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Four from Brunswick County receive Governor’s Volunteer Service Award

Updated: Jun. 9, 2021 at 4:48 PM EDT
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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Few people in this world do things without expecting something in return, but that’s not the case for volunteers. Now, four volunteers in Brunswick County are being recognized by the state for going above and beyond.

Like any volunteer, Jim Rewalt and Gail Faust are always there to help others-- but they’ve gone above and beyond and now, the state is showing appreciation for all their hard work.

Rewalt and Faust had one thing in common: they both work with forever homes.

“The best feelings we have is the look on the family’s face-- most particularly, the children,” said Rewalt, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity. “You can show them where their bedroom is going to be and they really get excited.”

“The dogs end up going to the person where you see those rainbows and you see those hearts,” said Faust, describing her favorite part about volunteering for the Brunswick County animal shelter.

Now, the two are connected in a different way. They both received the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award and neither saw it coming.

“It was done by a friend of mine. We’re out on the golf course and he says ‘Jim, I want to tell you something.’ I just about fell over,” said Rewalt. “I said ‘Skip, you didn’t do this,’ -- ‘oh, yes I did!’”

“The first I knew was when someone contacted me and said [WECT was] coming to talk to me,” said Faust.

The award didn’t come as a surprise to their supervisors. Rewalt and Faust are both known for their hard work in getting people and pets where they belong.

“Certain Habitat volunteers have Habitat in their blood,” said executive director of Brunswick Habitat For Humanity Carlo Montagano. “Jim is one of those volunteers.”

Montagano says he and Rewalt have a special relationship because Rewalt is the person that hired him. He describes Rewalt as having a deeper connection to Habitat’s mission-- being part of the community they aim to serve.

“Gail will stop and spend time with dogs or cats how they need it,” said shelter manager Christina Tolley. “She adapts and changes to each animal and their specific need.”

That’s not all Faust is known for doing at the animal shelter. When she’s not out walking dogs, she’ll spend time with those that need extra attention. If she notices a person looking for a furry friend to call their own, she sparks up a conversation to help them find the perfect dog or car to become their new best friend.

Like the selfless volunteers they are, even in the spotlight, Faust and Rewalt focused on helping others.

“I instantly thought that the kind of publicity this would bring to the chapter would help us raise money and build more houses,” said Rewalt.

Recipients of the Governor's Volunteer Service Award receive a certificate signed by the...
Recipients of the Governor's Volunteer Service Award receive a certificate signed by the governor and a pin.(WECT)

Faust and Gail are only two of four volunteers in the county to receive the Governor’s Service Award. Two others put their unique skill set to use, going from careermen to men serving others.

“I’ve been doing this for about 30 years,” said Tim Heath, a volunteer firefighter at Sunset Harbor Zion Hill Fire Department. “I started off in Johnston County and I’ve always liked to do community stuff and help the community.”

Jim McGibeny retired from working in IT for the State of Georgia. He moved to Brunswick County to be with family but knew he wasn’t done with helping others.

“As a retiree, I wanted to give back to and volunteer with either the local law enforcement or the military,” said McGibeny.

Heath and McGibeny now work with first responders to make sure everything is running smoothly, no matter what that calls for.

“Two projects. One was to implement an information management system that tracks and also schedules up to 300 volunteers for the sheriff’s office,” said McGibeny. “The second project was to implement an electronic scanning system for the detention center.”

“Normal stuff in the firehouse,” said Heath. “Clean the trucks, checking the trucks off, just being sure everything is ready to go when we need it to go.”

That service didn’t go unnoticed. That’s why Heath and McGibeny received the Governor’s Service Award, something first responders say they richly deserve.

Heath received an award at the department level earlier this year after a landslide vote. Fire Chief Rob Johnson says not only is he offering his free time, but he’s also offering years of experience and sometimes, money out of his own pocket.

“I felt like he needed that extra recognition,” said Johnson. “I spoke with the other members and again, everybody was in agreeance that he get nominated.”

Meanwhile, McGibney transformed the volunteer program at the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office. His projects moved the program from relying on mountains of paper documentation to a virtual system to keep track of the hundreds of volunteers the sheriff’s office handles.

“[Jim is] eager to jump in and get things done when needed. A calming voice, so to speak, “said Sheriff John Ingram. “I just so appreciate him and I appreciate everything all of them do. I wish we could give every one of them an award.”

Even with an award in hand, both plan to keep living the best way they know how: by helping others.

“It’s something everybody should consider if they have time to do it and to do it right,” said McGibeny. “I would highly recommend it. It’s fulfilling.

One of the four will receive a recommendation to be a candidate for the Governor’s Medallion Award. Only the top 20 volunteers in the State will receive that honor. The county’s nominee has not been announced.

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