Dozens honored at volunteer awards breakfast

By Bob Steenson,

Volunteers are the beating heart of a community.

Charles City leaders did a little cardiac care Thursday morning when they presented volunteer service awards to dozens of people of all ages representing a variety of organizations.

The highlights of the Volunteer Appreciation Awards were the recognition of new America’s Hometown Heroes, Doug and Lin Sinclair; the announcement of the Charles City Woman of the Year, Cathie Groesbeck; and the Man of the Year, Allen Williams.

Christopher Anthony received the Community Revitalization Board’s Leadership Award. The Business of the Year Award went to L&J Industries.

A capacity crowd filled the Charles City Senior Center for the breakfast and recognition ceremony.

THE HOMETOWN HEROES award honors a person or persons whose actions “epitomize the volunteer spirit and go a long way toward making this community a better place to live, work and play,” said Mayor Jim Erb, who presented the award. “They are a shining example to the rest of us of what a volunteer can do to make a difference, even a small one, and what being a model citizen is all about.”

Erb noted that Doug and Lin Sinclair’s volunteer activities do “things to bless others” and they have been involved in helping friends and neighbors, hosted foreign exchange students, delivered Meals on Wheels, and been involved in numerous church activities.”

Lin Sinclair is a Pink Lady for the Hospital Auxiliary, a member of the City Improvement Association, teaches a single moms group and is on the board at The Learning Center where she also reads to the children.

Doug Sinclair is a member of the Knights of Columbus, Charles City Singers and on the board of the Family Community Credit Union.

Erb said the nomination for the Sinclairs called them a couple who put in extra effort to make the community a home. “And it is always done with a servant’s heart and never seeking out recognition.”

Mark Wicks, community development director, presented the award for Woman of the Year. He said winners have “truly gone the extra mile in terms of outstanding community service and to the benefit of others.”

Cathie Groesbeck, he said, in addition to being a wife and the mother of five and working at a law firm, still finds time to volunteer “hours upon hours with the Band Parents Support Group, where she has become one of the parent leaders.”

“She also has run the Floyd T-Ball organization for many years, as well as leads 4-H groups and volunteers at her church,” Wicks said.

Groesbeck was not able to attend the award ceremony to receive her recognition in person.


MARIA DEIKE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of Floyd County Veterans Affairs, presented the Man of the Year award to Allen Williams. She noted the countless hours and countless deeds Williams puts in to help veterans, as well as others.

A Vietnam War vet himself, Williams has put in almost 1,000 hours as a volunteer driver for veterans, has worked at fundraisers to support veterans programs and has gone out of his way to deliver food, shoes and other necessities to vets who needed them.

John Montagne of Community Revitalization of Charles City presented that group’s Leadership Award to Christopher Anthony. Anthony has been involved in a wide range of community activities, Montagne said.

Anthony is a member of the Community Revitalization board of directors and serves on the organization’s Design Board, the Charles City Arts Council, the Historic Preservation Society Board and is secretary of CAR (Custom, Antique and Rod) Association.

He has helped develop the annual Holiday Home Tour and last year’s first pipe organ tour through Charles City churches. He is planning an art tour to visit art collections on display in private homes.

Chris Garden, owner of L&J Industries, was presented the Chamber Volunteer Business of the Year Award by Chamber President Brad Sloter.

Sloter said the key to success for an organization like the Chamber is having people you can count on repeatedly. He said community service seems to run in the Garden family, and noted that daughter Jacie Garden — who received the Chamber’s President’s Award Thursday morning — is a member of the Chamber board of directors and other committees and also volunteers at the PAWS shelter.

L&J Industries provides storage space when the Chamber needs it to prepare for events, Sloter said, helps move the Santa House in and out of Central Park each Christmas, and “answers the bell” when the Chamber needs a favor or a way to get something done.

“You will also find no bigger supporter of the annual Fourth of July Fireworks Show than Chris Garden and L&J Industries,” Sloter said. “Chris is actually one of the show’s organizers and launch technicians.”

ALSO RECOGNIZED Thursday morning were five “Caught in the Act” groups that were observed doing something exceptional for the community. They were:

  • Diane Meyer, Kendra Buenger and Ellen Sheckler, who for the past four summers have volunteered as certified lifeguards over the noon hour for adults exercising in the pool.
  • Al Williams, Robert Mondt, David Paulus, Ralph Hitchcock, Gary Quint, Duane Kilby, Dennis Raab, Doug Nelson, Cliff Salmons, Al Aird, Curtis Keifer, Phil Schafer, Scott Cline, James Tupy and Arthur Ernst, who have volunteered to drive area veterans in the Floyd County Veterans Affairs vans to medical appointments at VA facilities around the state.
  • Dana Meyer, who helps keep the community clean by picking up trash while walking every day, and also visits people in the nursing homes.
  • The Charles City Eighth Grade Class, which performed 12 core projects benefitting the St. Charles Cemetery Association and Riverside Cemetery by encouraging preservation, increasing knowledge about the cemeteries and helped with cemetery maintenance. The class was represented by Alec Staudt, Justin Heyer, Lily Usher and Hope Slinger.
  • The Comet varsity football team, who during a game against Waverly-Shell Rock last season, let an opposing player who is on the autism spectrum enter the game and score a touchdown.


  • Washington Elementary School, to Crystal Griffen, Jesse Griffen and Stephanie Hanson, for their work with the Comet Card and Comet Cart student recognition program.
  • Lincoln Elementary School, to Marilee Monroe, who volunteers reading and helping with fourth- and third-grade classes.
  • Middle school, to Lisa Cox.
  • High school, to student Lee Hoeft, for his work with various activities including FFA and numerous sports programs.
  • The Learning Center, to Doug Sinclair, for helping with “a lot of things that need to be done in the building.”
  • Foster Grandparents, to Donna Hulion, who has volunteered in the schools and in day care and who is loved by the children as “Gramma Donna.”
  • Charles City Senior Center, to Jim Smith, for his work with bingo night and other programs.