Smyth County honored local citizens Tuesday evening in the annual Virginia Mountains Most Beautiful People Celebration.
Held at the recreation park in Chilhowie, the ceremony featured announcements of the honorees by Ron Thomason, director of the Smyth County Tourism Association, which sponsors the program in conjunction with the H.L. Bonham Regional Development & Tourism Center, a picnic supper, and music from Valley Grass.
Thomason said the honorees are recognized for the many ways they go above and beyond in volunteer activities for the community.
The honors go to: Wilma Martin Gillenwater of Chilhowie; Donna Shaw Hamm of Marion (posthumous); Carolyn Marie Haulsey of Sugar Grove; Pam Howell of Marion; Penny and Herbert “Turk” Johnson with VFW Post 4667; Phyllis Umberger Naff of Chilhowie; and the students and adults who built the new Chilhowie LOVE sign – Gracie Odum, Taylor Farris, Abby Blevins, Ava Tuell, Lynn Thompson, Tim Smith and Jay Cathart.
Wilma Martin Gillenwater – taught K-6 at Chilhowie Elementary School, volunteered to help the quilting ladies of St. James Lutheran Church with items for Samaritan’s Purse projects, and is active in her church’s Hostess committee, preparing food for sick and needy people in the community.
Donna Shaw Hamm (posthumous) – volunteered with her church, Lebanon United Methodist, was known to many as “4-H mom,” organized the Christmas bazaar at Chilhowie Public Library, and the Reality Store at the career center, created the C.H.S. Lunch Bunch, Tuesday night crochet classes, served as chairperson for the Apple Festival indoor exhibits and worked with its beauty pageants, and was organizing her 50th class reunion at the time of her death in June.
Carolyn Marie Haulsey – updates and prints the bulletins at her church, visits nursing homes every week, helps animals in the county with spay/neuter programs, registers animals for the Margaret Mitchell Spay and Neuter Clinic, volunteers with the humane society, and rescues dogs and cats.
Pam Howell – is an advocate for animals as a volunteer and officer with the county’s humane society, volunteers at the animal shelter in many capacities, including cleaning, transporting and rescuing, with “many times that one more effort helped save a life.”
Penny and Turk Johnson – are active in VFW Post 4667 in Marion and all the programs for local veterans, volunteer at the RAM clinic, are active with Fulton United Methodist Church, and many town and county activities. Turk is a 23-year veteran of the Air Force and commander at the VFW for eight years. Penny serves with the women’s auxiliary at the Post and with District 9.
Phyllis Umberger Naff – volunteered with the St. James Lutheran Church for Samaritan’s Purse projects, including quilts and shoeboxes, is active in her church’s Hostess committee, preparing food for sick and needy individuals in the community, and goes to homes of sick and elderly to fix their hair.
Gracie Odum, Taylor Farris, Abby Blevins, Ava Tuell, Lynn Thompson, Tim Smith and Jay Cathart – are students and adults who created the new Chilhowie LOVE sign at the tourism center along with Barbara McClellan, artist, who nominated them. The group includes Marion Senior High School art students and a recent graduate, a Chilhowie High School student, a home-schooled student, a volunteer at the tourism center and a teacher at Marion Senior High.