97-year-old Jamestown volunteer wins national award
Honestly, 97-year-old Thurman Haynes doesn’t need awards to motivate him. The students at the Haynes-Inman Education Center, where he volunteers five days a week, give him all the motivation he needs.
Nonetheless, Haynes — who lives in Jamestown, just a couple hundred yards up the road from the school — has been named the national winner of the Salute To Senior Service contest, sponsored by Home Instead Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead Senior Care network. He was selected from thousands of nominees and 50 state-level winners.
Haynes’ selection was based on his dedicated community service to Haynes-Inman, a school for special-needs students, where he volunteers more than 80 hours per month.
The award will be presented this morning during a special ceremony at the school.
“Thurman Haynes reminds us all how important it is to celebrate life on a daily basis,” said Kevin Carr, the principal of Haynes-Inman. “You can’t buy what Thurman brings to Haynes-Inman. His dedication and the respect and love he gives others is amazing.”
Haynes has a special connection to the school. His late granddaughter, Meredith Leigh Haynes — one of the school’s namesakes — was a special-needs child herself, so when Guilford County Schools offered to buy some of his land to build a school for severely developmentally disabled students, he willingly obliged.
And when the school opened in 2010, Haynes — who had rarely done volunteer work in his nine-plus decades of living — began showing up every day to help. Helping students on and off the bus. Pushing them to their rooms in their wheelchairs. Setting up the gym for adaptive physical education classes. Playing with children on the adaptive playground. Just being there, spreading a little love.
“These are my adopted grandchildren,” Haynes told the Enterprise for a feature story last year. “I just love these kids.”
And what does Haynes get out of his relationship with the students at Haynes-Inman?
“A lot of pleasure,” he told the Enterprise last year. “The pay is good.”
In addition to the national award, Haynes won the Salute To Senior Service state award for North Carolina.
As the winner of both the state and national contests, Haynes earned a total of $5,500 for his charity of choice — Haynes-Inman Education Center — donated by Home Instead. He also has a spot on the Salute To Senior Service Wall of Fame, where his story is posted.
“We are honored to present the national Salute To Senior Service award to Thurman Haynes,” said Jeff Huber, president of Home Instead.
“Thurman’s longstanding service to the Haynes-Inman Education Center demonstrates so well the significant and meaningful impact senior volunteers have on their communities every day. He also proves age is irrelevant when it comes to making a positive difference in the lives of others.”