For those who have pondered the secret to convincing community activist Noel Montepeque to stand still for a few moments, presenting him with the Joe Q. Dougherty Volunteer of the Year Award is a start.
The energetic board member of the Boys and Girls Club of Morristown — known for his entertaining support of the club during its annual live auction by feverishly working the room for bids — was honored during the United Way of Hamblen County’s annual meeting on Jan. 10.
The award is presented through nominations by the 22 local agencies of the United Way.
The recognition was an opportunity for Montepeque, in typical fashion, to chide club director John Seals about tricking him into attending the meeting, along with his wife, Celia.
“I had no clue; I didn’t expect it; I didn’t know what was going on,” he said.
He was serious, however, about what drew him to begin volunteering at the club 12 years ago.
“The kids,” he said. “We don’t have a future if we don’t protect the future of our kids. We need to keep them in a safe place and work hard to get them off the streets. There is no other way. I grew up without a dad and so now I know what they go through without one of their parents. It is obvious that it is in my best interest and it always will be.”
Like many other community volunteers, Montepeque said he gets more back than what he gives.
“It is the most reward that you can get when the kids see you and they come and they hug you and bump shoulders with you,” he said.
The camaraderie between Montepeque and club members can lead to shenanigans of a sort; a running joke with Seals is the board member gets himself into trouble with the boss at times.
Montepeque blames it on becoming a kid himself when he spends time at the club.
“It’s a great pleasure to see those kids around you having fun. They can be kids, but they also turn it around and respect you,” he said.
Edwin Goan, United Way public relations director, presented the award.
“This year’s award goes to a volunteer who has contributed so much to our community and the Lakeway Area,” Goan said. “His love for Morristown and Hamblen County is displayed through his 12-year commitment to local non-profit organizations. He has gone above and beyond to not only serve at the board level, but has volunteered countless hours to work directly with agency members and their families.”
In addition to serving in a leadership role during the club’s annual Super Auction, Montepeque spent more than 50 volunteer hours taking club members on special trips. He has assisted with the club-hosted community Halloween party for the past 12 years. He has served as one of the club escorts during member camping trips and has taken club youth on water skiing outings for the past five years.
Through its board of directors and community generosity, the club has been able to take a number of its youth to area sporting events, including those held on the University of Tennessee campus — Montepeque has played an integral part in those efforts as well.
Montepeque assists with the club’s Young Men of Distinction program that provides mentors in professional leadership to members, including providing youth in the program with proper business attire and accompanying them to related functions.
He also assists with the funding and preparation of the club’s annual Christmas luncheon that provides a meal and fellowship for members and their families.
Montepeque has purchased school supplies, meals and clothing for a number of club members over the years. He has co-chaired the annual Christmas card fundraiser for the past six years.
Other community activities include serving on the board of directors of Morristown-Hamblen Central Services and volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
“Since moving to the community, Noel has been one of the most dedicated and committed volunteers we have had,” Seals said. “Probably the greatest impact he has had is with our Hispanic members and families. He has been a constant link that has helped us better serve this group of children.”
-By Glenna Howington, Tribune Staff Writer