A woman who has been volunteering since she was a teenager was honored Wednesday as Volunteer of the Year for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program.
Kerry Mullican received the award after RSVP director Donna Anderson revealed she was nominated by three people. Anderson noted that Mullican’s family members say she is busier now in her retirement years than she ever was as a full-time teacher.
Mullican’s sister said she got her start volunteering as a teen when she worked as a candy striper at the hospital.
“I’d deliver flowers and take mail to patients,” said Mullican. “That was years ago.”
Mullican’s list of volunteer work is voluminous. She volunteers for Meals on Wheels, the Helping Hands Ministry soup kitchen, Just Friends at Saint Thomas River Park, the Master Gardeners Association and tutors at Hamilton Street Activity Center.
Diane Bond and Saundra Williams, two members of the Master Gardener Association, submitted a joint nomination letter for Mullican.
“We’ve worked together on many Master Gardener events and she never ceases to impress us,” said Bond and Williams. “She is easily the most compassionate person we know, the kind of person who goes out of her way to help the less fortunate every day.”
Tammy Comfort, the president of Helping Hands Ministry, also nominated Mullican for Volunteer of the Year. She said she volunteers at the soup kitchen twice a week and also volunteers twice monthly for a food box giveaway.
“She is nice, kind and a wonderful person,” said Comfort. “When I had surgery, she came in with a big, brown paper bag. In it was four pre-made meals for me and my girls. She had her church to send me get-well cards and told me if I need anything to let her know.”
State Rep. Rush Bricken was the keynote speaker. He talked in general about state government and Tennessee’s $38.5 billion budget.
“That sounds like an awful lot of money, but 98 to 99 percent of it is hard-wired into existing state programs that are almost unchallengeable,” said Bricken. “Every state department has its own lobbyist within that department and their job is to protect their turf and protect their money. I think everything has a right to be challenged. If it’s working, great. If it’s not, let’s do something else.”
Bricken ended his speech with words of appreciation for the roomful of volunteers.
“I want to thank you for your volunteer service and trying to make a positive difference in someone’s life,” said Bricken.