Governor's Volunteer Service Awards


The awards program was created by the Office of the Governor in 1979 and recognizes North Carolina's most dedicated volunteers. Through the years, the award has been bestowed on thousands of North Carolinians who have shown concern and compassion for their neighbors by volunteering in their local community.

Currently, the program is administered by the NC Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and the Office of Governor Roy Cooper. Volunteers nominated from the County are eligible to win the award; a maximum of 10 volunteers per County are bestowed the Governor's Volunteer Service Award each year. One of the ten volunteers recommended by the County receives an endorsement to be a candidate for the Governor's Medallion Award; the top 20 volunteers in the State will be bestowed this additional honor the Governor's Medallion Award.

How to Nominate a Volunteer

2024 nominations are being accepted October 25, 2023 through February 5, 2024

If you or your organization would like to nominate a volunteer for the 2024 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award, you can submit your nomination online, in-person, or by downloading the printable nomination form. Forms completed online will be sent to the Local Designated Coordinator automatically. The printable nomination form can be downloaded in PDF or Microsoft Word formats and is available in English and español.

If using the printable nomination form, you must send the form to Brunswick County Volunteer and Non-Profit Coordinator/Local Designated Coordinator Leslie Stanley via:

Completed forms must be submitted by Monday, Feb. 5, 2024 (late submissions will not be eligible for review).

View tips for writing a strong Governor’s Volunteer Service Award nomination (PDF).

Thank you to everyone in Brunswick County who volunteers their time and talents; you are all appreciated!

Brunswick County's 2023 Governor's Volunteer Service Award Recipients (PDF)

The 2023 GVSA recipients for Brunswick County include (in no particular order):

Christy Judah

Christy Judah and dogNominated By
  • Chief Doug Dawson, Brunswick Search and Rescue
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
  • 2023 Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service
In the award nomination for Judah, Chief Dawson said, “She [as the founder of Brunswick Search and Rescue] has participated in over 350 emergency callouts to search for missing adults, children, dementia sufferers, and others; helped locate and recover drowned victims giving closure to the family, educated hundreds of children. She has become a world authority on use of K9’s for wilderness air scent, trailing, land and water human remains detection.”

Bob Lafontaine

Bob LafontaineNominated By
  • Sheriff John Ingram (Retired), Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lt. Chris Raynor, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
In the award nomination for Lafontaine, Sheriff Ingram (Retired) said, “Mr. Lafontaine brings a positive attitude and enormous amount of knowledge from life experiences. He often provides new ideas to improve processes and services of the Sheriff’s Office. Since Mr. Lafontaine began volunteering in 2016, he has dedicated himself more than 3,402 hours to the Volunteer Services Program at the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. Without the dedication of Mr. Lafontaine, our agency and citizens would not be provided the high level of service we are able to.”

Chip Presley

Chip PresleyNominated By
  • Laura Cacchione, Southport Oak Island Interchurch Fellowship Food Pantry
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
In the award nomination for Presley, Ms. Cacchione said, “Chip displays patience, compassion and organizational skills that have benefitted both the volunteers that serve at the food pantry and the clients we serve” and “his devotion to the Food Pantry is evident in all his actions.”

Charles "Chuck" Blackburn

Chuck BlackburnNominated By
  • 2021-2023 Commander Steven Ratti, American Legion Post 543
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
In the award nomination for Blackburn, Mr. Ratti said, “We would need three talented people to do all that he does. He is active in recruiting new Post members and works tirelessly to support veterans and youth in the community.”

Diane Mesaris

Diane MesarisNominated By
  • Chief Alan May, Bald Head Island Public Safety
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
In the award nomination for Mesaris, Chief May said, “I believe Diane is the best choice for the award because she consistently displays our agency’s values of professionalism, integrity, respect, and service” and “Diane encourages the people she works with to commit to personal development and to avail themselves of the tools to enable them to care for our community. Any success I have with the volunteer contingent is because of Diane’s continued commitment to group and the Bald Head Island community as a whole.”

Gerald “Jerry” Wolf, Sr.

Gerald Wolf, Sr.Nominated By
  • City Manager Gordon Hargrove, City of Boiling Spring Lakes
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
In the award nomination for Wolf, Mr. Hargrove said, “Accounts of his work say Jerry is a joy to be around. He is dependable, independent, self-motivated, and an overall professional. His communication skills are remarkable, and the team loves him for it.”

Henry Hewett

Henry HewettNominated By
  • Chief Rob Johnson, Sunset Harbor Zion Hill Volunteer Fire Department
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
In the award nomination for Hewett, Chief Johnson said, “Henry has been a lifelong, loyal and dedicated member to this department and has helped it to grow and improve over the years. He is an excellent example of a dedicated volunteer and is well deserving of this award.”

Kelly Helbig

Kelly HelbigNominated By
  • Darlene Robke, Jack Helbig Memorial Foundation
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
In the award nomination for Helbig, Ms. Robke said, “She works tirelessly within her own community and in surrounding areas to oversee fundraisers, educational activities, and advocacy events to help educate and empower the public (particularly children and families) about how to make informed water safety choices. Kelly is laser focused and on a mission to prevent drownings. Recent results of her efforts include saving the lives of two young girls on Caswell Beach and a gentleman on Oak Island, NC.”

The St. James Service Club

The St. James Service ClubNominated By
  • Mayor Jean Toner, The Town of St. James
  • The Town of St. James
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
In the award nomination for the SJSC, Mayor Toner and the Town said, “During 2022, the SJSC provided direct assistance and volunteer involvement with 32 nonprofits serving Brunswick County. The SJSC supported nonprofits provide services for those most in need of shelter, clothing, nourishment, and medical care. Another focus area of the Club is to enhance the education experience of Brunswick County students” and “the SJSC has a keen interest in helping to preserve the environment and incredible wildlife habitats in Brunswick County.”

Robert "Bob" Ahlers

Bob AhlersNominated By
  • Superior Court Judge Jason Disbrow, Matthew’s Ministry
  • Chief Sam Massey, The Friends of the Oak Island Lighthouse
  • 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award
Bob Ahlers is the first person in Brunswick County to receive two separate nominations in the same year. This is a testament to the outstanding efforts he has put forth in the community!

In the first award nomination for Ahlers, Honorable Disbrow said, “Bobby Ahlers is the go-to volunteer for Matthew’s Ministry” and “he is Kristie Disbrow’s right hand man and is invaluable to Matthew’s Ministry.”

In the second award nomination for Ahlers, Chief Massey said, “He commits untold hours to educating the public and especially younger generations on the rich history of the lighthouse and the role it still plays in our local culture. Bob is an asset to the Caswell Beach community and deserves recognition for his dedication and hard work.”