Nominations are in for the 4th annual Great Friend to Families Award!

Buy a ticket to the awards luncheon.

GFTF logoPresented by Storie Street Grille and the Orthodontists & Pediatric Dentists Drs. Mayhew, Conn, Scheffler and Hardaway, the 4th annual Great Friend to Families award recognizes sustained contributions by an individual to the well-being of young children and their families in the High Country area.

This year we are giving awards in two categories: Helping Hands and Helping Hearts. Helping Hands awards celebrates professionals who over the course of their careers have shown extraordinary dedication to improving the lives of children and families and Helping Hearts awards recognizes individuals who have touched the lives of children and families through generous philanthropy and/or outstanding volunteerism.

The Helping Hands award winners are Jim Atkinson, Nancy Blair, Barbara Case, Heather Jordan, Crystal Kelly, Trish Lanier, Margaret Mullins, Gay Lynn Williams, Mary Willis, and Joan Zimmerman.

The Helping Hearts are Susan Bolash, Christopher Clark, Kathleen Collins, Rebekah Cummings, Beth Darnell, Carolyn Garland, Betty Green, Jack and Karen James, Jo Anne Jenkins, Diandra (Lynn) Patterson, Bob and Wimsey Powell, Kim Roberts, and Catherine Wilkinson.

A group of local leaders (Susan Jones of BREMCO, Ron Henries of the United Way, and last year’s winners Dick and Joan Hearn) will choose from the Helping Hands and Helping Hearts awards one overall winner who will be further honored as the 2012 Great Friend to Families award-winner.  This overall award winner, who will be announced at the luncheon, will receive $500 to donate to the High Country nonprofit of their choice.

The luncheon will feature music and reflections from distinguished songwriter and teacher Lisa Baldwin and will be catered by presenting sponsor Storie Street Grille. A past Teacher of the Year at Cove Creek School, Lisa is a professional performer and songwriter and has created her own program for introducing very young children to the love of learning through music called Music, Minds, and Motion.   Lisa Baldwin

Proceeds from this year’s event will be used for scholarship memberships to The Children’s Playhouse and to upgrade our outdoor spaces to create a “child’s secret garden” with shade, plants, and water exploration.

Catered by Storie Street Grille, the luncheon will be from noon to 2 pm on Saturday April 21 StorieStreetGrilleat the High Country Home Builders’ Plaza (755 NC Hwy. 105 By-Pass in Boone).Tickets are $20 per person, of which $15 is tax-deductible. Click here to buy a ticket.

Award Sponsors

Presenting sponsors are Storie Street Grille, Orthodontists & Pediatric Dentists Drs. Mayhew, Conn, Scheffler and Hardaway with additional support from Anonymous, Mast General Store, the High Country Home Builders, and Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation.

Additional sponsors for the award are still being sought. Individuals and local businesses are invited to be apart of this wonderful tribute to our hometown heroes. For more information, contact Kathy Parham at

About the 2011 Great Friend to Families Award

The winners of the 2011 overall Great Friend to Families Award were the husband and wife team of Dick and Joan Hearn, who are incredibly dedicated community volunteers who have touched a wide range of nonprofit efforts important to families including the United Way, Guardian Ad Litem, and many others. The other nominees were  Caroline Bond (Western Youth Network, Habitat for Humanity); Kathy Cottrell (veteran teacher, children’s choir director); Shirlee Edwards (founder of seven local nonprofits including The Children’s Council, Hunger Coalition, OASIS, and the Community Care Center); Eric Henderson (Director of EQUIP Sports Ministry); Denise Jones (foster parent); Trish Kohlasch, Linda Laughter, and Liz Tincher (Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S.); Vicki Krueger (teacher and community volunteer); Beth Lawrence (WYN, Sugar Grove Developmental Day School, Kiwanis);  Lee Marshall (Head Start, the Children’s Council)’ Elaine Rothenberg (High Country Women’s Fund, Temple of the High Country Sisterhood, Reading Mentors of the High Country); Lee Ryan (technology volunteer, Blowing Rock Community School); Chad Slagle (Department of Social Services); Donna Soule (Children’s Developmental Services Agency), Sherry Street Tobin (ASU Communication Disorders Clinic); and Cheryl Williams (teacher).

About 2010 Great Friend to Families Award

The winner of the 2010 award was Pat Morgan, a longtime community volunteer who has read to children in local elementary schools for decades, organized many events benefitting families, and took rural children on trips to Washington D.C. Morgan designated that his award go to children's collection at the Watauga County Public Library. The twenty distinguished nominees in 2010 were Julie Bostick; Kim Carter, Ashley McKinney, and Laureen Vilas; Matthew Crawford; Angie Dolen; Shirlee Gaines Edwards; Susan Jones; Kaaren Hayes; Dick and Joan Hearn; Virginia MacLeod; Pat Morgan; Tammy Nelson; Carrington Pertalion; Denise Presnell; Susan Weinberg; Delores Wilder; Roberta Yates; and Joan Zimmerman.

About the 2009 Great Friend to Families Award

The first winner of the Great Friend to Families award was Watauga County Children's Librarian Judith Winecoff and she designated the $500 prize to go to the Hunger and Health Coalition. A total of sixteen local citizens--Cynthia Brown-Greer, Laurie Cimino, Lindsay Cobb, Doug Galke, Kaaren Hayes, Karen James, Natalie Lewis, Karee Mackey, Todd Nolt, Sherrie Norris, Jane Penley, Denise Presnell, Jan Rienerth, Robin Triplett, Mary Willis, and Judith Winecoff—were nominated for the first ever award presented by the Children’s Playhouse. Click here for an overview of the 2009 nominees.