For many, now is the time of year when volunteering becomes top of mind. But for local resident Helen Gamble, it's an everyday act.
For all her charitable efforts, Gamble was named the 2017 Citizen of the Year by the Walker County Chamber of Commerce.
"I've just always been involved. Wherever there was a need, I tried to do my part," Gamble said.
She was nominated for the award by her friend, Rachel Oesch Willeford. She and Gamble have been friends for many years and have worked on a number of projects together, including the recent Honeybee Festival where they coordinated a cake contest.
"Helen is always ready to help with a sewing, cooking, gardening or farming tip," Willeford said. "On more than one occasion, I have called upon her to help with dinner parties, cooking questions, cleaning suggestions and sewing tips. I know I am not the only one that calls upon her for tips."
Gamble is a former home economist who worked for the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service from 1975 to 1999 as a family and consumer sciences agent. She then became coordinator of the Whitfield County office before retiring in 2001.
In her retirement, she hosts a weekly TV show on UCTV, sharing retirement tips with other Walker County residents.
"I have been, I guess, the person people call when they have a problem or question," she said.
She also holds offices in groups such as Beta Sigma Phi, the Board of Equalization, LaFayette Woman's Club, LaFayette Rotary Club and a number of other organizations, and volunteers at First Baptist Church in LaFayette, most recently with the Christmas Shoebox project.
"We all need to give back, because we're already so in need in so many areas," said Gamble. "Where would we be without volunteers?"
It is those types of people who routinely are recognized as the Citizen of the Year.
"We look for contributions to the community in terms of volunteering," said Chamber President Lacey Wilson. "We are especially interested in recognizing individuals who have gone above and beyond the scope of his or her professional responsibilities to give back to the community through their time, talents and service."
In addition to the time she spends helping others, Gamble runs her family's farm, which she took over after her husband's death. The farm specializes in Bermuda hay and alfalfa, and Gamble has won a number of related awards. Still, she always finds time to be "the first in line with a cake or casserole when anyone in the church or community is dealing with a sickness or death," said Willeford.
While Gamble has touched many lives in the community, she said it is she who is blessed.
"I just feel very blessed to have been able to work in this county. There are no better people anywhere, and just being able to meet and talk to those people, it's just such a blessing," she said. "There's no better place to live, no better place to be. This is home, and I hope I'm here until I go to my next home."
Contact Dillon Dodson at 423-757-6579.