CHARLESTON - A Parkersburg woman will receive an award from the governor for volunteerism.
Beth Drake will be honored Aug. 8 in Charleston where she will receive the Governor's Service Award from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin during a banquet at the Charleston Civic Center, part of the Faces of Leadership annual state conference on volunteerism.
Drake, nominated by the Parkersburg Art Center, Altrusa and the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, said she was honored.
Photo by Jolene Craig
Beth Drake, a Wood County volunteer, will receive a Governor’s Service Award for volunteerism on Aug. 8 in Charleston. Drake is a key volunteer for Altrusa, the community and the Parkersburg Art Center where she is shown in the gallery.
"Recognition for the volunteer work that I do is something that I never expected. What I do is done because there is work that I think will make this community a better place to live," she said. "This recognition, however, offers me an opportunity to represent the many, many volunteers in this state who work so hard to make this a better place to live. There is no way that we could have the many advantages we have without volunteers."
Drake is retired from the West Virginia University Extension Service. Her husband is Raymond.
"I have spent many hours working on projects for the Parkersburg Art Center Inc., Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, Altrusa and others," Drake said. "We are lucky to have these organizations and I must say, they manage volunteers very well. It is easy to be a volunteer when you are ask to do something that is well-defined."
Presented since 1995, the awards honor individuals, families, organizations and businesses for volunteerism in community service in West Virginia. Drake is one of two recipients in the Senior category.
In 2011, Drake contributed more than 1,000 volunteer hours to organizations in the Parkersburg area. She researched and drafted more than 10 grant applications, resulting in thousands of dollars of support for the organization's educational programs and projects. In particular, an application helped to fund the art center's weekly "Arty Parties," which benefit an average of 100 children each week at no cost to families.
The gift of her time is of incalculable value, said art center director Abby Hayhurst. Also beyond price is the enthusiasm Drake brings, she said.
"She writes the grants and waters the plants," Hayhurst said.
Drake was instrumental in the creation of the www.morescholarships.org website, an innovative online resource connecting students with financial need in 11 West Virginia counties to scholarship opportunities. She also co-chairs a scholarship subcommittee for the PACF, where she dedicated more than 200 volunteer hours in 2011 reviewing more than 125 student applications to fill 20 scholarships.
"We think the world of Beth," said Judy Sjostedt, executive director of the foundation.
Drake is devoted to improving educational opportunities for others, Sjostedt said. The foundation's service area has a low number of college-educated individuals, she said.
"Recognizing this as an impediment to the area's economic growth and citizens' personal quality of life, and as an advocate for community collaboration, Beth led the community's creation of the www.morescholarships.org website," Sjostedt said. "An innovative online 'one stop shop,' this site was the first of its kind in West Virginia to connect students with financial need in 11 West Virginia counties to scholarship resources."
As an Altrusa volunteer, Drake also helped to secure grant funding for many of the organization's community projects.
"Beth Drake has been instrumental in all of the community service projects of Altrusa, constantly giving of herself for the betterment of the community with no expectation of personal reward or honor for the service she provides," said Sandra Testa, a board member of the Altrusa International chapter in Parkersburg.
The Governor's Service Awards are administered by Volunteer West Virginia. A review committee selects recipients on the basis of achievement, community needs, continuing involvement, innovation and impact of service.