Appalachia resident receives national volunteer award

When local resident Jerry Griffin heard he had won the May Volunteer of the Month award from American Whitewater, he said he could not believe it.

“I had never thought about receiving an award,” Griffin said. “I enjoy volunteering. I wish I could accomplish more.”

Cruise Director Wesley Bradley disagreed, saying Griffin’s work with the Appalachian Paddling Enthusiasts (APE) has been exceptional.

“Griffin works hard in the background on many efforts, and he never seeks to take the spotlight for any of it,” Bradley said. “He is an inspiration to many who know him, and he keeps us motivated to contribute to causes.”

The award comes from American Whitewater, a national non-profit who works to preserve the country’s rivers.

“Whitewater paddling spurs many of us to come together to work on river access projects, cleanups, mentor children and youth and connect with the surrounding communities in a very unique way,” he said.

APE has been involved in numerous community projects over the years, and Griffin has participated in many of those, including several projects on the Doe and Nolichucky Rivers.

“I used to volunteer for the U.S. Forest Service, so volunteering is not new,” Griffin said.

In addition, he said his distinction as an Eagle Scout taught him the value of community service as its own reward.

“Part of it is giving service back to the community,” he said. “My wife tells me I am generous with my time but not my money.”

Bradley shared the sentiment, saying recognitions like this help highlight the efforts of the whole group.

“Unsung ‘get it done’ kind of guys like Griffin often get overlooked in these efforts, and this kind of recognition is a great way to highlight some of the numerous contributions,” Bradley said. “He is an inspiration to many who know him and he keeps us motivated to contribute to causes.”

Though Griffin said he is turning 69 next month, his passion for his community and the outdoors has not waned.

“This passion is derived from the rivers and streams we paddle together,” Bradley said. “I am delighted to see Griffin honored by American Whitewater for his many volunteer contributions over the years to our local river community.”

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