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A volunteer spirit
Herb Jones Award winner doesnt let autism get in his way
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Pictured are the Volunteers of the Year honored by the Rotary Club of Effingham County (left to right): front row, Jeanette Altman, Sandra Gibson, Sondra Burns and Brenda Rabon; middle row, Natarsha House, Bonnie Crowe, Lillian Cawthon, Brenda Helmly, Christina Morales and Christina Larson; back row, Amber Pace, Brenda Harden, Shaw Wilkerson, Tim Kilmer and Mike Crager. Not pictured are Carleen Smith and Joe and Monica Bahm. - photo by Photo by Paul Floeckher

Shaw Wilkerson appreciates the people who have helped him since he was diagnosed with autism at age 5.

It moved him to help others in the community. Wilkerson has volunteered for years with GAP (God’s Apostles Providing) Ministries, and he founded the organization My Father’s House when he was still a teenager.

For his efforts, Wilkerson was honored Thursday by the Rotary Club of Effingham County with this year’s Herb Jones Volunteer of the Year Award.

Wilkerson, now 22 years old, said he helps others “because God touched my heart, and he led me.”

My Father’s House hosts monthly socials for people with social, mental or emotional challenges, who might otherwise might not be able to enjoy social activities. The organization also partners with GAP and GLOW (God’s Love for Orphans and Widows) Ministries to fund scholarships for people with autism who want to continue their education.

First runner-up for Volunteer of the Year was Habitat for Humanity helper Tim Kilmer. Kilmer is involved in a number of projects for the organization, including helping construct Habitat houses and working at the Habitat ReStore.

“It just seems like the right thing to do,” Kilmer said. “It just fits. I enjoy meeting the people, and I enjoy helping when I can.”

Second runner-up was Christina Morales, who volunteers every weekend at Treutlen House at New Ebenezer, a group home for boys in the foster-care system.

The Rotarians made donations to the three award recipients’ causes: $500 to GAP Ministries, $300 to Habitat for Humanity and $200 to Treutlen House.

Along with the top three finalists, the Rotary Club honored all of this year’s Volunteer of the Year nominees, including:
Jeanette Altman, Manna House Ministries
Joe and Monica Bahm, South Effingham Middle School
Sondra Burns, United Way’s Center for Working Families
Lillian Cawthon, Hospice Savannah
Mike Crager, Guyton Fire Department
Bonnie Crowe, Sand Hill Elementary School
Sandra Gibson, Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Brenda Harden, Guyton Elementary School
Brenda Helmly, Live Oak Public Libraries
Natarsha House, Rincon Elementary School
Christina Larson, United Way’s Caring Closet
Amber Pace, Springfield Elementary School
Brenda Rabon, Effingham Health System
Carleen Smith, GLOW Ministries