Volunteer Awards

United Way Executive Director Ginny Mohrbutter, center, stands with volunteer award winners, from left, Marilyn Malloy Jackson, Kelly Spivey, Delois Mercer and Nancy Taylor Jones.

The United Way Tar River Region recently honored three local winners of the 2021 Governor’s Award for Volunteer Service for their outstanding work in the Twin Counties.

The 2020 award recipient also was honored at the ceremony as COVID-19 restrictions prevented a reception from being held last year.

The Governor’s Volunteer Service Awards honor the spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals, groups and businesses that make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service.

“United Way Tar River Region proudly administers this program as a service for the governor’s office. Each year, the power of volunteerism is a driving force for United Way and our network of nonprofits throughout the community,” United Way Executive Director Ginny Mohrbutter said. “We know the power of volunteerism and how important it is to recognize and value those who give of their time, talent and treasure.”

Mike Smith, the United Way’s board vice president of resource development, presented Marilyn Malloy Jackson as the 2020 recipient of the Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service.

“Marilyn Malloy Jackson shows remarkable dedication to service education to the patrons at the Harold D. Cooley Library in Nashville,” Smith said. “She provides various supports to the patrons, including assistance with ‘Storytime’ that involves preschoolers, special-needs children, homeschool students, parents, grandparents and caregivers.”

Tikela Alston, the library director who nominated Jackson, said Jackson is loved by the “Storytime” participants.

“She goes above and beyond to ensure that the kids learn and enjoy ‘Storytime,’” Alston said. “Her previous skills obtained such as teaching, mentoring and writing have helped boost library programming and other endeavors.”

Lisa Wright, board co-vice president of community development, presented Kelly Spivey as the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award recipient for Edgecombe County. Spivey is co-founder of Kelly’s Community Pantry, a place where people can donate to others in need.

As Spivey’s nominator, Ashley Hall said, “She also has her entire family involved in helping with the pantry and giveaways, including her husband and children. It’s 24/7 for her.”


Spivey began the community pantry outside her home in the Tarboro area initially to collect and distribute non-perishable food items.

“She even has her youngest children helping in the community,” Hall said. “The day before Thanksgiving, she hosted a clothing and food drive for locals. To have been there and to see the children and families that lit up as they received assistance was wonderful.”

Wright also presented Delois Mercer the 2021 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for Nash County. Mercer is the volunteer manager of The Food Pantry at Thornes Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Rocky Mount. She coordinates the ordering and distribution of more than 6,000 pounds of donated food provided through the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and Food Lion. Mercer ensures that every two weeks, nutritious food and veggie boxes are distributed to 150 families in need.

Her nomination provided through her husband, James Mercer, included: “Delois has demonstrated that she understands the unique needs of the community and stakeholders … she brings people together to solve community issues and problems … she is an outstanding administrator and budget manager for The Mercer Foundation and Thornes Chapel Church.”

Alane Gordon-Bray, co-vice president of community development, presented Nancy Jones Taylor as the recipient of the 2021 Governor’s Medallion Award for Volunteer Service.

“This award is the highest honor presented for the Governor’s Service Awards,” Gordon-Bray said. “She began creating initiatives to help sustain those living in Whitakers who were experiencing changes in jobs and community opportunities.”

As Taylor’s nominator, Tom Betts said, “Nancy’s passion began as care for the disrepair of public and private spaces, and this led to the formation of the 2018 nonprofit group, WRAP-Whitakers Revitalize and Preserve. The nonprofit has 41 members who have diverse backgrounds, races and age ranges.”

Gordon-Bray went on to say that Taylor succeeded in raising $55,000 to improve the only public park in Whitakers, where they now have a cultural, social and healthy outlet for residents.

“Nancy and WRAP have inspired residents to get involved in creative projects to instill care in one another and to have renewed town pride,” Gordon-Bray said.

Mohrbutter closed out the ceremony by saying to the winners, “Our community is better, stronger and more responsive because of your selfless actions.”