Manchin

By GOV. JOE MANCHIN

CHARLESTON -- Recently, my wife, First Lady Gayle Manchin, joined the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service to formally recognize some of the Mountain State's outstanding volunteers for their efforts to enrich West Virginia's families and communities with the presentation of the 2006 Governor's Service Awards.

This year's honorees come from every age group and walk of life, yet they share a common conviction: that by giving of themselves and by setting examples for their families and neighbors to follow, they are creating stronger communities and a better West Virginia.

I thank the West Virginia Commission for National and Community Service for its outstanding leadership of our state volunteerism efforts. The Commission does an incredible job in stretching the precious dollars it receives to support volunteerism and community service across the state.

Both Gayle and I are fully committed to taking volunteerism to a new level in West Virginia, and we are working very closely with the Commission board and staff to coordinate our volunteer resources in way that makes the most sense and the biggest impact in improving West Virginia's communities. We started our renewed efforts early last year with the introduction of www.volunteerwv.org, a comprehensive Web site that links volunteers with volunteer opportunities in West Virginia.

Last fall, pulling together as West Virginia best know how, we took our volunteer efforts to a new support level that earned our state national attention and acclaim as the Commission played an instrumental role in coordinating efforts to temporarily house and assist evacuees in the wake of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

This is a new day and there is a new attitude and an aggressive approach toward increasing volunteerism in the Mountain State. Most of you know that Gayle and I are committed to bringing West Virginia's children the five promises as defined by America's Promise -- caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, marketable skills, and opportunities to serve.

And with the assistance of Chesapeake Energy we are taking these efforts to a new level, as the energy leader announced earlier this week it is donating $100,000 to grow and sustain America's Promise in West Virginia. This generous gift from our new West Virginia's Promise partner will supply the needed funding to hire a full-time statewide director and support the statewide initiative.

The legendary actor and humanitarian Danny Thomas perhaps said it best when he said, "Success in life has nothing to do with what you gain in life or accomplish for yourself. It's what you do for others."

Volunteers every day –- through their actions, mentoring and leadership –- make a tremendous difference in our communities. The more we spread the word about how volunteers contribute to the economy, provide essential disaster relief, strengthen communities and change lives, the more people will understand and appreciate the value of community service.

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