ABOUT THE AWARDS
Since 1972, the awards that recognize volunteerism have been presented on the local and national levels. Each year a national winner is selected in four categories: Elected or public officials, private citizens, people benefiting the disadvantaged and individuals 35 or younger. The final winner of Chattanooga's Jefferson Awards will attend the national awards program in Washington, D.C., in spring 2012.
About three years ago, Dorothy Williamson's support and assistance allowed an elderly man to stay out of a nursing home before he died, she said.
Currently, Williamson volunteers for two more elderly people, taking them groceries.
Williamson, 62, said she helps because she has a heart.
"I don't brag about it," she said. "I just do it."
But if Williamson won't toot her own horn, her co-worker, Michelle Stewart, will.
"I'm just crazy about her," Stewart said. "She really embodies the spirit of giving."
Stewart nominated Williamson for a Jefferson Award, and Williamson is a local winner for January.
Williamson and Stewart have worked together for about 16 years. Williamson is Stewart's supervisor at Chattanooga Onocology and Hematology Associates, where nurses administer chemotherapy to patients. Patients request Williamson when they come in for treatment, Stewart said.
"She just taught me how to be a nurse," Stewart said.
Randy Currey, a patient at the center where Williamson has worked since September 2008, said she jokes but is also serious when she needs to be.
"She's a great person, not only as a nurse, but as a person," he said.
Williamson and the other nurses in the practice also volunteer to set up a Relay for Life team and raise money for the American Cancer Society. The team usually raises $4,000 to $5,000, Stewart said.
And the nurse is an active member of First Baptist Church of Cleveland, Tenn., helping with the Ladies Sunday School Class, Williamson said.
Williamson is flattered by winning the Jefferson Award.
"It's an honor, and it's a privilege," she said.