Governor's Volunteer Service Award

Award Recipients Announced

The North Carolina Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service has presented the 2023 Governor’s Volunteer Service Award to seven recipients from Henderson County, and the state’s highest volunteer recognition, the Governor's Medallion Award for Volunteer Service, to the late Rick Merrill of Flat Rock.

The Governor's Volunteer Service Award honors the true spirit of volunteerism by recognizing individuals and groups that make a significant contribution to their community through volunteer service. The awards program was created by the Office of the Governor in 1979 and any person, group, or entity from the public, nonprofit and private sector may be nominated. The Governor’s Volunteer Service Award recipients are people who have shown concern and compassion for neighbors by making a significant contribution to our community through volunteer service.

2023 Henderson County award recipients:

  • Chip Gould, nominated by Blue Ridge Community College and UNC Health Pardee
  • Skip Grasser, nominated by Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County
  • Terry Ketcham, nominated by UNC Health Pardee
  • Eleanor Sloane, nominated by Safelight
  • Jim Steinbaugh, nominated by YMCA of Western North Carolina
  • Janice Witte,* nominated by Children & Family Resource Center and United Way of Henderson County
  • Friends of Carl Sandburg at Connemara, nominated by Carl Sandburg National Historical Site


The Governor's Medallion Award for Volunteer Service was implemented in 2006 to recognize the top 20-25 volunteers in the state. Medallion recipients are nominated at the county level and the Henderson County nomination process is led by Community Foundation of Henderson County, with Program Officer Brandon Baird acting as County Award Coordinator for the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award Program. Only one Medallion nomination is permitted per county and nominations are elevated to a statewide panel that reviews and evaluates all nominations to determine the award recipients.

The 2023 Henderson County recipient of the Governor's Medallion Award for Volunteer Service is the late Rick Merrill, nominated by Interfaith Assistance Ministry (IAM).

Rick Merrill
Rick Merrill, 2023 recipient of the Governor's Medallion Award for Volunteer Service

Rick’s servant leadership mentality began at a young age when he volunteered for VISTA - Volunteers in Service to America (now AmeriCorps) while in college. That service led him to Henderson County where Rick and his wife JoAnne, put down roots. Rick built a career in the real estate field and used his talents and knowledge to promote land conservation and lend a hand with many community organizations over his decades in Henderson County.

Rick served as the first volunteer chairman of the Village of Flat Rock’s Planning Board, served on the Apple Country Greenway Commission, and volunteered as a member of Historic Flat Rock, Inc., including a three-year stint as its President.

After he and JoAnne placed a portion of their own land into a conservation easement, Rick served on the board of Conserving Carolina for 13 years, including a stint as Board President from 2009-2010.

His most recent volunteer service was with Interfaith Assistance Ministry (IAM), a Henderson County nonprofit crisis services provider. Rick served in a variety of volunteer roles with IAM from 2016 until his passing in February 2023. He served in many committee positions including Board President and was instrumental in the building and completion of IAM’s thrift store, serving as the Project Manager overseeing construction of the facility.

“Rick’s work on the IAM Thrift Store has provided the crisis services nonprofit with its first steady revenue stream since it was founded in 1984,” shared IAM’s Executive Director Elizabeth Wilson Moss. “Rick made his most recent contributions in 2022 while battling for his life with a brain cancer diagnosis. He has richly blessed his community and IAM.”

During this National Volunteer Week, Community Foundation of Henderson County acknowledges all the volunteers in our community that give selflessly of their time and expertise and serve to make our region a better place for all.

More information about the NC Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service and these awards is available at

About Community Foundation of Henderson County
Founded in 1982, Community Foundation of Henderson County’s mission is helping people who care make lasting contributions to causes that matter. One of Community Foundation’s primary purposes is to assist engaged philanthropy in our community. It is our honor to be selected by the NC Commission on Volunteerism & Community Service to facilitate these awards. Learn more about Community Foundation of Henderson County at, and by calling 828-697-6224.

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Nominations will reopen later this year with a submission deadline in early 2024.
Follow this link for more information and tips on writing a strong nomination.