After years of feeding more than 70 families each week, Bobby Radford says he's become a "jack of all trades."
The 71-year-old Hixson resident has volunteered with the Soddy-Daisy Food Bank for about 16 years, doing everything from packing boxes to keeping meticulous records.
"You don't have any one role that you stay in real long," said Mr. Radford, who now serves as the food bank's office manager. "You'll be making boxes one week, shopping at the food bank downtown the next week, picking up food at retail stores. ... You're dealing with any number of things over a period of a week, and it just all comes together to make the program work."
Last month, the Chattanooga Times Free Press, WRCB-TV and First Tennessee Bank announced the resurgence of the local Jefferson Awards, part of a national effort honoring community and public service. This month, Mr. Radford was named the first award winner.
Nominations will be taken until March, and one monthly award-winner will be chosen to represent the Chattanooga area at a national banquet in Washington, D.C.
"Our goal is for the Jefferson Awards to be the event for recognizing the finest in volunteerism for the entire greater Chattanooga area," said Jason Taylor, Times Free Press president. "With so many great volunteer heroes locally, we look forward to seeing who will represent Chattanooga on that national stage in Washington, D.C."
Delores Radford, Mr. Radford's wife of nearly 50 years, nominated him for the award. She said after watching her husband dedicate the past 16 years to his work with the food bank, she thinks "it's time he gets a little recognition."
"He has worked so hard all these years helping the food bank, and I just felt like he deserved some credit," she said.
Ray Woodall, past president of the Soddy-Daisy Food Bank, said Mr. Radford deserves the honor because of his dedication to helping the hungry people of North Hamilton County. He's worked with Mr. Radford for about five years and has seen firsthand the effort he puts into the food bank, Mr. Woodall said.
"He goes out of his way to see that the people who are deserving of the food boxes get them," Mr. Woodall said.
It hasn't yet sunk in for Mr. Radford that he's been honored for his work. He said he was taken aback when told he'd been selected as the first winner.
"I thought, 'My word, that's a pretty prestigious award,'" he said. "I never thought about it, never worked toward it. I never thought about winning any award, for that matter. It was not done for an award."
ABOUT THE AWARDS
The Jefferson Awards are a national recognition system that honors community and public service. Since 1972, the awards have been presented on the local and national levels. Each year, a national winner is selected in four categories -- for elected or public officials, private citizens, people benefiting the disadvantaged and an individual 35 years or younger.
Locally, the awards are sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, WRCB-TV and First Tennessee Bank. Monthly award nominations will be taken until March 2011, when a local committee will select five honorees whose stories will be submitted to Jefferson Awards officials in Washington, D. C.
One person from Chattanooga then will be selected to represent the city in a national banquet in Washington.
Source: The Jefferson Awards; newspaper archives.
HOW TO NOMINATE
* Visit www.timesfreepress.com or www.WRCBTV.com to fill out an online nomination form.
* Pick up a paper nomination form from any First Tennessee Bank location and deliver, mail or fax to:
Chattanooga Times Free Press
P.O. Box 1447
Chattanooga, TN 37401
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