Yolanda Taylor of the Grant Beach neighborhood was one of five volunteers honored by the Council of Churches of the Ozarks and City of Springfield as Volunteers of the Year at the annual Gift of Time Awards Luncheon June 23 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel. Twenty-two others – including a dog – were recognized at the luncheon.
Over the last eight years, Taylor has served as a coach, an official, an organizer and most of all, a mentor to over 800 kids a year through the Grant Beach Sports League, which offers an opportunity for kids ages 3-12 to play baseball and soccer for a very low cost. Her willingness to step up and take responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the league has been a godsend to this totally volunteer ran organization.
She is the coach that once kids have her, they never want to play for anyone else. She is awesome at coaching kids of all ages and communicates well with the parents. Everyone sees her as fair and a great mentor for the kids and parents as well as other coaches. She first became involved with the sports program when her kids were playing and even though they have all aged out she has stayed involved because she recognizes the importance of team sports not only from her kids’ experience but from the perspective that we always need to provide low-cost opportunities for kids who might not otherwise be able to participate in organized sports. Her dedication to this program has been outstanding!
Nominated by various nonprofit, public, and service organizations, the five Volunteers of the Year included Joe Hills, Carolyn Holdren, Mark Priebe, John Willis and Yolanda Taylor, of Grant Beach. Honorees were selected from a pool of nominations based on their unique volunteer efforts and time donated. Of these nominees, Joe Hills was drawn as the recipient of a $1,000 donation to benefit the charity of his choice. All nominations were judged by an impartial team of business and civic leaders.
Since 1991, the City of Springfield and the Council of Churches have partnered to recognize exemplary volunteers. All nominees are invited to attend, with the Volunteers of the Year award recipients’ names announced at the luncheon.
In addition to being honored, Volunteers of the Year are awarded handmade blown-glass awards from Springfield Hot Glass and have their portraits on display in the Rosanna Bradshaw Memorial Wall of Fame at the Busch Municipal Building – a wall specifically created for Gift of Time Volunteer of the Year Award recipients.