach events for the VolunTeens.
It was then in the summer of 2020 that he was awarded the Rising Star award, which is given to exemplary college students for their dedication to the volunteer program at Children’s Hospital. In October of 2020, he was then offered the role as the Volunteer Services Assistant within the Volunteer Services and Programs Office at Children’s Hospital. Now, nearly two years later, he has been promoted as the Volunteer Services Specialist and the overseer of the VolunTeen Program. He currently helps coordinate nearly 250 adult volunteers and 70 high school students. He is also a part of the Caryville Cares Playground committee, where he helps to organize fundraisers and outreach events to promote the building of an all-inclusive playground for the youth of Campbell County.
Josh McDowell, a Caryville Cares Playground volunteer, said that “Landyn is one of our team’s most valuable members – and also one of our youngest. He’s quick to jump at the chance to help, and oftentimes is working behind the scenes to help our team succeed.”
Bill Thompson is president of the local Sleep in Heavenly Peace chapter – a 501(c)(3) that builds and delivers beds to children. Bill has partnered with local businesses, churches, and civic organizations who have donated bedding and building materials, or helped organize a “build day” where everyone comes together to build the beds, and then deliver them. Bill has said that, “all children deserves a safe, comfortable place to lay their heads” and he has worked tirelessly to make this happen.
During the past four years, Bill has helped children in Campbell, Scott, Morgan, Anderson, and Knox Counties. The organization has had more than 300 volunteers help in building nearly 900 beds.
Rayma Daugherty, a Sleep in Heavenly Peace volunteer, said that she “attributes the organization’s success to Bill’s leadership.” She says that Bill has assisted in repairing floors, providing beds for mothers, shoes for children, and made sure that they are all well fed.
“Tennessee is known as the Volunteer State, and I believe that Campbell County exemplifies that better than anywhere else,” said Brandon Johnson, Chairman of the recognition program. “Our committee considered several nominees, but ultimately it was the selfless service of these two that rose to the top. Their dedication to our community should certainly be celebrated.” (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 11/11/2022-6AM)